Select Committee to Study the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships
March 7, 2002
Rep. Kerry R. Metzger, Chairman
Rep. Nancy Hollister, Vice-Chairman
It is recognized and accepted that the State of Ohio has a statutory obligation to its citizens to facilitate, promote, and cultivate an appreciation and understanding of its past. Respectfully, however, Ohio's history deserves more than the simple fulfillment of a statutory obligation. The State of Ohio must instead regard the facilitation, promotion, and cultivation of its past as a matter of definite significance and focused interest as it already invests a great deal of resources in the operation of the State's historical sites, the implementation of technological and educational initiatives, the maintenance of State Archives, and the preservation of historical artifacts for current and future generations.
The State of Ohio has established a relationship with the Ohio Historical Society (OHS), which has evolved from its beginnings as a merely privately organized group to one with numerous responsibilities that are codified in Ohio law.
The State of Ohio and the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) today possess what is often times referred to as "a unique public/private partnership." It is more accurate, however, to explain the partnership in terms of a contractual agreement between the State and the Society. The origins of this unique partnership, as well as legal interpretations of it, are discussed in greater detail in the background section of this report.
The formation of this Select Committee resulted, in part, from the FY 2002-2003 biennial budget deliberations. Legislators faced formidable obstacles when the 124th General Assembly convened. Lawmakers were faced with a slowing economy, a primary and secondary school funding deadline, a Medicaid crisis, and midway through the budgetary process, an $800 million revenue shortfall. As a result, OHS was confronted with serious budget reductions that could potentially have a very negative impact on the long-term viability of Ohio's historic sites. Indeed, the possibility of site closures was of great concern to legislators.
In addition to addressing concerns about ensuring the viability and stability of historic sites, legislators sought to obtain a greater understanding of how precisely state funds, which account for approximately 75% of OHS' operating budget, were utilized by the Society in its operations and fulfillment of its contractual obligations as put forth in section 149.30 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Finally, the creation of this Select Committee was to further enhance the fulfillment of the State's and OHS' historical responsibilities and to find ways to strengthen this public/private partnership.
Legislators decided that the best method through which to achieve these purposes was the creation of a Select Committee that would thoroughly examine the public/private partnership between the State of Ohio and the Society, including the roles and responsibilities of each partner, as well as recommend revisions with the hopes of solidifying a more realistic and cooperative approach towards ensuring the study, understanding, and preservation of Ohio's past. The result of this examination would be the submission of recommendations compiled and agreed upon by the committee. In making these recommendations, the Select Committee does not intend to place unwarranted restrictions on the Society's operational flexibility or to interfere with its decisions by micromanaging its procedures.
Throughout this examination, the Select Committee devoted several hearings to reviewing the Ohio Historical Society Review Committee (OHSRC). The OHSRC was created in the FY 2000-2001 biennial operating budget bill (Amended Substitute House Bill 283). This committee was charged with the formulation of financial alternatives concerning future funding needs, a review of the appropriateness of the statutory duties of the Society, and a review of the financial governance relationship between the State and OHS. Vision 2000 is an extension of a strategic planning initiative begun in 1998 by the boards of trustees of both the Ohio Historical Society and its fundraising ally, the Ohio Historical Foundation.
In fact, many OHSRC recommendations and Vision 2000 elements are discussed in the ensuing pages of this report. The Select Committee recognizes the studies, evaluations, plans, and implementation measures arising from the efforts of State officials and OHS personnel and trustees in the past five years, especially as apparent in the final report of the OHS Review Committee (December 2000) and VISION 2000, the strategic planning document (Stage One) endorsed by the OHS Board of Trustees in September 2000. The work of the Select Committee compliments these other major deliberations, each of which was undertaken to strengthen the relationship between the State of Ohio and the Ohio Historical Society through improved communications and more stable funding so as to enhance the ability of OHS to present high quality educational services, programs, and facilities for the benefit of Ohioans and others.
Still, the purpose of the Select Committee was not limited exclusively to reviewing these documents. While many recommendations are reviewed in this report, there are some that go unmentioned. Accordingly, the committee cautions against translating the absence of discussion of a particular recommendation as a rejection or criticism of it.
The Select Committee met fourteen times between November 2001 and March 2002 and heard testimony from over 50 witnesses.
Each of the fifteen meetings addressed specific topics. The Ohio Historical Society would begin each hearing with a presentation on the assigned topics of the day, followed by other organizations, and finally by Public testimony, which was permitted at all of the hearings.
The Select Committee began its work by conducting a general overview of the public/private partnership between the State of Ohio and OHS. The Committee then moved into an examination of the statewide network of state memorials and the support needed to sustain them. The next area of focus was a fiscal review that included an examination of OHS' operating budget, the capital appropriations process, as well as fundraising and promotion at the Society. Committee members then examined preservation functions as well as reviewed the recommendations of the OHSRC. The Select Committee next explored education issues before concluding with an examination of the OHS Vision 2000 Strategic Plan.
