Ark. Teacher System Director Called Out over Travel Expenses

October 27, 2008 ( - The head of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System resigned Thursday after a state audit revealed he spent nearly half of his time on the job and more than $34,000 traveling out of state.

The Morning News reports that Executive Director Paul Doane told members of state agencies subcommittee of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee he felt he had lost the confidence of the retirement system’s board and legislators. The audit showed Doane incurred $34,515 in travel expenses within a year of taking the job in April 2007. Among his trips, 18 were to Massachusetts and three to New Mexico, where he has homes, the news report said.

The audit also found Doane spent nearly 50% of his time as executive director traveling out-of-state to conferences or meetings. Several legislators criticized Doane’s travel expenses, as well as the board’s travel policies in general, which were expanded earlier this year.

State auditors told lawmakers Thursday that Doane had reimbursed the retirement system $2,784 for travel and expenses that did not comply with the system’s travel regulations or that had inadequate records, according to The Morning News.

Robin Nichols, chairman of the retirement system’s board of trustees, told the newspaper she hoped Doane would stay on until at least the end of the year, but said she expected the board to meet within the next few weeks and to accept his resignation.

State Senator Jimmy Jeffress, a retired teacher, told the newspaper teachers were calling for explanation of board members’ travel as well, but Nichols and Doane defended board members’ travels, saying they allowed board members to meet investment firms and visit with company officials with whom they would be working.

State Representative Bill Sample questioned why representatives from the investment firms could not travel to Arkansas.