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Other Matters: The Office of the Governor Should Improve Monitoring of Holdover Appointments.

There were 978 instances of appointees with holdover status.

Table of Contents

Overview

During our audit, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) analyzed the Office of the Governor’s (GOV’s) Intranet Quorum (IQ) database to determine whether the Governor immediately filled vacancies on boards and commissions as prescribed by state laws, regulations, or executive orders. During this analysis, GOV officials told us that many appointees of the Governor had holdover status as of the date of our review (June 30, 2020). Holdover status was described to us as a status where the appointment term has ended, but the appointee continues to serve on the board or commission until a replacement is appointed. GOV officials identified 978 instances, among the 2,341 seats we tested, of appointees with holdover status.

During our analysis, we did not see any indication of GOV effectively managing holdover status, such as inclusion in IQ or any other data source. GOV officials told us that holdover status was intended to be a short-term option to extend a term of an appointee whose term was about to expire when the appointee was in the middle of completing a task or there was a delay in filling an appointment. As shown below, 817 (83.5%) of appointees reported as holdovers have had this status for more than 200 days.

Number of Days in Holdover as of June 30, 2020

Number of Board/Commission Seats in Holdover

Less than 200

161

2001,000

486

1,0012,000

213

2,0013,000

51

3,0014,000

39

Over 4,000

28

Total

978

 

We recommend that GOV record in IQ whether an appointment has holdover status, along with the holdover duration, and document its communications with each board and commission to end the holdover status by either reappointing the current appointee or recruiting a new one to fill the seat.

Auditee’s Response

As discussed above, any member in an active seat on an active board who is serving beyond his or her initially appointed term is serving in holdover status and exercises all of the powers of the appointed position, as provided by G. L. c. 30, § 8. This general rule applies to all public officers appointed by the Governor, unless the board or commission’s enabling statute provides otherwise. Members serving in this capacity have the same rights and privileges as those who are serving with an active term. The policy reasons supporting this provision are well established, and the BCO sees no reason to devalue the continuing service of these members who often serve for little to no remuneration.

While there is no field in the IQ database labeled “holdover,” the BCO can use IQ to identify members serving in holdover status by reviewing active members on active boards who continue to serve beyond their term end date. The BCO will continue to consult with boards’ and commissions’ staff members, Secretaries, and agency staff to review those appointees who are serving in holdover, to confirm their status and consider whether a change needs to be made to the seat. The BCO is currently sending IQ data to these staff members to increase communication regarding the holdover status of members. The BCO will focus this outreach on the seats that have been in holdover status the longest.

Auditor’s Reply

We recommend that GOV improve its management of IQ in relation to members in holdover status. Our recommendation is that the Boards and Commissions Office (BCO) note in IQ whether an appointee is a holdover actively serving on a board or commission and, if so, what is the anticipated duration of the holdover status. We also recommend that GOV document its communications with each board and commission to end holdover status by either reappointing the current appointee or recruiting a new one. A new appointment or reappointment does not devalue the continuing service of board or commission members as GOV suggests above.

GOV’s response above is that BCO can “identify members serving in holdover status by reviewing active members on active boards who continue to serve beyond the end of their term.” When we reviewed IQ, there was no identifier that OSA saw, or that was communicated to us, to differentiate holdover members. GOV’s response stating that it will review appointees currently serving in holdover status to determine whether they are still serving and whether a seat change is appropriate is what we recommended. OSA also recommends documenting in IQ how long a member will be available to serve as a holdover. Also, since most holdovers identified as of June 30, 2020 had been in holdover status for more than 200 days, we recommend taking an additional step to formally reappoint members who express a desire to serve on their boards or commissions for additional full-length terms.

Date published: September 23, 2021
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