The Committee hopes that the recommendations presented in this report will be implemented through legislation, rules, contractual agreement, or other means. At the very least, the Committee's work will represent a solid reaffirmation of the State's commitment to preserving history for present and future generations.
The next section of the report provides detailed information on the Society's partnership with the State. The subsequent section contains the recommendations, which are sorted by topic into categories. The recommendations are followed by a brief concluding section.
The Relationship of the Ohio Historical Society to the State of Ohio
Essential to the development of this report is the understanding of the relationship currently shared between the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) and the State of Ohio, as this relationship is more distinctive than any other relationship the state has with an independent entity. The Select Committee has heard testimony regarding this relationship from the Legislative Service Commission as well as the OHS. The purpose of this segment is to highlight a summarized history of the OHS and discuss the legal relationship shared between these two entities as instituted in a section of the Ohio Revised Code and viewed through a court interpretation of that section.
The OHS is a private, not-for-profit corporation currently functioning as the primary historical preservation organization in the state and, in doing so, serves as the state's agent in historical matters. In this capacity, the OHS acts in and on behalf of the State of Ohio on several levels including the management of state archives, the management of the state's historic preservation office, and the operation of historic sites and museums. The State of Ohio provides a considerable percentage of the operating budget of the OHS in return for these services. A less informed view of the duties the Society conducts on behalf of the state may lead many observers to believe that the Society is a state agency and operates in the same manner as does the Ohio Department of Development or the Ohio Department of Health. The Society, however, conducts its activities as a participant in a complex partnership with the State of Ohio. It, in fact, does not operate as a public agency; it is fundamentally tied to the state and is instead considered the state's contractual agent as it performs public duties involving historic preservation on behalf of the state.
The History Behind the Ohio Historical Society
The Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society was established on March 13, 1885 with the intention of "promoting a knowledge of archeology and history, especially of Ohio..." The Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society originally conducted business without any specific state aid, although linked to the state government since its inception. Organizational meetings were held in the office of the Secretary of State and the Society was formerly organized in Ohio's State Library.
As mentioned before, the Society initially operated as an entirely private organization and received no state funding regardless of these connections to the state. A more involved relationship with the state began in 1888, with the appropriation of state moneys for the purpose of funding certain activities of the Society, and additionally in 1891, with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution No. 43, which authorized the Governor to appoint six members of the board of trustees of the Ohio Archeological and Historical Society. Senate Joint Resolution No. 43, adopted on April 15, 1891, set up the appointment process for positions on the board of trustees and noted that said appointments shall not require the state to make annual budgetary appropriations for the Society. That same year, the state also authorized the Society to care for, take custody of, and control Ohio's first state memorial, Fort Ancient in Warren County.
During the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century to the present, the state, acting primarily through appropriations made by the General Assembly, has been involved in both the general financing of the Society and the financing of specific projects of the Society through line items in the state's operating budget. In 1965, the 106th General Assembly enacted Am. HB 570, which codified this relationship through legislative enactment. That measure, through the codification of Section 149.30 of the Ohio Revised Code, formulated a framework under which the state and the Ohio Historical Society carry out business together. That framework primarily involves a public contract between the State of Ohio and the Society.
A Contract Written in Statute
A contract is statutorily formed when there is an offer, an acceptance, and consideration for the contract (such consideration usually consists of the exchange of money for services rendered). Upon its enactment, section 149.30 of the Ohio Revised Code established a contract written in law between the State of Ohio and the OHS. That section provides that the OHS, employed by the state (as a not-for-profit corporation) to promote knowledge of history and archeology, especially of Ohio, and operated in the public interest since 1885, may perform public functions as prescribed by law. The above-mentioned section also provides that the General Assembly may appropriate money to the Ohio Historical Society each biennium to carry out the public functions of the Society. The statute further provides that an appropriation by the General Assembly to the Society constitutes an offer to contract with the Society to carry out those public functions. An acceptance by the Society of the appropriated funds constitutes acceptance by the Society of the offer and is considered an agreement by the Society to perform those functions, under law.
Furthermore, this Revised Code section specifies that the Governor may request on behalf of the Society, and the Controlling Board may release additional funds to the society for survey, salvage, repair, or rehabilitation of an emergency nature for which funds have not been previously appropriated, and acceptance by the Society of those funds constitutes an agreement on the part of the Society of expend those funds only for the purpose for which released by the Controlling Board. This section goes on to state that "the society shall faithfully expend and apply all moneys received from the state to the uses and purposes directed by law and for necessary administrative expenses," and that "the Society shall accurately record all expenditures of such funds in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles." The section also allows that the auditor of state, "shall audit all funds and fiscal records of the Society."
