The following is a press release from DuPage County:
“Today’s findings represent the first time that the public has had an opportunity to assess the day-to-day operations and policies of the Election Commission,” said Cronin. “The report shows that the Election Commission is another prime example of why we initiated these ‘stress tests’ in an effort to identify problems that need to be resolved.”
The “stress test” raises questions about how the Election Commission awards contracts, administers appropriate ethics policies and uses taxpayer-funded credit cards.
The results of the “stress test” show that the Election Commission “needs to make significant improvements to its internal control procedures and practices” regarding credit cards, ethics and procurement.
The assessment report also shows that the Commission “failed to follow its own procurement policy in 12 of 13 contracts” that were reviewed by Crowe Horwath. The results reveal that these 12 contracts lacked competitive bidding, failed to disclose subcontractors and did not include information about the nature of the goods and services provided. In order to safeguard County assets and ensure the integrity of the procurement process, Crowe Horwath recommends all current contracts be reviewed for compliance with the policy.
In order to provide internal controls for personnel, the report recommends the Commission make significant improvements to its ethics policy and align it with the County’s procedure. Currently, ethics complaints filed by employees are submitted to Commission management. The report suggests these complaints be filed independently of the Commission.
The report also recommends improvements to the credit card policy through disclosing the authorized cards in addition to identifying staff members who are allowed to use them.
Other recommendations include:
- Increase accountability and transparency regarding information provided to residents in addition to easier public access to Commission meetings;
- Remove the requirement that public comment forms be submitted prior to meetings in order for members of the public to voice concerns to the Commission;
- Include more details and backup information in meeting minutes to support the actions taken by the Commission such as contracts, decision memorandums, financial statements, etc; and
- Share administrative roles between the Election Commission and the County administration for procurement, finance, human resources and information technology in order to save taxpayer money.
The “stress test” was initiated by Cronin last year following the financial crises at the Water Commission and the DuPage Housing Authority. Through state legislation, the DuPage County Board was provided the tools necessary to review the financial and operational structure of these independent agencies. The County Board hired Crowe Horwath to assess these 24 taxing bodies that account for nearly $300 million in public funds.
Cronin plans to release by early May the final reports on the DuPage Airport Authority, the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) and the fire protection districts of Fairview, Glenbard, Lisle-Woodridge, Naperville, North Westmont, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago and Yorkfield.
Following the release of all 24 reports, Cronin will submit his proposal to implement needed reforms that could include the consolidation of agencies in accordance with his mission to make government smarter and leaner.