Transparency and the Discipline Process

Several people have opined that transparency is a bigger issue than multiple hearings and efficiency for the CAS discipline process.  I couldn’t agree more.  So why are we tackling the multiple hearing and efficiency issues first?  Because a proposal came out earlier that addressed the multiple hearings and efficiency issues in a way that would be unacceptable to CAS members.  In response, CAS leadership worked with its counterparts to produce an acceptable proposal for those issues.  We believe that the proposal being voted on this summer is worthy of CAS member approval.

When will the transparency issue be addressed?  Hopefully next summer, but there are no guarantees here.  The current discipline process for the CAS is intertwined with that of four other organizations that rely on the ABCD for the investigation of alleged Code of Conduct violations outside Canada.  (Those four organizations include the Academy, SOA, Conference of Consulting Actuaries and the ASPPA College of Pension Actuaries, or ACOPA.)  This means that any change requires a negotiation and a compromise.  Even if all agree on the general direction, it takes time to work out the details.  (A roadmap to potentially improve the transparency of the current process was created over a year ago.  A task force has since been created to work out the details.)

But doesn’t the CAS currently have its own discipline committee?  Yes, but it relies on a joint body (the CIA in Canada and the ABCD elsewhere) to do the investigations and the initial hearings.  Think of the joint process as extending up to the grand jury and probable cause hearing before the handoff to the CAS Discipline Committee.

Why is there such a lack of transparency?  Because the CAS bylaws require that all discipline procedures be confidential.  The current broad confidentiality protection even prevents the CAS from telling the ABCD/CIA about the outcome of a case that ABCD/CIA themselves referred to us.  Current CAS bylaws make our discipline process a black hole – no information ever comes out of the process unless a decision of public discipline results – and those are rare events.

I was recently asked if having a joint discipline agreement would affect the ability to obtain transparency.  The answer depends.  For the part of the process after the handoff from the ABCD/CIA or the joint panel (under the draft joint agreement), the joint agreement has no impact on transparency issues or changes.  For the part of the process before that handoff, the bigger risk is not having a joint agreement.  The reason is that any change before that handoff will require some agreement from all the parties.  If the CAS members reject the draft joint agreement, the other parties may see less reason to compromise with us in areas of disagreement regarding transparency.

So how transparent should the CAS discipline process be?  Should information be shared with other associations and/or the ABCD/CIA?  When, if ever, should information about the process be made public?  Should members know which complaints are being considered?  Should the only public information be redacted case studies of actual cases?

I invite your responses to these questions and encourage the use of The CAS Roundtable as a vehicle for conversations among CAS members. Please “Leave a Reply” below.

The opinions expressed in this article are Ralph Blanchard’s alone, and do not represent any official position of the Casualty Actuarial Society.


About Ralph Blanchard

Ralph S. Blanchard III is the current President of the CAS and a Vice President and Actuary for The Travelers Companies, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut. Ralph earned his Fellowship in the CAS in 1983. Prior to serving as President and President-Elect, Ralph served a two-year term on the Executive Council as Vice President-International from 2007-2009. In addition to his past service on numerous committees, Ralph fulfilled a three-year term on the CAS Board of Directors from 2000-2003 and on the American Academy of Actuaries Board of Directors for the same years. Ralph has been recognized twice for his volunteer service to the CAS, receiving the organization’s Above and Beyond Achievement Award for volunteerism in 2004 and 2007. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics from Dartmouth College.

2 Responses to Transparency and the Discipline Process

  1. avatar Pat Teufel says:

    Increased transparency in the discipline process would certainly benefit the CAS and the actuarial profession. Whether or not the members vote to allow the Board to consider and proceed with a joint discipline agreement, the CAS should review its practices with respect to discipline of a member. There needs to be a balance between the member’s rights (innocent until proven guilty) and the ability of the organization to educate all of its members on matters associated with application of the Code of Professional Conduct. This was seen as the “thornier” of the issues associated with discipline, since it involves coordination with our investigatory body (Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline), consideration of how our proceedings coordinate with legal proceedings if any, and a myriad of other topics. The Board’s discussion of transparency in the discipline process can take place regardless of the current vote on joint discipline, and I look forward to a robust discussion on the topic. Meanwhile, we are very interested in what members think about transparency in the discipline process. What do YOU think?

  2. avatar Jay Morrow says:

    I think a certain amount of transparency is absolutely needed in this process. I also think it cannot be completely open as there is a certain amount of privacy that should be retained to protect the individual member, but the current process is a black box with no view in to anything. As an example, I submitted an issue a couple years ago where I thought a member had seriously breached several areas of our code of conduct. The only answer I got back from the process was that the case had been dismissed with no action taken. I asked for an explanation as to why it was dismissed and was simply told that no information could be provided. How are any of us supposed to understand what is or is not a breach of conduct if we are never given any explanation as to why something is not a problem when it looks like a problem to us? I believe at a minimim, the person filing a complaint should be provided some kind of reason for the final decision regarding that complaint.

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