Section 149.30 enumerates certain public functions to be carried out by the Ohio Historical Society as contracted by the State of Ohio. Those public functions include, in part:
- Creating, supervising, operating, protecting, maintaining, and promoting for public use a system of state memorials;
- Making alterations and improvements, marking, and constructing, reconstructing, protecting, or restoring structures, earthworks, and monuments in its care, and equipping the facilities with appropriate educational maintenance facilities;
- Serving as the archives administration for the state and its political subdivisions;
- Administering a state historical museum, to be the headquarters of the Society and its principal museum and library, which shall be maintained and kept for public use at reasonable hours;
- Establishing a marking system to identify all designated historic and archaeological sites within the state;
- Publishing books, pamphlets, periodicals, and other publications about history, archaeology, and natural science;
- Engaging in research in history, archeology, and natural science and providing historical information upon request to all state agencies;
- Collecting, preserving, and making available all manuscript, print, or near-print library collections and all historical objects, specimens, and artifacts that pertain to the history of Ohio and its people;
- Encouraging and promoting the organization and development of county and local historical societies;
- Providing Ohio schools with materials at cost or near cost that the Society may prepare to facilitate the instruction of Ohio history;
- Providing advisory and technical assistance to local societies for the preservation and restoration of historic and archaeological sites;
- Devising uniform criteria for the designation of historic and archaeological sites throughout the state and advising local historical societies of the criteria and their application;
- Taking inventory in cooperation with the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Archaeological Council, and the Archaeological Society of Ohio of significant designated and undesignated state and local sites and keeping an active registry of all designated sites with in the state;
- Contracting with the owners of historical sites for the purpose of restoring or preserving the historical or archaeological significance or educational value of those sites;
- Commissioning a portrait of each departing governor; and
- Planning and developing a center at the State House for the purpose educating visitors about the history of Ohio.
These enumerated public functions are all performed on behalf of the State of Ohio with funds appropriated by the General Assembly. The performance of these public functions constitutes the contractual consideration offered by the Society to the State in return for state moneys. It is this relationship that binds the Society and the State of Ohio together. However, this relationship does not raise the Society to the level of a state agency in the eyes of the law. The courts have interpreted this relationship to be that of a private corporation acting as a contractual agent on behalf of the state.
Contractual Relationship Interpreted
As discussed above, section 149.30 of the Revised Code establishes the framework under which the state and the Ohio Historical Society work cooperatively. That framework takes the form of a contractual relationship. The close relationship between the Society and the state sometimes results in an impression that the Society is a state agency. There is evidence that supports this impression. For example, the Auditor of State audits the financial records of the Society.
The Supreme Court of Ohio examined the relationship between the State of Ohio and the Society in the case of Ohio Historical Society v. State Employment Relations Board. In that case, the Supreme Court examined the issue of whether the Society is in fact a "public employer," in essence a state agency, under the definition of that term in the state employees collective bargaining statute. The case resulted from a petition filed by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (AFSCME) with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) for a representation election. AFSCME sought to represent certain employees of the Society for the purpose of collective bargaining and claimed that it could do so because the Society was a "public employer" under the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Law. The Society moved to dismiss AFSCME's petition on the grounds that it indeed was not a public employer and that SERB, therefore, did not have jurisdiction over it. A SERB hearing officer determined that the Society was a "public employer." After a series of appeals, the case was presented to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Court determined that the Society is not a "public employer" for purposes of the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Law. Further, the Court found that even outside of that law, the Society cannot be viewed as anything other than a purely private entity.
The Court found that, although the Society possesses certain attributes of a governmental entity, the Society is not public. The Court found that the Society was neither created by the state nor is subject to state control. In reaching this conclusion, the Court held that the Society is a private, not-for-profit corporation formed by a group of individuals in their capacities as private citizens. It further determined that while the Society has a close relationship with the state, that does not make it an arm of the state. As evidence of the private nature of the Society, the Court found all of the following:
- The Society was neither created by the state nor is subject to state control;
- In both form and substance the Society is a private corporation;
- The Society's corporate constitution provides that half of the trustees are elected from the Society's membership and the governor of Ohio appoints the remaining half;
- This corporate constitution, not a state statute, governs the proceedings of the Society;
- The board elects corporate officers to operate the Society, and these officers report directly to the board of trustees;
- Neither the Society's leaders nor its members are subject to the political process;
- The members of the Society's board, whether appointed by the governor or elected by the membership, are responsible to the membership of the Society alone;
- The citizens of the State of Ohio do not directly or indirectly exercise control over the Society; and
- The Society contracts with the state to perform certain public functions under section 149.30 of the Revised Code.
The Court noted that the Society is authorized by its constitution to enter into contracts with the state. The state in turn is authorized by the statute to contract with the Society. Nowhere, however, is the Society required by the statute to perform state functions.
Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board
There are additional provisions of the Revised Code that further define the relationship between the state and the Ohio Historical Society. Section 149.01 of the Revised Code creates the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, which consists of 17 members appointed by the governor, including the state officials and citizens with expertise in certain areas related to historic preservation. The Board is required by statute to assist the Ohio Historical Society in its site preservation program, including the location, designation, restoration, preservation, and maintenance of state historic and archaeological sites and artifacts. Further, the Board must encourage the designation of suitable sites on the National Register of Historic Places and under other federal programs.
