Despite an unusual route to the position, USG Comptroller Fabio Saccomanno is looking to make the most of his time at his new desk by working to improve Tier II funding policies and increase transparency between students and the organization.
“I've had troubles with them myself as a Tier II president,” Saccomanno said in a sit-down interview with The Daily Campus Wednesday. “I was a Tier II president for a year and a half, and I'm sympathetic to groups not receiving funding. So I want to ensure that groups get as much funding as they can.”
Saccomanno, former President of UConn Travel Model United Nations, said he has been working to generally increase funding for Tier II organizations, which are clubs and organizations that rely on USG funding for their meetings and events.
While Saccomanno has reduced the overall budget allotted for all of Tier II spending to $650,000 from $750,000 in Spring 2019, he said USG will actually be spending more money than they did last semester to fund Tier IIs.
He plans on doing this by conducting a town hall, loosely slotted for the end of October, to better understand the financial needs of Tier IIs and therefore fund them more accurately than in years past. As an example, he mentioned that Tier IIs can ask for funding for Uber rides to the airport if they are traveling for an event instead of having to foot the bill themselves.
“People may have been denied funding because they didn't understand the new policies,” Saccomanno said. “We do expect to fund more than $511,000, but not more than $650,000, so that's why I've reduced it. But the very fact that I had to reduce it says that we're not funding Tier II’s is as much as we can be.”
Last year, USG funded $511,319.88 of the $750,000 budgeted for in the spring semester, according to Saccomanno, which he attributes to Tier IIs potentially not fully understanding new policies passed in the spring, reducing their funding. This is something he will try to fix with the town hall, as well as by increasing funding caps on things like equipment and event travel.
Many of the policies, he’s learned, are not malleable due to state and federal law or Tier III funding policies. However, there are some that can be changed to make the process quicker or more adaptable to the needs of Tier II’s. This is where the additional education on the new policies and increased caps could potentially benefit Tier IIs, so they must spend less out of pocket.
USG is also working on writing legislation to add provisions for “second-chance funding,” according to Saccomanno. This would be a pool of money to help Tier IIs should they miss their funding request deadlines without an explicit reason.
Aside from the betterment of USG funding policies, Saccomanno is working on increased transparency between USG and the undergraduate students that fund the organization.
“Every undergraduate pays $45 a semester, and I think that they should know where their money's going,” Saccomanno said.
In Saccomanno’s eyes, every student should have access to the timesheets of every paid USG student employee, but FERPA regulation does not allow that. Saccomanno is working to create a report of the governing board’s total hours worked per week, which he has been told is allowed to be released without FERPA violation. With this type of report, students will have a general idea of the amount of time their student leaders are putting in for them, should it materialize.
Saccomanno is also intent on setting a new precedent for comptrollers by presenting an expense report to the Senate at the beginning of spring semester, detailing how USG spends their money on the funding of Tier IIs, USG committees and the governing board.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @mmavredakis.