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  #1  
Old 02-13-2018, 03:01 PM
KarenNsmith KarenNsmith is offline
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Default AAA: Please Let the Sunshine in!!!

Are they hiding something? I doubt it, but in a closed-door meeting the American Academy of Actuaries Board of Directors voted to close all meetings of the Committee on Qualifications and closed all Actuarial Standards Board meetings unless the chair approves the observer’s attendance. This huge change was made without warning or input from members. For actuaries to regulate themselves, there needs be transparency in the qualification and standards setting process. That is the best way to keep bias and financial interest out.

We have launched a petition drive to force an Academy membership vote to amend the bylaws to undo this policy and to permanently protect openness for standard setting. We need your help.

You can do any of the following to help:
1. Visit our website at ASBCoQsunshine.com
2. Review the attached information which includes the proposed bylaw change and the new policy
3. You can connect with me (Karen Smith) on LinkedIn
4. Have questions? Post them and I will try to answer them. I will be as transparent as possible!
5. Share with your actuarial colleagues – we need 600 signatures!


Who am I? I am a pension actuary who is a member of the SOA, CCA, Academy and ACOPA. Before they changed the meeting policy, the Academy denied me entrance to both the ASB planning meeting and Committee on Qualifications meetings. I am not usually a crusader, but we need transparency if the profession is going to continue to be self-regulated. This effort is not endorsed by any actuarial organization and I am quite certain the Academy is against it!
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File Type: pdf Support Transparency form.pdf (148.9 KB, 75 views)
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  #2  
Old 02-13-2018, 04:43 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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Default

You may want to provide some background to this, because this is going to be news to most of the people on the AO.

Following your links, I believe you have the info here:

http://asbcoqsunshine.com/what-happened/

Quote:
At the Academy Board of Directors meeting on January 30, 2018 in Washington DC, the first order of business was brief introductions of the board members. Next, the board voted to approve the consent and discussion agendas. Then, only about 10 minutes into the meeting at roughly 1:10pm, Bob Beuerlein, the immediate past president of the Academy, moved that the board meeting into executive session so that any visitors had to leave. Then, at around 3:15pm, Mary Downs, the Academy’s executive director, came out and announced that the Board had adopted a new meeting policy and that the one Academy member waiting in the hallway to return to the previously open meeting was not welcome to return. The new meeting policy was not available at that time, but it would be available by close of the next business day (after the board meeting ended).

Yes, that is correct. The board voted to change the policy effectively immediately, behind closed doors with an Academy member sitting in the hallway waiting to observe the meeting. This follows the Academy deciding that all Committee on Qualifications (‘CoQ’) meetings would be closed and closing the annual Actuarial Standard Board (‘ASB’) planning meeting even though “all ASB meetings are open.”

Here is the new policy. Here is the old policy. The difference is quite stark.

The systematic closing of meeting seems to be part of a concerted effort to gain tighter conrol over these meetings and communications about these meetings. Perhaps this is in response to the changing relationships between the actuarial organizations. It is not clear whether the tighter meeting policy is overall good or bad policy, but it is clearly unacceptable that CoQ meetings have been closed and that being admitted to ASB meetings is now subject to the approval of the ASB chair. The CoQ and the ASB develop qualification standards and actuarial standards of practice for the ENTIRE actuarial profession. They perform a near regulatory function and as such their meetings need to be open in the same way that regulators’ meetings are open under state sunshine laws. If they are not open, why would an actuary prefer industry self-regulation to governmental regulation? Why would the public have confidence?

The Academy asserts closing meetings will allow for more robust and frank discussion. Why does having observers prevent frank and robust discussion? Given the important charge of the ASB and CoQ, the members must be prepared to discuss sensitive matters even when people listening may disagree. Instead of sunlight being effective to prevent possible distortions of the process, the Academy is arguing that darkness and insularity provide the best result.

There is every reason to believe the Academy board of directors had the best of intentions when they made this decision. The board might be receiving misguided advice

Let’s remind the board of the Academy’s roots. The 2018 Sunshine Amendment to the Academy bylaws will protect the openness of the standard and qualification setting processes for years to come. Click here to sign the petition.





Old policy:
http://asbcoqsunshine.com/wp-content...ngs-Policy.pdf

key part:
Quote:
C. Members attending Academy meetings (including conference calls) should inform the committee
chairperson of their presence (in person or on a conference call), and are free to observe the
conduct of those meetings. They may participate in discussions only with the consent of the
chairperson. Academy members and invited guests who have acknowledged the conflict of interest
policy may be added to the committee list serv, subject to the approval of the chair, and are referred
to as interested parties. Committee decisions on important issues should only be made by a vote or
the consensus of the committee members present; interested parties and other observers may not
vote.
New policy:
http://asbcoqsunshine.com/wp-content...ngs-Policy.pdf

