U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:

Agency Lacks Basic Management Controls

T-HEHS-97-177: Published: Jul 17, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1997.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carlotta C. Joyner
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

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

GAO discussed the findings in its recent report on the management of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, focusing on the: (1) general management issues; and (2) management of the Commission's projects.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO found broad management problems at the Commission on Civil Rights; (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, its clearinghouse, its public service announcements, and, in one case, a project; (4) furthermore, significant agency records documenting Commission decision-making 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 fiscal years 1993 through 1996 despite the broad array of civil rights issues addressed; (8) furthermore, GAO's work showed that management of the 12 Commission projects completed or ongoing during this 4-year period appeared weak or nonexistent; (9) the Commission's guidance for carrying out projects is outdated, and the practice described to GAO for conducting projects, including specifying anticipated costs, completion dates, and staffing, was largely ignored; (10) for instance, 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 likely contributed to the lengthy time frames; (15) moreover, GAO found that Commission management did not systematically monitor projects to ensure quality and timeliness; (16) finally, Commission project reports are disseminated to the public through three different offices, none of which appears to coordinate with the others to prevent duplication; (17) GAO made several recommendations in its report about improving management at the Commission; and (18) even though the commissioners did not all agree with GAO's findings, they did agree to implement the recommendations.

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