National Museum of Afro-American History and Culture
Section 149.02 requires the Ohio Historical Society to establish a museum in the vicinity of Wilberforce known as the National Museum of Afro-American History and Culture. The title to the Museum is required by law to be conveyed from the Society to another private, nonprofit corporation for the purposes of operating and maintaining the museum.
Under section 149.304 of the Revised Code, any person owning or in possession of an Ohio homestead or tract of land that has been owned or in the possession of the person's family for 100 years or more may submit application to the Ohio Historical Society to list the homestead or tract of land in a register to be maintained by the Society. The Society must submit applications to the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, which must rule on the authenticity of the homestead or ownership or possession of the tract of land according to criteria that it must establish and make public. Upon authentication of the homestead or tract of land by the Board, the Society must list the homestead or tract of land on its register and provide the applicant with a plaque of suitable design determined by the Society to be affixed to the homestead or tract of land. The plaque must identify the homestead or tract of land as an historic homestead and indicate that it is 100 years old or more as of the date of recognition.
Section 149.31 of the Revised Code establishes the role of the Society in preserving state archives. Under that section, the Society must evaluate, preserve, arrange, service, repair, or make other disposition, such as transfer to public libraries, county historical societies, state universities, or other public or quasi-public institutions or corporations, of those public records of the state and its political subdivisions that come into its possession.
The Committee is pleased that one of the Society's FY 2002-2003 priorities involves dealing with critical, long-term issues facing the site system. As evidenced in both the OHS Review Committee and the Vision 2000 strategic plan, the Society is taking an active lead in the development of accessioning/deaccessioning criteria and procedures to be employed when determining whether to add or remove an existing state memorial from the "site system."
Although legislative approval is required prior to removing sites from the system, the Committee believes the State should be a more active partner in developing the accessioning/deaccessioning procedures used by the Society.
A draft accessioning/deaccessioning policy has been created as part of the first phase of the Society's Vision 2000 Strategic Plan. The Select Committee recommends the following:
- Prior to entering the second phase of its Vision 2000 Strategic Plan, the Society must allow the State the opportunity to participate in the development of the final accessioning/deaccessioning policy. The State Historic Preservation Advisory Board will represent the State in this endeavor and it must seek advice from and consult with the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission on deaccessioning policy. The Committee believes this is a wise course of action considering that the Preservation Advisory Board has members who are historical experts and who are gubernatorially appointed.
- The Select Committee also recommends that the final accessioning/deaccessioning policy must receive approval from JCARR.
- The Select Committee recommends amending ORC 149.30 (R) to require General Assembly approval in the adding of any sites to the system.
- The Select Committee also recommends that the state explore offering incentives for local communities (i.e. municipalities, counties, local historical societies, regional authorities, etc.) to assume control of certain sites. Examples of such incentives would include, but not be limited to, a tax credit, the state contributing capital dollars, or the creation by the State of an endowment-matching program, which could assist with long-term operational sustainability. Offering communities the opportunity to assume control of a particular site's operations will promote greater local involvement, which might result in a new found stability, both financially and non-financially, that did not exist when the site was part of the "system."
- It was evident during testimony that getting citizens to visit historic sites on a regular basis represents a serious challenge to the Society and the ultimate viability of the historic site. The competition for families' entertainment dollars will only become greater in the future.
It is apparent that the offerings provided by the historic sites to its visitors must change with the times. It will require developing new exhibits that are educational, high tech, and interactive with the visitors. They will have to be changed more frequently than is currently done.
Doing so, however, is both time-consuming and costly. Nevertheless, the Select Committee recommends the allocation of additional resources, both human and financial, by the Ohio Historical Society and the State towards the marketing and promotion of state memorials, consistent with a coordinated strategy.
The Select Committee also suggests that the Society make greater use of the historic artifacts within its possession. A frequent turnover of artifacts provides the public with a strong reason to visit an historic site more frequently.
- The Select Committee recognizes and endorses the central focus on the delivery of enhanced educational services, which the Select Committee notes is, and will almost certainly continue to be, a key policy priority of the State of Ohio.
Because of this recognition that enhanced educational services is a central focus of the Society's strategic priorities and plans and that they are a key policy priority of the State, the Select Committee believes that the ex-officio status of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Chancellor of the Board of Regents should be replaced with full membership privileges on the Ohio Historical Society's Board.
The Select Committee further recommends that the Society needs to review, develop, and incorporate mechanisms designed to deliver and utilize these enhanced educational services in ways that will promote and increase utilization of all of Ohio's historic sites.
- The Select Committee, after considering relevant testimony, encourages the explicit inclusion of Ohio History in the curricular standards and models for K-12 under preparation by the Department of Education.
Ohio history should be a specific requirement to be taught to Ohio's students and should be required to be incorporated into the curriculum beyond the fourth grade.
- The Select Committee recommends that the educational partnership comprised of the Ohio Historical Society, Department of Education, and the Ohio SchoolNet Commission collaborate on developing and implementing mechanisms to inform and promote OHS educational programming which would be beneficial to Ohio's teachers and students.
