To ensure that all designated parties complete statements of economic interests as the law requires, Consumer Affairs should improve its policies and procedures to ensure that it identifies any incomplete statements and promptly notifies the Fair Political Practices Commission when necessary.
In January 2016, the Department of Consumer Affairs (Department) implemented an online, paperless filing system for all of its designated filers to ensure timely and complete filing of Statement of Economic Interest (Form 700) upon appointment, annually every April 1 and upon leaving the Department. The Department's nearly 1600 designated filers now use NetFile, a paperless online system to electronically file their Form 700. This online filing is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any computer with internet access. NetFile ensures required data is complete and allows the Department and its Boards and Bureaus to monitor, as well as follow up with filers before important deadlines. Moreover, all data is saved for future filings and can be accessed and updated by the filer at any time.
All of the California State Athletic Commission's designated filers completed an annual Statement of Economic Interest before the April 1, 2016 deadline. Included below is an example of the data pulled from the Department's NetFile system.
Name Type Filed Deadline Department Position
Ayala, Luis An 3/21/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
Carve, John An 3/17/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
Corne, Sophi An 2/17/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC SSManager I
Fost, And An 3/16/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Exec Officer
Frier, John An 3/28/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
Lehman, Mary An 3/30/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
Saut, VanGor An 3/18/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
ShenUr, Mar An 3/23/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
Williams, V An 3/21/2016 4/1/2016 CSAC Commissioner
The Department of Consumer Affairs continues to work closely with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), as well as all Boards within the DCA umbrella, to ensure all conflict-of-interest filings are timely and complete. To streamline its current procedures and ensure that all designated parties complete Form 700s correctly and timely, the Department executed the purchase order for an electronic conflict-of-interest filing system on September 3, 2015. This online filing system will provide custom notification to filers, ensure minor errors are corrected before filing with the Fair Political Practices Commission and enable the Department to monitor the status of each filer's forms (not started, started but not completed, completed and submitted) and run management reports.
The Department is currently working with the vendor on the specific needs of the system to best serve its designated filers. The Department anticipates access to the new online Form 700 filing system will be available later this year. At that time, the Department will distribute a revised conflict-of-interest procedures memo to all filers, as well as the necessary training modules, in order to properly educate, register and prepare users of the new conflict-of-interest filing system.
Policies and procedures regarding the Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests are outlined in the Department's Board Member Orientation Training, which Board Members are required to complete within one year of assuming office. Additionally, the Deputy Director for Board and Bureau Relations regularly communicates with Bureau Chiefs, Executive Officers and Board Members regarding Form 700 filing deadlines. The Department also has an attorney in its Legal Unit designated as the Ethics Officer available to answer conflict-of-interest questions.
In April 2014, the Department re-assigned the Filing Officer responsibility, obtained additional training from the Fair Political Practices Commission and established an internal automated Board Member database that records and tracks the trainings and forms Board Members are required to complete by law, including the Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests. The Board Member database is now the single repository to track Form 700 Statements, allowing the Department to proactively follow up with Board Members and ensure filing deadlines are met.
Additionally, the OHR is thoroughly reviewing departmental procedures to ensure the roles and responsibilities for all parties in the process are clearly defined. A revised procedure memorandum is in development and the Filing Officer will increase communication with the program liaisons, to ensure more timely information on new and departing staff is provided to the Filing Officer.
The Department intends to procure an electronic conflict-of-interest filing system which will have the capability to provide custom notification to filers, ensure minor errors are corrected before filing, monitor the status of each filer's forms (not started, started but not completed, completed and submitted) and provide timely management reports. The Department expects the e-filing system to be operational for the annual Form 700 filing period in April 2015.
Policies and procedures regarding the Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests are outlined in the Department's Board Member Orientation Training, which Board Members are required to complete within one year of assuming office. Additionally, the Deputy Director for Board and Bureau Relations regularly communicates with Bureau Chiefs, Executive Officers and Board Members about the mandatory training requirements and when the trainings/webcasts are available. The Department also has an attorney designated as the Ethics Officer.
The Department continues to work closely with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), as well as all Boards within the DCA umbrella, to ensure all conflict-of-interest filings are timely and complete. DCA has provided a copy of the Departments conflict-of-interest procedures process, which includes identifying incomplete statements and notifying the filer and the Fair Political Practices Commission, when necessary.
The Department began developing an internal database to record and track the timely submission of Board Member conflict-of-interest filings (Form 700 assuming office, annual and leaving office), as well as all required trainings. We anticipate this database will be completed by July 2014. This database will allow the Department to audit compliance with the Form 700 deadlines (30 days assuming office, annually April 1, 30 days leaving office), as well as proactively follow up with appointees and designated board staff.
The Department is also researching electronic conflict-of-interest filing systems in use by other government agencies, that allow required filers to create a profile, log in and securely file and e-sign their Form 700.
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) remains committed to achieving implementation of the recommendations contained in your March 2013 report. We continue to work closely with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), as well as all Boards within the DCA umbrella, to enhance the conflict-of-interest filing and required reporting processes.
After receiving your March recommendations, we launched a review of our assuming and leaving office procedures. Due to concerns with the accuracy of our database, we are working to enhance and streamline our procedures to accurately track and proactively follow-up with appointees and designated Board staff required to file a Form 700, Statement of Economic Interest, to ensure timely completion of required forms as well as required trainings.
The Department of Consumer Affairs appreciates every opportunity to improve operations at CSAC and all Boards. We take your recommendations seriously and look forward to reporting additional progress to you in our one-year response.
Consumer Affairs indicated that follows the guidelines as set forth in the Fair Political Practices Commission Notification Guidelines for Filing Officers Statement of Economic Interests.
Although Consumer Affairs indicated that it follows the guidelines set forth in the Fair Political Practices Commission Notification Guidelines for Filing Officers Statement of Economic Interests, these guidelines did not prevent the oversight we found during our audit. Thus, Consumer Affairs needs to make improvements to its policies to ensure these oversights do not continue.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.