FEC -- Audit of FEC Compliance with the Government in Sunshine Act

Federal Election Commission

Office of Inspector General -- Audit Report

Audit of FEC Compliance with the Government in Sunshine Act: Executive Summary

March 29, 1996

If you require the entire printed version of the audit 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: dmaddox@fec.gov.
Executive Summary

The Office of Inspector General recently completed a compliance audit of the Federal Election Commission's enforcement of the Government in Sunshine Act. The audit covered Calendar Years 1994 and 1995. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was in compliance with key administrative provisions of the Government in the Sunshine Act.

We found the FEC to be in compliance with the key administrative provisions of the Government in Sunshine Act. The key provisions are public notification of meetings, recording and legal certification of members' votes, the maintenance of complete recordings/transcripts of meetings and the submittal of an annual report to Congress.

This audit was designed to provide reasonable assurance about compliance with the Sunshine Act. In complying with Government auditing standards, we obtained an understanding of management controls that are relevant to this compliance audit. Management is responsible for establishing effective controls to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Our report documents the system in place to comply with the Act and the FEC 11 CFR Part 2 Sunshine Regulations; Meetings.

The Government in the Sunshine Act was enacted in 1976 and declares that the public is entitled to the fullest practicable information regarding the decision-making process of the Federal government. The Act requires agencies to open all their meetings to public observation, except when it is anticipated that matters exempt under the Act likely will be discussed.

Our audit focused on the administrative requirements of the Government in Sunshine Act which requires federal agencies to:

(1) Provide public notice of their meetings indicating such items as the time, location, subject of the meeting, whether the meeting is opened or closed to the public, and the name and phone number of an agency official designated to respond to requests for information about the meeting.

(2) Record members' votes to close meetings to the public accompanied by a written statement explaining the closing action, and supported by a certification by the chief legal officer that the decision to close was appropriate.

(3) Maintain complete transcripts and/or electronic recordings or minutes of the meetings.

(4) Submit an annual report to Congress on their compliance with the Act.

We reviewed the Act and FEC regulations, interviewed staff, reviewed meeting records, documents, and announcements, and listened to tapes. We selected a number of open and closed meetings conducted during CY 1995 and verified that the administrative procedures were followed.

We reviewed the FEC 1994 Sunshine Act Annual Report to Congress for accuracy by verifying the number of meetings reported and their classification as open or closed. We also reviewed the report's contents for compliance with requirements identified in the law and other information requested by Congressional subcommittees in 1995.

We did our field work between November 1, and December 22, 1995 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.