- The Select Committee recommends that the Board of Regents review and report on the availability of coursework taught on Ohio History at Ohio's institutions of higher learning and then implement recommendations to ensure that Ohio's institutions of higher education provide adequate and appropriate courses in Ohio's history so that Ohio's teachers may pursue training and professional development which will enable them to present effectively Ohio history in the classroom.
- The Select Committee notes the recent advances and opportunities arising from modern telecommunication linkages in Ohio's schools and encourages the Ohio Historical Society to accelerate its production of programs, materials, and services that can be delivered with this modern technology to Ohio's teachers and students.
Further, the Select Committee recognizes that present financial restraints preclude the expansion beyond current levels budgeted by OHS.
The Select Committee affirms the recommendations of the Ohio Historical Review Committee (December 2000) that the Board of Regents should explore whether OHS could be designated as eligible for Ohio Board of Regents grants for professional development.
Therefore, the Select Committee recommends that ORC section 149.30(J), which limits OHS to offering educational material to schools "at cost or near cost," be altered to allow OHS to charge at rates closer to "market rates" with the expectation that such charges could yield "seed funding" for the design and production of subsequent programs, materials, and services.
The Select Committee further recommends an increased collaboration with the Department of Education and the Ohio SchoolNet Commission to review additional funding sources that may be utilized for the above purposes.
- The Select Committee recognizes that because the State Historic Preservation Office performs certain governmental functions that it should be located within a governmental agency.
Therefore, the Select Committee recommends that the State Historic Preservation Office be transferred to the Ohio Department of Development.
- The Select Committee recommends that the state develop and implement a State Archaeological Preservation Plan that would be developed by the State Historic Preservation Office in cooperation with federal, state, and local agencies, the Ohio Archaeological Council, the Archaeological Society of Ohio, the Native American community, and other interested stakeholders.
- The Select Committee recommends that an abandoned cemetery and unmarked human burial ground preservation program be developed and implemented for the State of Ohio.
The State Historic Preservation Office will be responsible for developing this program. The State Historic Preservation Officer will assemble a group of interested stakeholders to assist in the development of this program. The group of stakeholders will include, but not be limited to: statewide organizations representing the archaeological, genealogical, historical, and Native American communities; representatives of local and state government; law enforcement officials; and the Advisory Board.
The State Historic Preservation Officer will submit a written report to the Chairman of the Select Committee to Study the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships by September 30, 2002 that outlines the progress made towards the development of this program.
It was brought out in testimony that Ohio was one of the few states, which does not have a specifically designed program to protect such places. Lack of such a program can result in stalled economic development projects while disputes proceed through lengthy legal hearings. Social issues are impacted and brought to the forefront by the lack of a process to deal with abandoned cemeteries and unmarked human burial grounds.
- The Select Committee recommends that the Historic Preservation Office pursue the development of a community historic tax credit. The tax credit could be applied to single-family homes, multi-family housing, and small business owners. The Historic Preservation Office, Community Development Division, interested local parties, and legislators should develop the Historic Housing tax credit as a community improvement and historic preservation effort.
- The Select Committee recommends that the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission (OASFC) and OHS establish a regular meeting or working schedule (monthly or more often) with one another so they can improve their working partnership. This will foster the relationship and make it easier for the State to participate in decisions regarding its sites.
- The Select Committee also recommends that OASFC receive advance notice of, and actively participate in any OHS meetings or discussions regarding potential changes in the management of the State Historical Facilities, as well as deaccessioning, decommissioning, transferring or selling of any of the State-owned sites. This is critical to protecting the validity of State bonds issued for these projects.
- The Select Committee further recommends that OASFC participate and assist in the development of a long-range master plan for the State Historical Facilities system including recommending the sequencing of maintenance projects and new construction projects.
- The Select Committee recommends that the following language be added to Ohio Revised Code section 149.30:
The Auditor of State, every five years, shall perform both a financial and a performance (operational) audit of the Ohio Historical Society. The fifth year financial audit as well as the fifth year performance audit must be performed by the Auditor of State's office, not an independent public accountant.
The fifth year performance audits are to be paid for by money appropriated by the General Assembly.
This language does not eliminate current code language, which requires the Auditor of State to do an annual fiscal audit of OHS. Currently, these audits are performed by independent auditing agencies certified and approved by the Auditor of State.
The Select Committee wishes to clarify that the recommendation discussed above was not created in response to poor record keeping by the Society or a negative fiscal audit against the Society. In fact, the Select Committee is satisfied with the fiscal integrity of OHS' auditing procedures. The primary motivation behind this recommendation is to simply ensure the existence of a clear understanding of the flow of money. Indeed, the Committee believes that it will be increasingly difficult for the Society to obtain increased state appropriations until the legislature is comfortable that it can follow the flow of the state subsidy given to the Society.
