National Gambling Impact Study Commission:

Selected Operational Practices

GGD-99-46: Published: Apr 16, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed selected operational practices of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), focusing on: (1) whether NGISC is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and, if so, whether NGISC followed FACA with respect to three specific meetings; (2) what contracting procedures were used in NGISC's award of three major contracts; (3) why NGISC contracted for legal counsel instead of using government legal support; (4) whether NGISC attempted to interfere with the work of one of its contractors; (5) how Regent University employees were involved in NGISC activities; (6) whether NGISC has paid for relocating any staff; and (7) whether NGISC employees are allowed to work at a location other than the NGISC office.

GAO noted that: (1) FACA applies to NGISC; (2) for one of the three meetings, NGISC did not provide the 15-day advance notice in the "Federal Register" that is required under FACA and its implementing regulations; (3) a 2-day notice faxed to about 730 people from the media and general public allowed them to participate; (4) for another meeting, NGISC published notice of the meeting in the "Federal Register" more than 15 days in advance, but did not publish a summary of the agenda in the time required by FACA's implementing regulations; (5) information obtained from procurement records and NGISC indicated that NGISC sought competition in the award of two of the three major contracts that GAO reviewed and awarded the third on a sole-source basis after determining that one source was uniquely qualified; (6) however, NGISC did not document its efforts to seek competition for one of the three contracts, which left no record to assess NGISC's efforts; (7) NGISC contracted for legal counsel instead of using government legal support because the federal agencies from which NGISC sought legal assistance either could not or would not provide it, and NGISC determined that it would not be feasible to hire in-house counsel with the variety of expertise desired; (8) a National Research Council official involved in the administration of the NGISC's contract said that NGISC did not attempt to interfere in the Academy's contract work; (9) GAO identified six persons affiliated with Regent University, in addition to NGISC's Chair, who had some involvement in NGISC's work; (10) two of these persons were Regent University graduate students and a third was a graduate, all of whom volunteered their services for 2 days in August 1997 to assist in meeting preparations; (11) a fourth person, another Regent University graduate, worked part-time for NGISC for approximately 2 weeks in June 1997 to assist in NGISC's establishment; (12) the fifth and sixth individuals were Regent University employees who worked for NGISC's Chair in her capacity as Dean of Regent University's Robertson School of Government; (13) NGISC records did not indicate that it had paid for the relocation costs for any employee; (14) according to NGISC, two employees worked at locations other than NGISC's office for part of their regular work schedule for some period of time; (15) GAO found some confusion among NGISC staff concerning the details of one of the three employees, thus GAO believes that NGISC's internal controls over time and attendance were insufficient to prevent misunderstandings; and (16) NGISC improved these controls in early 1999.

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