Running An Organization With No Rules or Structure

GAO says there is little in the way of financial and operational oversight at the Commission on Civil Rights.

Can a federal agency operate without financial and management controls?

Common sense would tell you it isn’t possible. But, according to the GAO, it apparently is possible.

While it is small as federal organizations go, the Commission on Civil Rights apparently operates on autopilot with little or no oversight.

For example, one of the major functions of the organization is to issue reports in its area of expertise. And it apparently thinks this is important as there are project management procedures for commissioners and staff to follow when they plan, implement, and report the results of projects. But there is no requirement for commissioner input throughout projects. As a result, commissioners lack the opportunity to review many of the reports and other products drafted by Commission staff before the reports are released to the public.

Financial oversight? There isn’t any says GAO. An independent accounting firm has not audited the Commission’s financial statements for the last 12 years.

Contracting procedures? The Commission routinely ignored contracting procedures. For the Commission’s largest contract, key documentation on how the contract was initially awarded was missing. Moreover, the Commission has few controls over the administration of its contracts.

On the other hand, does anybody really care? GAO found similar results in the same organization a few years ago. Apparently little has changed. The organization keeps getting money with few consequences for poor or incompetent management.

You can read the report from the link on the left hand side of the page. The Commission has issued a press release regarding the report which emphasizes that the agency has improved since the last GAO report in 1997 and blaming some of the problems on lack of money and staffing in the organization. That press release is also available from a link on the left hand side of the page.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47