Without the presence of a quorum, administrative boards have no power to take binding votes or make official decisions: Few procedural rules are more elementary. It is inexcusable that professional licensing boards overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have been flouting this basic rule for years. If the state’s boards of registration can’t comply with so straightforward a requirement, how can they be trusted to pass judgment on whether health care professionals are living up to far more stringent expectations?
As the Globe’s Todd Wallack reported recently, seven of the licensing boards supervised by the Department of Public Health have convened more than a dozen times in total during recent years despite lacking the legal quorum necessary to do business. Under Massachusetts law, a quorum consists of a majority of the total number of positions on the board. Thus, the 10-member Board of Registration in Pharmacy requires at least six members to be present for the board to act. Yet the pharmacy board has held meetings and taken binding votes with as few as four members on hand.