Essential Management Functions at the Federal Maritime Commission Are Not Being Performed

CED-80-20: Published: Jan 18, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1980.

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Responding to growing criticism of increasing Government regulation and the steadily declining worldwide position of the United States merchant marine, Congress is making a critical reexamination of basic national maritime policy and regulation of ocean transportation. A review was made of the Federal Maritime Commission which dealt with planning, management control, auditing activities, utilization of staff resources, and organizational effectiveness.

The Commission was not adequately performing essential management functions such as planning and internal auditing, nor did it have an effective management information system. The Commission's planning activities were limited, uncoordinated, and related primarily to short-term objectives. As a result, regulatory actions were delayed, crisis-oriented, and reactive as opposed to anticipatory and preventative. The Chairman of the Commission and the Commissioners did not have a management information system providing complete, accurate, and current data on how Commission monies, people, and equipment were being used to achieve its objectives. The Commission had no internal audit unit to perform the auditing necessary to provide its management with an independent analysis of the Commission's operations. Productive external audits and investigations were being performed, but some types of investigations such as regular compliance work could not be carried out due to limited staff. Backlogs and delays in completing essential work in many of the Commission's bureaus and offices indicated that the Commission did not have a sufficient number of adequately trained staff members to carry out its regulatory duties and perform management functions. Finally, low morale and a lack of good communications at the Commission were attributed to the leadership style of the Chairman, ignoring the chain-of-command, and oversight by busy managers.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Maritime Commission should: (1) establish an office of planning to help define agency goals and objectives in relation to its mission, set priorities, formulate policies, and set performance standards; (2) establish an automatic data processing steering committee; and (3) establish an independent internal audit organization reporting directly to the Director. The Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission should (1) undertake a Commission-wide study to assess its staffing needs and training requirements; and (2) establish a continuing goal of improving communications and take a direct, personal interest in seeing that a participatory management approach is actively pursued throughout all levels of the Commission.

    Agency Affected:


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