- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Recommends Improvements in Office of the Governor's Oversight of Boards and Commissions
Samantha Ormsby, Director of Communications
Boston — The Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) today released an audit that reviewed the processes and technology used by the gubernatorial Boards and Commissions Office (BCO) in filling positions on boards and commissions. The audit determined BCO had not ensured that the information entered into its boards and commissions tracking database was complete and accurate, creating the risk of positions not being filled in a timely basis. As of June 30, 2020, terms had ended for 248 (10.6%) of the 2,341 seats on active state boards and commissions. Of the 248 open seats, 230 (92.7 percent) went vacant for 200 calendar days or longer. In its response, the Administration notes that BCO has developed policies to address these concerns.
According to the Auditor, however, the records reviewed raise larger policy questions that are worthy of legislative consideration. “While our audit did not find the Governor’s office was failing to fulfill its appointing responsibilities, it showed the prevalence of the practice of ‘holding over’ appointees whose statutory terms have expired, and who should therefore either be re-appointed or replaced,” Bump said of the audit.
Among the 2,341 seats reviewed, the audit notes 978 instances of appointees with holdover status and 817 of which that have maintained that status for more than 200 days. “Governor Baker did not create the practice of “holding over” appointees. He is doing nothing more than what his predecessors have done. Nonetheless, the question must be asked, if statutory terms of office mean anything, should there be time limits on holdovers? It is a basic good government issue. I hope that members of the Legislature will consider this, since they enacted these terms of office,” Bump said.
Additionally, the audit notes that the Governor must make appointments to approximately 586 active boards and commissions. During the audit period, which examined July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020, 22 new boards and commissions were created by the Legislature with requirements for gubernatorial appointments. According to Bump, “Attention must be paid, by both the administration and the Legislature to the proliferation of these bodies, some of which are redundant or obsolete. Citizen service on boards and commissions brings a vital mix of diverse voices, knowledge and perspective to the table, but boards without relevant missions and real responsibilities are a disservice to the public and an administrative burden for the Governor’s office.”
GOV’s Boards and Commissions Office (BCO) has existed since 1991. It oversees appointments of appropriate and qualified candidates to all executive branch boards and commissions. For fiscal years 2019 and 2020, GOV’s state appropriations were $5,251,345 and $5,751,345, respectively.
The full audit report is available here.