University of North Georgia (UNG) is in compliance with this comprehensive standard. Constitutional, legal and policy-based regulations keep the Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia (USG) free from undue influence. The institutional consolidation that formed UNG had no impact on and made no changes to these existing regulations.
The Constitution of the State of Georgia (Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 1), Georgia laws (O.C.G.A. 20-3-21, O.C.G.A. 20-3-31, and O.C.G.A. 20-3-53), and the Board of Regents Bylaws (Section I, Paragraph 2) give the governing board independence and exclusive authority over the government, control, and management of the University System of Georgia, thus preventing undue influence from political, religious, and other external bodies.
The BOR Policy Manual Section 12.1 states:
The Board of Regents is unalterably opposed to political interference or domination of any kind or character in the affairs of any USG institution (BOR Minutes, 1941-42, p. 88).
The Board’s constitutional authority and independence in matters of USG state appropriations and financial management are reinforced in Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 1 of the Georgia Constitution with these words:
(c) All appropriations made for the use of any or all institutions in the university system shall be paid to the board of regents in a lump sum, with the power and authority in said board to allocate and distribute the same among the institutions under its control in such way and manner and in such amounts as will further an efficient and economical administration of the university system.
The constitutionally protected independence of the BOR of the USG, which is reinforced by state laws, is one of the governing board’s strongest protections against undue political interference and influence from government officials and other state agencies.
In addition, the Bylaws of the BOR provide several other mechanisms to prevent undue influence. The Board of Regents consists of one member from each congressional district in the state and five additional members from the state at large appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board’s composition ensures that interests of the entire state are represented in the affairs of the University System. The seven-year terms of Board members are staggered, thus guaranteeing representation that crosses different gubernatorial administrations. Members serve until their successors are appointed and qualified (BOR Bylaws, Section I-3). The annual rotation of the chairmanship of the Board of Regents also minimizes the potential for control by a minority of the members (BOR Bylaws, Section IV-2). The BOR Bylaws, Section V-2 clearly states that no individual Board member has the authority to commit the Board to a particular action. BOR Bylaws Section III-4 states that a majority of the members of the Board is needed to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. All of these features of the Board’s make-up and operation serve to protect the Board of Regents, the University System and member institutions from undue influence of special interest groups.
Other policies and procedures of the BOR have been established to prevent conflicts of interest that may result in undue external influence. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), Section 45-10-24, prohibits part-time public officials with state-wide powers from transacting business with any state agency, including their own. The Code of Ethics for government service contained in the OCGA, Section 45-10-1, also prohibits such conflicts of interest. Additionally, Section 21-5-50 of Georgia’s Ethics in Government Act requires all public officials to annually file a financial disclosure statement with the state for payments of more than $10,000 made by any state agency or department to the individual or to businesses they own.