Advocate for Government Reform
As the new Chair of the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation,
I have hit the ground continuing the work of the Assembly to ensure government
is working in an efficient and transparent manner. Especially in these hard economic
times, we need to ensure government is not wasting money.
Every year, dozens of new state-funded boards, task forces, advisory councils and
commissions are created, and often little is heard about them until one makes the
news for overspending or not fulfilling its mission. Therefore, the Oversight Committee
examined the rules and functions of more than 100 statutorily authorized advisory
boards, task forces and commissions to assess whether they are fulfilling Legislative
As this review got underway, it became clear that a comprehensive inventory does not
exist within any one office of state government, and that determining how much money
they spend or whether they fulfill legislative intent could be accomplished only anecdotally.
Furthermore, based on the group the Committee examined, only about half offer information
on-line — either on an independent website or through a state agency website — and public
meetings are listed there for only about 30 percent. Also, only about 20 percent of the
advisory bodies examined had line item budgets, making it difficult for a public citizen to
review spending, per diems, or travel expenses.
This means that average citizens, perhaps interested in tourism or specific environmental or
health issues would have to do some intensive investigatory work, first to learn whether an
advisory board, committee or task force exists, and then to find contact information, meeting
times and places, published reports or other products of the organization.
Therefore, the Committee drafted legislation (A.10052A
the Department of State to keep an updated list of all such boards on their website with basic
information about each, such as why they exist, when they meet, what products they have,
and contact information, as well as links to their websites if they exist. Also, the Department
of State would be required to keep on hand the boards’ funding information in case citizens
want that, and information on how average citizens could apply to be on boards.
This information will be an important step in improving accountability and achieving the goal
of a more open government, as well as provide information to oversight authorities when
considering whether to dissolve or merge certain boards which will save the state money.