- The Select Committee recommends that the Ohio Historical Society be declared a "public office" as defined in Ohio Revised Code section 146.011(A) for purposes of the Public Records law and a "public body" as defined in Ohio Revised Code section 121.22 for purposes of the Open Meetings law.
- The Select Committee recommends that a mechanism be established for a formal public hearing process before a final decision is rendered on any land, building, etc. lease agreements be entered into by the Ohio Historical Society or for changes in public access to a state memorial or other facility operated for the public benefit by OHS.
- The State will partner with the Ohio Historical Society to create an Operational Endowment Fund, which will be used to help in funding the Ohio Historical Society's fulfillment of their contractual obligations under ORC 149.30.
Under this proposal, the State will set-aside $10 million dollars and place it into a state controlled "holding account."
In order for the Society to access any of the money held in this "holding account," the Society must contribute privately raised dollars into a newly created Endowment Fund. The Ohio Historical Society's contribution to the Endowment Fund must be privately raised dollars not user fees (such as admissions, parking, membership fees, etc.) or grants, etc.
For each $1 the Society deposits into the Endowment Fund, raised privately, the State would match it by transferring $2 from the State's "holding account" and placing it into the Endowment Fund.
This mechanism holds the potential for creating an operating Endowment Fund of some $15 million dollars comprised of both state and private dollars, and it has the potential for future growth.
The Ohio Historical Society would be allowed to use the interest generated from the Endowment Fund only. The Society would have to go before the Controlling Board or the Office of Budget and Management to request that the interest dollars be released from the Endowment Fund for allowable purposes.
This Endowment Fund proposal is in no way meant to supplant state GRF funding for the Ohio Historical Society operations.
Further details of this proposal would have to be accomplished with legislative implementation language, but this proposal does strike the balance the Committee is seeking to achieve - the opportunity for the Society to obtain additional state revenues at a very favorable matching rate and in return, the state sees a measurable and appreciable ($1 private dollar for every $2 state dollars) commitment of private money that will go towards the Society meeting its obligations to its partner as laid out in ORC 149.30
OHS has indicated throughout testimony of the need for more state funding in order to fully implement, reinitiate, complete, etc. its duties under 149.30. This Fund gives them access to increased financial resources provided they contribute privately raised dollars. Thus, they would have a method (that is accountable yet flexible) to obtain more money.
- The Select Committee recommends altering ORC 149.30(F) from "supplying one copy of each regular periodical issue to all public libraries in this state without charge;" to "supplying one copy of each regular periodical issue to all public libraries in this state at cost;"
- The Select Committee recommends that the Office of Budget and Management reorganize the appropriation line item structure in the state operating budget to the Ohio Historical Society.
This should be done in a manner that eliminates confusion and brings clarification to the flow of state tax dollars, which are used to subsidize OHS operational costs and the state tax dollars needed to carry out ORC 149.30 public functions pertaining to Historic Site Operations.
(a) The Committee further recommends that the Archives/Library functions of OHS be designated a separate line item for appropriations.
(b) The Committee also recommends the elimination of line item 504 - Ohio Preservation Office from OHS appropriated line items. This is consistent with the Select Committee recommendation to move the Ohio Historic Preservation Office from OHS to the Department of Development where a new line item will be created.
- The Select Committee recommends that the state research and consider special funding mechanisms which would help supplement GRF appropriations for historical programming and preservation in Ohio.
While most states use general state revenues and user fees from the historical agency to fund their historical and/or cultural programming, some use special funding mechanisms to help supplement that funding. Examples of other funding sources would be:
*issuance of special issue historical license plates (Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania)
*individual taxpayer check off to Historic Fund on state tax return (Illinois)
*transfer a portion of an existing tax stream to historical programming (Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri)
- According to the Legislative Service Commission, approximately 75% of the Society's total income comes from subsidies provided by the State of Ohio. Of this total state subsidy, some 60% is used for the operational costs of the Society. Yet, from the private side of this partnership, the Society raises 13% of its income from privately earned revenues, which can be used for operational costs.
Examples of areas that are considered privately earned income would include:
- Admissions and Parking
- Investments - Unrestricted
- Merchandise/Craft Sales
- Special Events
- Donations and Foundation Distributions
- Facilities Use
- Rent Income
- Colonel Crawford Inn
The Select Committee has heard testimony that the Society is beginning to address the relatively little revenue growth in some of these areas. They have begun to evaluate their admissions and parking fees along with embarking on a review of their current membership program and have assembled an internal volunteer committee, the Membership Program Advisory Team to assist in this review. They have also reevaluated the operations of the Colonel Crawford Inn and are looking at changes to the investments - unrestricted line in ways to increase income.
The Select Committee feels that this is a good start at reevaluating the Society's privately earned revenue, but much more needs to be done.
Therefore, the Select Committee recommends that the Society develop written plans or strategies for each of the privately earned revenue categories with the goal of increasing significantly the revenues generated in each area and implement those strategies as soon as possible with the overall goal of increasing the overall revenue generated by Private Earned Income above the 13% it currently generates.
