U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:

Update on Its Response to GAO Recommendations

HEHS-98-86R: Published: Feb 3, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 3, 1998.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Commission on Civil Rights' activities in preparation for the agency's reauthorization, focusing on: (1) the Commission's management of projects during fiscal years 1993-1996; (2) general management issues at the Commission; and (3) the Commission's response to GAO's recommendations.

GAO noted that: (1) it found broad management problems at the Commission; (2) it appeared to be an agency in disarray, with limited awareness of how its resources were used; (3) the Commission had not established accountability for resources and did not maintain appropriate documentation of agency operations; (4) GAO concluded that a lack of these basic, widely accepted management controls made the Commission vulnerable to resource losses due to waste or abuse; (5) problems found in the Commission's general management of its operations were also present in the Commission's management of projects; (6) the Commission's guidance for carrying out projects was outdated and the process described to GAO for actually conducting projects was largely ignored; (7) specific time frames were not set for most projects, and when they were, project completion dates exceeded the estimates by at least 2 years; (8) GAO found that, overall, projects took a long time to complete, generally 4 years or more; (9) also, Commission management did not systematically monitor project costs or time frames to ensure project quality and timeliness; (10) GAO concluded that the Commission's management of projects appeared weak or nonexistent; (11) in its report, GAO made two general recommendations that the Commission develop and document policies and procedures that assign responsibility for management functions, and provide mechanisms for accountability of Commission operations; (12) GAO made three specific recommendations that included updating the Code of Federal Regulations regarding Commission's operations, updating the Commission's internal guidance, and establishing a management information system; (13) the Commission accepted all of the recommendations and has been working to satisfy them; (14) as of January 23, 1998, the Commission's new staff director stated that her performance in that role has satisfied the two general recommendations and that Commission efforts were under way to satisfy the three specific recommendations; (15) the time frame for implementation of the first specific recommendation is expected to slip from September 1998 to mid-fiscal year 1999; implementation of the second recommendation is expected to be complete by September 1998; and (16) the time frame for full implementation of the third recommendation has slipped from October 1997 and is now expected by February 1998.

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