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|Government Accountability Board|
The Government Accountability Board (GAB), which was created by
2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and began operation in
As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, we analyzed GAB's:
In July 2014, the Attorney General opined that statutes prohibit GAB from providing certain records to us. If we had been able to access all records, our conclusions may have differed.
Expenditures and Staffing
In recent years, GAB was responsible for completing a number of tasks that increased its workload. These tasks included helping to administer recall elections in 2011 and 2012, administering a statewide recount, implementing redistricting legislation, and working on photo identification issues.
GAB's expenditures decreased
In July 2014, GAB was authorized
48.75 full-time equivalent (FTE)
staff positions, 63.6 percent of
which were project positions.
Authorization for all 31.00 FTE
project positions will expire in
GAB's 2015-17 Biennial Budget Request indicates that the loss of project positions would impair the ability of GAB's staff to fulfill certain statutorily required duties, such as overseeing election administration.
In helping local election officials to administer elections, we found that staff fulfilled many statutorily required duties. For example, they provided a variety of opportunities for municipal clerks to fulfill statutorily required training requirements in recent years. In addition, they worked to improve the accessibility of polling places, in part by completing unannounced accessibility audits of polling places on Election Day and providing the results to the relevant clerks and municipal officials.
We also found that staff did not complete certain statutorily required duties in a timely manner. For example, statutes require GAB to conduct post-election reviews to determine if individuals with ongoing felony sentences may have voted and notify the relevant district attorneys if such individuals are identified.
Not until May 2014, when staff
informed GAB that they had
completed the review for the
After each General Election, GAB
is statutorily required to audit the
performance of each type of electronic
voting equipment and
determine its error rate in counting
valid ballots. Not until
In overseeing campaign finance, lobbying, and code of ethics laws, statutes allow GAB to assess penalties for various violations. In February 2008, GAB approved a schedule indicating the penalties staff are to assess for various statutory violations, including campaign finance reports that were filed late. We found that staff developed a manual that specified penalty amounts that differed from those in GAB's schedule. GAB did not approve this manual.
Staff were unable to provide us with complete information on penalties assessed for violations of campaign contribution limits, or on the number of penalties assessed for violations of lobbying laws, the amounts assessed, or why penalties were sometimes not assessed or were waived even though violations had occurred.
Staff did not regularly update GAB with complete information on efforts they took to enforce campaign finance, lobbying, and code of ethics laws. For example, staff did not regularly update GAB on the extent to which they assessed penalties for violations of these laws, the amounts assessed, and the amounts paid. However, staff did regularly update GAB on the extent to which state officials and employees did not file statements of economic interests on time.
Staff did not always have written procedures for deciding when to assess or waive penalties, and staff had no written procedures for considering complaints filed with GAB.
Because the process for rule
promulgation includes legislative
approval, rules afford the
Legislature an opportunity to
help determine how GAB fulfills
certain responsibilities. Through
We include recommendations for
GAB's staff to report to the Joint
Legislative Audit Committee by
In addition to the recommendations, we identified several issues for legislative consideration. The Legislature could consider modifying statutes to: