Loose Lips

The Case Against Boards and Commissions

You have to fill them!

That's the only conclusion one can reach after reviewing the latest, draft list of positions that the Office on Boards and Commissions has to fill. A new one hadn't been posted since August of last year, but director Ron Collins was kind enough to send over what they're working with at the moment, which has had to be scrubbed for accuracy. Guy's got a big job. By my count, there are 166 different boards, commissions, groups, and committees, with between 3 and 51 members each.

Most of the ones with actual judicial authority, like the Zoning Commission and Historic Preservation Review Board, at least have a quorum (although for some, like the Rental Housing Commission, that's only a very recent development, after more than a year of insolvency). But overall, 22 are more than half empty, and 21 are completely empty—some never filled in their lifetime. That's a total deficit of 855 positions, give or take a couple.

In its committee report on the 2012 budget, the Council Committee on Government Operations and the Environment recommended that the executive office of the Mayor "undertake a project to identify those boards and commissions that can be reduced or eliminated, such that the efforts of the office can be better focused on the bodies performing the most vital functions." But when many of these commissions are created out of a feeling of one or another identity group needing as much attention as others, they can be hard to get rid of.

What can you do to help? Well, get in touch with the OBC, for one. Though many of the spots are filled by people who know people, they're trying to reach out more to members of the general public who want to serve. Plenty of opportunities for padding the resume!

Anyhow, here are the ones sitting more than half empty:

  • Juvenile Justice Advisory Group – 8 out of 15 positions empty
  • Commission on Violence Against Women – 21/30
  • Board of Industrial Trades – 7/15
  • Board of Professional Engineering and Land Surveyors – 4/7
  • Soil & Water Conservation District Citizens Advisory Board- 5/8
  • Unemployment Compensation Board – 4/5
  • Public Space Committee – 5/9
  • District of Columbia Educational Licensure Commission – 3/5
  • Recreation Assistance Board – 9/11
  • State Advisory Panel on Special Education for the District of Columbia – 11/21
  • D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund – 7/9
  • Small and Local Business Opportunities Commission – 7/9
  • Commission on African Affairs – 9/15
  • Board of Optometry – 3/5
  • Board of Respiratory Care – 3/5
  • Apprenticeship Council – 8/11
  • Statewide Independent Living Council 13/25
  • D.C. Child Fatality Review Committee – 20/32
  • Mayor's Advisory Committee on Child Welfare – 12/21
  • Mayor's Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Advisory Committee – 15/20
  • Unemployment Compensation Board – 4/5
  • Commission on Reentry and Ex-offenders – 12/15

Here are the ones that are completely empty:

  • D.C. Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee – 17 positions
  • Mayor's Commission on Food and Nutrition – 17
  • Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration Fatality Review Committee – 18
  • DC Pretrial Services Agency Executive Committee – 7
  • Homeland Security Commission – 7
  • Cable Television Advisory Committee – 11
  • Statewide Health Coordinating Council – 15
  • Commission on Fashion Arts and Events – 8 (new)
  • District of Columbia Vehicle Theft Prevention Council – 7
  • Commission for Women – 21
  • D.C. Occupational Health and Safety Administration – 7
  • Emerging Technology Opportunity Development Task Force – 23 (new)
  • Mayor's Interfaith Council – 30 (new)
  • Workforce Investment Council – 40 (reconstituted)
  • Gas Station Advisory Board – 5
  • Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation – 3
  • Child Fatality Review Committee – 20
  • State Rehabilitation Services Advisory Council – 21
  • State Mental Health Planning Council – 15
  • Youth Investment Collaborative – 36
  • Drug Prevention and Children at Risk Fund – 9/9

Comments

  1. #1

    I applied in November and never heard back...I assumed they were filled but apparently not. I guess I wasn't qualified enough, but I wish I knew what criteria they used!

  2. #2

    I know a lot of qualified persons interested in serving on boards and commissions. Why haven't these positions been filled?

  3. #3

    @ sb: The criteria? Donations, connections, relatives, etc. Bonus points if you're being investigated and have lawyered up. Double bonus points if Cooke or Bolden represent you.

  4. #4

    You are kidding Lydia, right? It actually makes sense then if I say we are better off with all those commissions and boards empty than to have them filled but act like DC Taxi Commission. Did you see the report of how autocratic they behaved and kicked the reporters out of a public meeting? They then went on and put a sign at their entrance saying video recording is illegal. How about that justification for an unconstitutional behavior, hah?
    Anyway, thanks for the eye opening report, and keep up the good work. By the way, I haven't had time to get my website running.

  5. #5

    how about "freedriver"?

  6. #6

    You are kidding Lydia, right? It actually makes sense then if I say we are better off with all those commissions and boards empty than to have them filled but act like DC Taxi Commission. Did you see the report of how autocratic they behaved and kicked the reporters out of a public meeting? They then went on and put a sign at their entrance saying video recording is illegal. How about that justification for an unconstitutional behavior, hah?
    Anyway, thanks for the eye opening report, and keep up the good work. By the way, I haven't had time to get my website running.

    email me if you have questions.

  7. Lynette S Fromme
    #7

    DONATE TO THE GERTRUDE STEIN DEMOCRAT CLUB

  8. #8

    Also, DC is required to have a recreational trails committee in order to get our allotment of federal trail construction money. Apparently this committee hasn't had a quorum in about 9 months, and if it doesn't get a quorum and have a meeting soon, DC will lose about $800k in FY2012 federal trail money.

    That would be a real shame since the feds are willing to fund 80% of our project costs. Anyone interested should go here:
    http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/On+Your+Street/Bicycles+and+Pedestrians/Trails/Recreational+Trails+Program+Overview

    To learn more about it.

  9. #9

    The official title is the Recreational Trail Advisory Committee. Here's what the website says about it:

    The District has a Recreational Trail Advisory Committee to assist with the program. In the District, the committee selects the projects and sends recommendations to DDOT to include in its annual budget. Then DDOT manages the project with the sponsor.

  10. #10

    All the Boards and Commission should hold their meetins on CAMERA and records to be available on web just like Council meetings!! You will then see in slow motion how DC operates!! Most have conflict of interest!!

  11. #11

    No need to worry about losing grant money in regards to the Recreational Trail Advisory Committee. DDOT has to write the grant to use that federal trail construction money, and they write the grants in such a way that no small non-profit can actually agree. So the money isn't used on hiking trails in the District.

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