Nearly a quarter of the state’s more than 300 boards and commissions have been inactive in recent years, according to an audit released Thursday, and the Quinn administration said it is looking at how to eliminate ones that are no longer needed.
The inactive boards listed ranged from the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness to the Steel Development Board to the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Task Group, according to Auditor General William Holland’s examination. The findings were part of an overall audit that also found many of the boards and commissions violate open meetings laws and fail to do basics like keep attendance at meetings.
Quinn’s office is in favor of looking for ways to cut down the number of boards and commissions but still keep in place the essential ones, ranging from the Illinois Commerce Commission to the Illinois Liquor Control Board, said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. The governor is seeking help from the legislature to move forward, Anderson said.
Quinn also has sought to merge to labor relations boards, one dealing with educational matters and another dealing with business and labor issues, Anderson said. Part of the reason some of the boards were inactive was because they’ve completed their duties, Holland said.
Another finding in the report was that Quinn continues to struggle with filling numerous vacancies in state boards and commissions, an area where he has come under increasingly heavy fire for making a variety of politically tinged appointments.
Holland reported that as recently as a year ago, 181 of the 309 boards and commissions reviewed had one or more vacancies. It also showed 145 of them was operating with at least one board member whose term had expired. In several cases, as many as five vacancies existed.
Cook County’s saga with Oak Forest Hospital represents an example of how vacancies can impact public policy. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle couldn’t convince the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to pass a plan to turn the hospital into a regional outpatient center until Quinn filled several vacancies. Taxpayers had to foot the bill for extra costs for keeping the hospital open in the interim.
Many of the vacancies were left from Quinn’s predecessor, impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and some parts of the study included periods when Blagojevich was still governor.
“It’s important for this governor or any governor to keep his appointments as complete as possible,” Holland said. Boards need to be fully staffed because they often are created to address festering public policy issues, he said.
Anderson said Quinn has made more than 1,270 appointments since taking office in January 2009. But it is a major task because terms are constantly expiring and candidates for positions need to be vetted before they are appointed, she said. In some cases, the governor’s office already has addressed Holland’s concerns, she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun