The board of directors of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics met for the first time in seven months on Tuesday, after the San Juan Superior Court issued a cease and desist order preventing Gov. Ricardo Rosselló from interfering with the agency.
The court resolved the controversy regarding the board’s composition after a series of dismissals and appointments the governor made last July, which were the judicial branch invalidated. Rosselló has said he will appeal that decision.
Meanwhile, the board addressed a number of pending issues, including:
- Approving minutes of previous meetings; approving an extraordinary meeting to address technical issues related to the deaths statistics related to Hurricanes Irma and María;
- Approving Resolution No. 2018-01 to interpret the scope of administrative and fiscal autonomy granted to the Institute of Statistics in its Organic Law, in light of Act. 8-2017, also known as the Single Employer Act;
- Adopted Resolution No. 2018-02 to interpret the scope of the Institute’s administrative and fiscal autonomy in light of Act. 2-2017, also known as the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Act;
- Approving as an institutional position favoring the approval of House Bill 1476, which proposes to amend the Institute of Statistics Act to provide that no public official may be part of the Board, and to establish restrictions on former officials who wish to be members of the Board. Additional technical recommendations to the bill were also approved;
- Approving several extensions that agencies had requested for violating Information Requirement Orders related to the Interagency Validation Portal Act for granting economic development incentives;
- Approving the Institute’s Implementation Plan and operational budget for Fiscal 2018; and,
- Board members agreed to request a meeting with Rosselló to discuss pending issues related to the future of the Institute and the best ways in which the entity may cooperate with the government’s plan in line with the best public interest.
“We were able to restart the quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative and functions exercised by the Board of Directors seeking to promote changes to the government’s data collection and statistics systems so that they are complete, reliable, fast and universal accessible,” said the Institute’s Executive Director Mario Marazzi.
“For example, we were able to close a complaint filed last year that helped the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Planning maintain its accreditation with the American Planning Association for breaching an order requesting information from the Institute for statistics related to the Professional Planners Examining Board,” he said.
For his part, Board Chairman Antonio J. Fernós-Sagebien, said: “We have many major initiatives that are essential so that Puerto Rico may recover and have reliable and accessible statistics.”
“To restore Puerto Rico, we need to join forces; it cannot be done otherwise. Therefore, we have requested a meeting with the governor to align our agendas putting the benefit of the public interest first,” he said.
Marazzi, Fernós-Sagebien, and board members Ana L. Dávila, Sonia Balet, Marta Álvarez, Alex Lopez-Echegaray and Arnaldo Cruz attended the meeting.