Federal Election Commission

Office of Inspector General -- Semiannual Report

Period ending September 30, 2002

If you require the entire printed version of this report, contact the Office of Inspector General, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20463 or call Dorothy Maddox-Holland, Special Assistant, phone: (202) 694-1015, fax: (202) 501-8134, or e-mail: [email protected]

Executive Summary        

        I hereby submit this semiannual report to Congress covering the period April 1, 2002 through September 30, 2002. This report reflects our efforts to remain in accordance with the requirements of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, and summarizes the major activities and accomplishments of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Office of Inspector General (OIG). The Executive Summary recaps the accomplishments and general activities of the Office of Inspector General during the six month reporting period.

        The special project report entitled Limited Scope Building Security Review (OIG-02-02 Ė June, 2002), was completed and released by the Office of Inspector General during this reporting period. The review was conducted to obtain the following objectives: 1) to assess the effectiveness of the FEC closed circuit television (CCTV) security system; and 2) to provide suggestions to improve overall building security.

        The review was initiated for two reasons. Due to domestic and international acts of terrorism that have occurred in recent years, the Federal government has placed a greater importance on securing Federal facilities.  Secondly, the theft of an FEC laptop computer gave rise to concern over the adequacy of the FECís building security. Furthermore, according to GSA, the FEC is responsible for identifying problems with the internal building security cameras and CCTV system equipment, and alerting GSA to any problems that may need to be addressed.

        In order to achieve the stated objectives, an assortment of documents were reviewed. In addition, a variety of meetings were held to discuss several building security issues. The OIGís evaluation of the CCTV system also included a review of both the security cameras and the policies and procedures for the system. Although the report did not include any formal recommendations, several weaknesses were found that the IG staff believes should be addressed by management.  However, the OIG concluded that the FECís CCTV security systemis generally effective in providing surveillance of the FEC building.  To obtain more information relating to the review, see page 16, the section entitled Special Project

        The Office of Inspector General initiated an audit entitled Audit of the FECís Public Disclosure Process Ė (OIG-02-03).  The OIG received a request from Congressman Stephen Horn, Chairman, Oversight Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations, requesting a complete review of how the Commission is carrying out its disclosure responsibilities and how the Commission can improve its use of technology and its controls to monitor and remedy reporting discrepancies. 

        The objectives of the audit are to: 1) determine the extent, if any, of disclosure differences between candidate contributions reported by political committees and related committee contributions reportedly received by candidates; and 2) determine whether an adequate process is in place to remedy reporting discrepancies.

        During the preliminary stages of the audit, several meetings have been conducted with management to gain an understanding of the details involved in the FECís disclosure process. Although there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the audit is complete, the OIG continues to make progress in executing the audit. To learn more about the audit, see the section entitled Audit, starting on page 9.

        The OIG conducted follow-up work on a previously performed audit. The audit report entitled, Agency Controls for Governing the Process for Procurement of Vendor Training Services (OIG-00-01), released September 2000, was conducted to assess economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of management controls governing the process for procurement of training services obtained through outside vendors. Our audit covered several issues which related to staff development at the Commission using outside vendors.

        Although we noted no specific instances of fraud or abuse, based on the audit work, we concluded that agency controls governing the process for procurement of vendor training services were not effective or efficient. The original audit report contained seven recommendations. Prior to this reporting period, three of the recommendations were closed. However, as of this reporting period, four recommendations are still pending. For detailed information regarding the follow-up work performed see page 12, the Audit Follow-up section of this report.

        Because the entire IG staff is committed to assisting with the disclosure audit mentioned above, one project has been put on hold. During the previous semiannual reporting period, the OIG initiated an inspection of the FECís subscription / publication services. The inspection entitled, Inspection of the Commissionís Subscription / Publication Services Ė OIG -02-01), is being conducted to: 1) assess the adequacy of the level of funds expended for various publications; and 2) determine whether the current publication budget and expenditures accurately reflect the usage of these publications and whether or not these publications meet the needs of the Commission.

        Several meetings have been conducted with agency officials. One in particular was with the FEC Administrative Officer. This meeting was conducted to obtain agency publication acquisition policies and other information related to the subscription and publication services of the Commission. Although this project has been placed on hold, page 14 contains information pertaining to the work completed thus far on the inspection.

        The OIG investigates complaints and information received from Commission employees, management officials or others concerning possible violations of FEC programs and operations. Three requests for investigations were received by the OIG during this six month reporting period. For further details, refer to the Investigations section located on page 18.

        Listed below is a general overview of additional work performed by the Office of Inspector General over the past six months. Starting on page 19, in the section entitled Additional Office of Inspector General Activity, items are described in greater detail.

∑ Every year the Presidentís Council on Integrity and Efficiency and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency assembles a progress report which is a compilation of the major accomplishments of the IG community. During this reporting period, the OIG reviewed and provided comments to the draft version of the ECIE / PCIE FY 2001 Progress Report to the President. When the report is finalized and released, all ECIE / PCIE members, as well as the President and House and Senate Committees will receive copies.

∑ The OIG also provided comments on the GAO draft report entitled Inspectors General: Issues Related to the Consolidation of IG Offices.  GAO developed a survey which included 28 key elements related to IG independence. A draft version of the report was issued to all IGís with a request that a consolidated response be coordinated through the PCIE/ECIE Vice Chairs.

∑ The IG, as a member of the ECIE, maintains active membership with the council and its associated activities. During this reporting period, the Inspector General served on the ECIE 2002 Awards Review Panel.

∑ The Special Assistant to the IG continues to monitor legislative proposals which could directly or indirectly impact the FEC / OIG.  During this reporting period, the Special Assistant attended the Legislative Hearing on HR 4685, the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002.