U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:

Agency Lacks Basic Management Controls

HEHS-97-125: Published: Jul 8, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1997.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Cynthia Maher Fagnoni
(202) 512-7202
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' management of projects during fiscal years (FY) 1993 through 1996 and its process of disseminating project reports to the public.

GAO noted that: (1) although its review focused on the management of individual projects, it found broader management problems at the Commission; (2) the Commission appears to be an agency in disarray, with limited awareness of how its resources are used; (3) for example, the Commission could not provide key cost information for individual aspects of its operations, such as its regional offices; its complaints referral process; the clearinghouse; public service announcements; and, in one case, a project; (4) furthermore, significant agency records documenting Commission decisionmaking were reported lost, misplaced, or nonexistent; (5) the Commission has not established accountability for resources and does not maintain appropriate documentation of agency operations; (6) lack of these basic, well-established management controls makes the Commission vulnerable to resource losses due to waste or abuse; (7) Commission records indicate that projects accounted for only about 10 percent of the agency's appropriations during FY 1993 through 1996 despite the number of civil rights issues addressed; (8) management of the 12 Commission projects completed or ongoing during this 4-year period appears weak or nonexistent; (9) the Commission's guidance for carrying out projects is outdated, and the process described as how projects are actually conducted, including specifying anticipated cost, completion dates, and staffing, is largely ignored; (10) for example, 7 of the 12 projects had no specific proposals showing their estimated time frames, costs, staffing, or completion dates; (11) specific time frames were not set for most projects and when they were, project completion dates exceeded the estimates by at least 2 years; (12) overall, projects took a long time to complete, generally 4 years or more; (13) some projects took so long that Commission staff proposed holding additional hearings to obtain more current information; (14) poor project implementation is likely to have contributed to the lengthy time frames; (15) furthermore, GAO found no systematic monitoring of project costs or time frames by Commission management to ensure project quality and timeliness; and (16) the Commission disseminates project reports to the public through three different Commission offices, none of which appears to coordinate with the others to prevent duplication.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Agency officials report that the revisions to the C.F.R. have been finalized and submitted to the Federal Register.

    Recommendation: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights should develop and document policies and procedures that: (1) assign responsibility for management functions to the staff director and other Commission officials; and (2) provide mechanisms for holding them accountable for properly managing the Commission's day-to-day operations. This effort should include updating the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) to provide for public access to the current organizational structure, procedures, and program processes of the Commission.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Civil Rights

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Commission reported that the Administrative Instructions (AIs) provide internal management guidance to Commission staff. The Administrative Instructions Manual was completed, printed, and disseminated to headquarters and regional offices in early 1999.

    Recommendation: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights should develop and document policies and procedures that: (1) assign responsibility for management functions to the staff director and other Commission officials; and (2) provide mechanisms for holding them accountable for properly managing the Commission's day-to-day operations. This effort should include updating internal management guidance so that staff are assured that their efforts comply with the administrative policies of the Commission, applicable legislation, and federal rules and regulations.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Civil Rights

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Commission reported that a management information system that will accurately track the status of Commission on Civil Rights' projects has been in place since fall 1998.

    Recommendation: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights should develop and document policies and procedures that: (1) assign responsibility for management functions to the staff director and other Commission officials; and (2) provide mechanisms for holding them accountable for properly managing the Commission's day-to-day operations. This effort should include establishing a management information system for commissioners and staff to use to plan projects and track progress using the best information available about projects' expected and actual costs, time frames, staffing levels and completion dates.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Civil Rights

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Apr 4, 2016

Feb 3, 2015

Jul 25, 2013

May 16, 2013

Aug 2, 2012

Sep 30, 2011

Apr 28, 2011

Jul 29, 2010

May 24, 2010

Dec 3, 2009

Looking for more? Browse all our products here