August 8, 1997
Honorable William L. Gordon, Presiding Judge
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
P.O. Box 21107
Santa Barbara, California 93121-1107
RE: Response to 1996-97 Grand Jury Interim Report Entitled:
"Boards and Commissions"
Dear Judge Gordon:
The following is the County Administrator's response to the 1996-97 Grand Jury Report entitled Boards and Commissions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Grand Jury for its report on this matter.
FINDING 1: Boards and commissions established by local resolution or minute order may no longer be needed because their original purpose has been accomplished. There is a need for a written policy for disbanding a committee.
Response: We agree with this finding.
RECOMMENDATION 1: Governing bodies should review usefulness of boards and commissions on a periodic basis, and a policy should be established to disband a committee no longer needed.
Response: This recommendation has been partially implemented in that the Board currently reviews the usefulness of boards, commissions and committees (B, C and C's) on a periodic basis. For instance, in May of 1994 a Board report (copy attached) was prepared by the County Administrator which reviewed the need, cost and effectiveness of 92 County B, C and C's. As a result of this report, the Board of Supervisors deleted six B, C and C's and determined that the Proposition 70 Advisory Board is to be eliminated upon expenditure of remaining Prop 70 funds. Moreover, in January 1997, acknowledging that the Economic Development Commission had achieved its mission, the Board of Supervisors disbanded it.
Decisions regarding the creation and/or disbanding of any County board, commission or committee not specifically provided for by statute rests with the Board of Supervisors. The Board makes those decisions based on input from B, C and C's, the community and staff which it receives through reports to the Board as well as through interaction with individual members of B, C and C's. Establishing a specific policy to disband a committee that is "no longer needed" is not considered essential and therefore will not be implemented at this time.
FINDING 2 : The County has no consistent method for updating memberships on boards and commissions.
Response: We respectfully disagree with this finding for the reasons indicated in the response to Recommendation 2 below.
RECOMMENDATION 2: The County should establish, adopt and implement a method for up-dating membership on boards and committees.
Response: This recommendation has been implemented. Government Code Section 54972 (copy attached) establishes the parameters which local agencies (County) must follow regarding the preparation of an "Appointments List" of ongoing B, C and C's as follows: "On or before December 31 of each year, each legislative body shall prepare an appointments list of all regular and ongoing B, C and C's which are appointed by the legislative body of the local agency."
The Clerk of the Board office updates the County Roster of Boards, Commissions and Committees (appointment list) monthly as the Clerk is advised of openings and of pending appointments. Members of the Board of Supervisors and their staffs have been provided a Roster as a "Data Ease" application allowing them on-line access to the most recent B, C and C's information. The Roster is completely updated and sent to Board members prior to the end of each calendar year (December 31) in accordance with the Government Code.
FINDING 3 : The County does not always list qualifications for membership in its Roster of Boards, Commissions and Standing Committees.
Response: We respectfully disagree with this finding for the reasons indicated in the response to Recommendation 3 below.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The County should establish, adopt and implement a consistent method of listing qualifications for membership on each board or commission.
Response: This recommendation has been implemented. Written qualifications for membership on B, C and C's are available during regular business hours in the Clerk of the Board office as a component of the "Fact Sheets" (samples attached) in the County Roster of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
FINDING 4 : The County process for filling vacancies on boards and commissions is vague. No clear cut responsibility is indicated, but left to individual supervisors, and/or departments. The County does not have a handbook to introduce new members of boards and commissions to County policies and procedures.
Response: We agree with the portion of the finding stating that a handbook does not exist to introduce new members of B, C and C's to County policies and procedures. However, for the reasons indicated in our response to Recommendation 4 (a) below, we respectfully disagree with the portion of the finding which states that the process for filling vacancies on boards and commissions is vague.
RECOMMENDATION 4(a): The County should establish, adopt and implement a consistent process, with clear responsibilities, for filling vacancies on boards and commissions.
Response: This recommendation has been implemented. A notice of vacancy on B, C and C's is completed and posted pursuant to Government Code Section 54974-Notice of Unscheduled Vacancy (copy attached) by the Clerk of the Board office. The Board of Supervisors fills vacancies upon nomination by individual Board members.
RECOMMENDATION 4(b): The County should provide a handbook or other written material to introduce new members of boards and commissions to County policies and procedures.
Response: This recommendation has been partially implemented in that departments responsible for the administration of B, C and C's often provide their committee members with written material regarding County policies and procedures. However, a general handbook for all new members of B, C and C's will not be implemented at this time. There are currently in excess of 80 B, C and C's active in the County covering issues ranging from Planning to Health Care to the Elderly and Children. It would be expensive to produce, update and maintain a policies and procedures handbook intended for distribution to all members of B, C and C's. As indicated above, individual departments which administer each B, C and C are responsible for the orientation of its members regarding County policies and procedures.
FINDING 5: The County did not submit any written material on how members of boards and commissions are educated about the Brown Act, or to which boards and commissions the Brown Act applies.
Response: We agree with this finding, but have no record of having received a request for such written material.
RECOMMENDATION 5: The County should develop materials, and perhaps a video, to educate new members on boards and commissions about the Brown Act.
Response: This recommendation will be implemented. The County Administrator will work with County Counsel to develop a written guide for new members of B, C and C's regarding the Brown Act. This material will be provided to each department for reproduction and distribution to B, C and C's for which that department has responsibility.
FINDING 6: Reporting to governing bodies via agendas and minutes may not adequately indicate effectiveness of boards and commissions. Annual reports are not consistently required or submitted.
Response: We agree with this finding.
RECOMMENDATION 6: The County should develop a method for Boards and Commissions to report their activities to governing bodies and the community.
Response: This recommendation has been implemented. Many of the County's B, C and C's report their activities to the Board of Supervisors and the public via annual reports placed on the Board's agenda (i.e.: Children's Network, Affirmative Action Commission, the Commission for Women etc...) Other B, C and C's report to the Board on an as needed basis. Moreover, the Board may, at any time, request a report from any B, C and C and/or solicit input from individual committee members. To require each of the County's 80+ B, C and C's to regularly report to the Board would add substantial hearing time to an already full Board agenda and it could reduce one of the benefits of the B, C and C's, which is to save the Board hearing time on a wide range of issues.
FINDING 7: An organization chart or matrix would help to clarify the function of each board or commission and its relationship to governmental structure. Such a chart or matrix would also identify redundancy or an unmet need.
Response: We agree with this finding.
RECOMMENDATION 7: Administrators should develop an organization chart or matrix to clarify the function of each board and commission and to identify the community need being filled.
Response: This recommendation has been partially implemented as follows: the purpose of each County board, commission and committee is listed as a component of the "Fact Sheets" in the County Roster of Boards, Commissions and Committees thereby identifying the "community need" being addressed. It may be worth noting that some B, C and C's are established by state statute in response to an identified statewide need.
However, establishing and maintaining a matrix or organization chart of all B, C and C's to clarify their relationship to government structure is not considered a high priority given limited staff resources and therefore, will not be implemented at this time.
Michael F. Brown
c: Patricia Fillippini, 1996-97 Grand Jury Foreperson
Stephen Shane Stark, County Counsel