Inspector general: Most of PR’s examining boards operate in violation of the law
By The Star Staff
The Office of the Inspector General of Puerto Rico (OIG by its Spanish initials) has found that most of the 23 examining and licensing boards in the island’s Department of State have not been complying with applicable laws.
The licensing boards provide licenses and monitor a host of professions ranging from plumbing to nursing.
An OIG study found that only 19 of the 23 boards were active and four were inoperative, leading to a lack of oversight and regulation of certain professions over the past three years. Many boards have not updated their rules for an extended period, some for over 60 years.
The study revealed that 43% of the examining boards evaluated were inoperative or had vacant positions because the government has yet to appoint its members. Regarding communication and compliance with duties, only 5% provided annual reports consecutively in the past three years. Likewise, the boards need updated information on certifications, exams and licenses, as they depend on private entities to obtain this data.
Of the 23 examination boards evaluated, 52% could provide updated information directly. In contrast, 48% had to obtain data from private entities contracted by the Department of State to manage the examination and certification processes.
OIG auditors also identified that 37% of the boards could not provide copies of minutes validating compliance with the minimum number of meetings required annually, and 83% claimed to have had regular meetings.
The analysis included all examination boards, considering the historical availability of information from the Department of State, including for inoperative boards. The evaluation covers the period from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2022.
The OIG issued recommendations to the Department of State to address the deficiencies in the boards, including managing their vacancies, reviewing their regulations, properly fulfilling their duties, correctly documenting their activities, and ensuring the holding of meetings.
Additionally, the OIG noted that it is essential to maintain up-to-date records on exams, licenses and certifications. The OIG urged submitting annual activity reports and implementing proactive measures to ensure regulatory compliance.
The OIG noted that it is essential to address the identified deficiencies to ensure that the regulation of professions is carried out effectively, to protect the population’s interests, and to provide opportunities for professionals to practice their vocations in Puerto Rico, and emphasized the importance of maintaining active and functional boards of examiners to achieve those fundamental objectives.