The recommendations within this category are consistent with the increased reporting requirements that were recommended by the Ohio Historical Society Review Committee.
- The Select Committee recommends that approximately six months prior to the release of the Executive Budget proposal each biennium, the Ohio Historical Society provide an update of its Vision 2000 Strategic Plan to the Director of the Office of Budget and Management as well as the Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees. The Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees may then distribute the update to the respective members of their committee whose responsibility it will be to review the Society's budget. These Representatives and Senators will then have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Society concerning its non-fiscal goals. The objective here is to assist the General Assembly in understanding and gauging the effectiveness of the Society's objectives and goals. The Committee believes this recommendation will foster greater communication and coordination between the State and the Society.
- The Select Committee further recommends the Society provide a plan containing a budget with current and projected costs of the Society's general operations and of operating each state memorial by category, the sources and amounts of non-state income used at each site, and a management plan for each site on a biennial basis. This plan should include elements of, but not be restricted solely to the format of the management plan required by Amended Substitute HB 94. This plan is to be submitted approximately six months prior to the release of the Executive Budget proposal each biennium. An addendum to the plan will also be submitted immediately following passage of every biennial operating budget.
The plan and the addendum will be provided to the Director of the Office of Budget and Management as well as the Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees. The Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees may then distribute the plan to the respective members of their committee whose responsibility it will be to review the Society's budget. These Representatives and Senators will then have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Society concerning its budget plans.
- The Select Committee recommends requiring OHS to provide a report on their fundraising activity on a biennial basis to the Director of the Office of Budget and Management as well as the Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees. The Chairperson and Ranking Minority Member of the House and Senate Finance Committees may then distribute the report to the respective members of their committee whose responsibility it will be to review the Society's budget. These Representatives and Senators will then have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Society concerning its fundraising activity.
- The Select Committee affirms, in part, the Ohio Historical Review Committee's recommendation that a comprehensive facilities study that analyzes the adequacy of the Ohio Historical Center to meet the current mission and strategic plans of the Ohio Historical Society is needed. The study should focus on the need for restoration and renovation of the Ohio Historical Center at its current location. It should also evaluate the need for a new Collections Storage facility to be constructed as part of the restoration and renovation of the Ohio Historical Center.
As in the Ohio Review Committee's report, the study will include an analysis of the Statehouse as a venue that must be able to provide educational services and appropriate amenities and facilities to the thousands of school children and others who visit the Statehouse for educational experiences, including tours. This study should be done in cooperation with the Department of Administrative Services, the Office of Budget and Management, the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, the State Library of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio SchoolNet Commission, and the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission.
The recommendations which are developed out of this facilities study should not negatively impact nor be a detriment to executing the Ohio Historical Society's primary public function responsibilities as stated in Ohio Revised Code section 149.30 (A) and (B).
The Select Committee heard testimony on the need for joining the archival and records management programs in Ohio. The reasons for this included:
- It was inefficient for the records management and archives to be separate since they work together and are interdependent;
- This interdependence is more true now because more records are created digitally. Digital records require that archival and records management issues be addressed simultaneously;
- Public officials currently are confronted with two sets of records management procedures- one set for state records and another for local government records. Streamlining these procedures will facilitate program administration and simplify the government's public records obligations; and
- A combined records management and archival program is the predominate model in the United States. In fact, thirty-seven of the fifty states have a records management and archival program, which are combined together.
It was explained to the Select Committee that in Ohio, state records management is found within the General Services division of the Department of Administrative Services. It functions as outlined in Ohio Revised Code section 149.33.1. The State Archives of Ohio is a department of the Archives Library division of the Ohio Historical Society. The functions of the State Archives of Ohio are outlined in the ORC 149.31. It was presented in testimony that the state archives and records management have a good informal working relationship, but the formal separation of the two makes it difficult for each to function effectively.
Four options to merge these systems were presented to the Select Committee including the creation of a Commission of Public Records; the creations of an Ohio Department of Libraries and Archives; bringing the State Records Administrator into the Ohio Historical Society; and to create a Public Records Advisory Committee to advise OHS with public records issues and to coordinate the activities of the State Records Management and the State Archives. The majority of states use one or the other of the first two options mentioned above.
The Select Committee found the reasons for consolidation of records management programs in Ohio to be a compelling one but felt choosing the best method to be beyond the scope and expertise of this Select Committee.
Therefore, the Select Committee recommends the following:
- that a Records Management and Archives Coordination Task Force be created;
- the tasks of this Task Force include, but would not be limited to:
- review options and make recommendations designed to facilitate the effective implementation and coordination of the records management and archives consolidation. This merger should take place with an eye on:
- making the state's management system more efficient;
- eliminating duplication of services;
- Examining and recommending funding mechanisms to support a consolidated state records management program and other funding issues surrounding records management (i.e. JERRI program, State Archives/Library, etc.);
- Review purpose and function of the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board and its relation to this merged state records management system and make recommendations especially regarding whether to codify the Board in the Ohio Revised Code;
- review options and make recommendations designed to facilitate the effective implementation and coordination of the records management and archives consolidation. This merger should take place with an eye on:
- Membership on the Task Force should include but not be limited to representatives from the following bodies:
- the General Services division of the Department of Administrative Services;
- the Archives Library division of the Ohio Historical Society;
- the State Library of Ohio;
- the Ohio Super Computer Center;
- the Local government (i.e. county, township, municipal, etc.); and
- the General Assembly;
- Work of the Task Force and recommendations completed within one year.
