Results in Brief
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (department) is responsible for enforcing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which provides for the licensing and regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, and transportation of alcoholic beverages within the State. Almost all of the department's enforcement efforts are responses to outside complaints from local law enforcement agencies, citizens, and other state and federal agencies.
Our review assessed whether the department's enforcement actions discriminated against establishments serving minority clientele. Because the department does not maintain sufficient data for us to conclude whether it discriminated against these establishments, we used various sampling techniques to attempt to address this issue. While we found no pattern of discrimination in our limited sample, we also lacked enough information to be able to say that no discrimination takes place. Our review did uncover other issues of concern in the department, however. For instance, district offices are not always consistent in the promptness or extent of their complaint investigations, even for high-priority complaints. In addition, they are not consistent in the penalties they assess licensees and in their application of mitigating or aggravating conditions during penalty assessments. It is because of the department's lack of clear guidance for prioritizing complaints and assessing penalties that it is vulnerable to accusations of discrimination.
The department also lacks the necessary information for good management decisions, relying on inaccurate data extracted manually from records at the district offices to track its enforcement activity and to report its workload to the Legislature. Recognizing that its current information system does not meet its basic needs, the department plans to update and enhance its automated system by April 30, 1999.
So that it can better serve the public by ensuring prompt follow-up of complaints that pose an immediate threat to public safety, the department should take the following action:
Furthermore, so that both headquarters and district offices can more effectively monitor enforcement activities, the department should do the following:
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control concurs with each of the findings we reported. Further, it has established timelines for the completion of corrective action on each.