Quote:
C. Observers permitted to attend Committee meetings may not participate in discussions without
the invitation of the chairperson. Observers who are permitted to attend Committee meeting under
this policy must acknowledge the Conflict of Interest policy before they are permitted to attend the
meeting.
D. No Committee member or Observer will be recognized as a liaison to any other U.S.-based
actuarial organization, any employer interest, or any other professional or trade group without the
authorization of the Academy’s Executive Committee.
E. The Academy will not vouch for the accuracy of any notes, reports, or observations on
Committee meetings made by Observers permitted to attend and will not indemnify any Observer
for any legal or other costs incurred should the Observer or any notes, reports, or other written
1/31/2018 Board and Committee Meetings Policy
http://www.actuary.org/print/3181 2/2
documents the Observer creates based on attendance at a Committee meeting be subpoenaed or
otherwise subjected to legal process.
F. Subject to the approval of the Committee chairperson and after consultation with the relevant
officer and Academy legal counsel, certain Observers may be added to the Committee listserv. Only
Committee members, however, may receive the Committee agenda, other meeting materials, and
drafts of Committee documents unless the chairperson decides otherwise.
G. Observers, including those added to the Committee listserv, may not vote on any matter before
the Committee.
H. Nothing in this policy precludes a Committee chairperson from excluding an Observer from all or
any portion of a Committee meeting if, in the Chairperson’s discretion, the Observer’s presence for
some portion of the meeting will not be helpful to the Academy in that particular Committee’s work.
Similarly, nothing in this policy precludes or prevents a Committee from closing a portion of a
meeting to Observers so that the Committee may meet in executive session.
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2018, 04:55 PM
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Carol Marler
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This is hateful. I'm glad I'm no longer a member of the actuarial organizations.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2018, 08:50 PM
KarenNsmith KarenNsmith is offline
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Default Thanks Mary Pat!

You did a great job with the background. If I had to say it really briefly for people new to the issue, I would say that the old Academy meeting policy was very open and the new Academy meeting policy is very restrictive. Overall, I don't like the policy, but I am only focusing on the Actuarial Standards Board and Committee on Qualifications. The Academy can have a private clubhouse and work behind closed doors OR they can set standards for the entire profession. But, I hope we don't let them do both at the same time. When the Academy does things like this, they count on our complacency. If we want them to open these meeting up, we have to let them know. Sign our petition, or if you don't like what we are doing, do something else!
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  #5  
Old 02-13-2018, 10:01 PM
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Crazy. How can the AAA shoot itself in the foot so often? How many feet does it have left?

Bruce
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  #6  
Old 02-13-2018, 10:15 PM
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Sorry, can someone ELI5 why this is the most terrible thing ever? I mean sure, the optics are awful here in going from semi-transparent to completely opaque, but what nefarious things are we thinking the CoQ and/or ASB will concoct behind closed doors?
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  #7  
Old 02-13-2018, 10:19 PM
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Also, any ideas, either speculative or informed, on why this change was made? Were observers raising a ruckus in meetings or otherwise disrupting the function of these committees?
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2018, 03:58 AM
KarenNsmith KarenNsmith is offline
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I have not heard of any actual disruptive behavior. I have heard that they did not like people sharing their notes about ASB or ASB committee meetings for two reasons. First, some of the goings on are potentially embarrassing such as the ASB pension committee does not agree with what the ASB has instructed them to write. Second, apparently some volunteers do not want a record that could get back to their clients or into the public domain because what they say at these meetings may not be consistent with what their client's want or what they have advised clients. Neither of these seem like good reasons to close the meetings.
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2018, 04:49 AM
KarenNsmith KarenNsmith is offline
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Three quick thoughts on why closed meetings are bad:

1. The ASB before was not semi-transparent. It was completely transparent. You could literally attend meetings and calls and watch/hear the deliberations. Just the fact that people could (and some did) watch the meetings gave the whole process legitimacy. We can’t wait to demand openness until the ASB issues standards we disagree with.
2. If the ASB did not exist, some of their current functions would fall to state regulators and NAIC. State regulators are subject to open meeting laws and the NAIC has a very robust open meeting policy. Why should they have confidence in us regulating ourselves if we do it behind closed doors and hold ourselves to a lower standard?
3. What is the difference between a group of competitors colluding in an anti-competitive fashion violating anti-trust laws and a group of competitors setting actuarial standards for the public good in a pro-competitive manner? One difference is transparency. If the discussion is behind closed doors, how does anyone know which it was?

I am open to other POV. ELI5 why closed meetings are good.
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  #10  
Old 02-14-2018, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcie View Post
Sorry, can someone ELI5 why this is the most terrible thing ever? I mean sure, the optics are awful here in going from semi-transparent to completely opaque, but what nefarious things are we thinking the CoQ and/or ASB will concoct behind closed doors?
It’s not “the most terrible thing ever”; it’s just another terrible thing from the AAA. And I won’t pretend to know what nefarious things could happen behind closed doors. I will merely observe that nefarious things are much more easily accomplished behind closed doors. Finally, if our profession really wants to stay (mostly) self-regulating, then this sort of change is not going to help. It’s moving in the wrong direction.

Bruce
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