- The Select Committee, after hearing public testimony (especially from Ohioans of Native American descent), recommends that OHS develop one or more mechanisms that will advance communications and allow for appropriate input on issues of mutual concern with such persons and groups.
The Select Committee strongly urges OHS to include in the development of these mechanism(s) those persons and groups previously mentioned along with any other relevant state personnel (i.e. archaeologists employed by the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, etc.).
The Ohio Historical Society will provide a written report on this effort by September 30, 2002. After which, the Select Committee will take up for discussion the report after it reconvenes in the Fall. A copy of this report will be provided to the Chairman of the Select Committee to Study the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships, the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, the President of the Ohio Senate, and the Governor.
- The Select Committee took note of the testimony regarding the lease between the Moundbuilders Country Club and OHS and recommends that the parties affected work diligently to afford reasonable public access to this significant cultural landmark.
The Ohio Historical Society will provide a written report on this effort by September 30, 2002 to the Select Committee, which will take up the issue for discussion when it reconvenes in the Fall. A copy of this report will be provided to the Chairman of the Select Committee to Study the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships, the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, the President of the Ohio Senate, and the Governor.
- The Select Committee recommends establishing the Ohio African American Hall of Fame. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to give recognition to the life and contributions of accomplished African Americans from the State of Ohio.
An annual induction ceremony will be held in the city of Columbus. Portraits and biographical information of the inductees will be housed in a suitable space located in the Ohio Historical Society. The National African American Museum located on the campus of Central State University will also be the repository of information on the inductees.
The governing board of the Ohio African American Hall of Fame will be comprised of fifteen members from throughout the State of Ohio who have a demonstrated interest in preserving African American History.
All funds needed to establish and maintain the Ohio African American Hall of Fame will be secured from private donations and foundation support.
- The Select Committee, after study, acknowledges the mutual benefits of strengthening the communications between state officials and the OHS Board of Trustees and urges the continuing attention of all parties toward implementing the conversations and reports prescribed by the OHS Review Committee in its final report.
- The Select Committee recommends that ORC 149.55, dealing with the state historic registry, be eliminated.
- The Select Committee recommends that ORC 149.51, the State Registry of Archaeological Landmarks, be eliminated.
Testimony was provided which stated that in the 26 years this program has been operational, not one archaeological site has been listed.
- The Select Committee recommends three changes to ORC 307.23, permits county commissioners to appropriate money to local historical societies.
- should be expanded to include preservation societies.
- appropriations can be used for restoration of historic buildings.
- appropriated limits should be raised.
Testimony was provided which stated that this law has been ineffective because it is too cumbersome to administer. In fact, only one property has been listed after more than twenty years.
- The Select Committee recommends creating a deaccessioning policy on collections system.
- The Select Committee recommends that the Director of the Travel and Tourism Division of the Department of Development be given full membership status on the Ohio Historical Society Board of Trustees.
The State possesses a unique public/private partnership with the Society that has clearly yielded many benefits. The Select Committee acknowledges the strengths and advantages of this partnership and believes that the recommendations it has proposed will serve to strengthen it and ensure its longevity. The undeniable key to maintaining a successful and enduring partnership involves periodically examining and revising the roles and the responsibilities of each partner.
The Select Committee has concluded that the best way to ensure the long-term viability of the state's historic sites as well as facilitate a clearer understanding of the use of State revenues in the Society's functions lies foremost in the State reestablishing itself in this partnership. Specifically, the State's role must reach beyond simply subsidizing the Society's operations.
The key to a successful partnership between the State and the Society lies in achieving an effective balance between accountability and flexibility. These recommendations were designed with the specific hope that they would lay the framework as to how best to achieve this symbiosis.
The Select Committee acknowledges that OHS communicates, reports, testifies, and responds on a far more frequent, comprehensive and systematic basis than do other recipients of State operating and/or capital funds appropriated for "historical" purposes. We urge our colleagues in the General Assembly to consider how the desirable objective of accountability might be appropriately extended to encompass the appropriations of historical projects not directly assigned or pursued by the Ohio Historical Society.
The Committee expresses its appreciation to OHS Board of Trustees President, Richard Sisson, Director Gary Ness, and the staff of the OHS for all of their hard work these past several months. The Committee compliments the Director and his staff for their excellent and informative presentations - they were asked to provide over eighteen different presentations on various topics as well as coordinate field trips to the Ohio Historical Center and Fort Ancient.
The Select Committee will reconvene in the Fall to review several of the issues and recommendations raised within this report and the Committee may issue an addendum to the report.