Federal Election Commission

Office of Inspector General -- Semiannual Report

Period ending March 31, 2000



If you require the entire printed version of this report, contact the Office of Inspector General, Federal Election Commission, 1050 First Street NE, 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

This report is submitted pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, and includes a summary of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) activities for the period October 1, 1999 through March 31, 2000.

During this reporting period, follow-up work was conducted on three audits and two audits were initiated. The first audit entitled, Procurement Operations, is being conducted to determine whether the FEC has an effective and efficient procurement system in place and whether the procurement system complies with statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the FEC. The second audit entitled, Agency Controls Governing the Process for Procurement of Vendor Training Services, is assessing the adequacy of FEC’s control procedures for acquiring outside vendor training and to assess the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the management process currently in place to acquire vendor administered training. The audits and follow-up work are summarized below:

Audit of Procurement Operations - OIG-00-03, is currently in progress. The primary objectives of this audit are to 1) determine whether the Commission has an efficient and effective procurement system in place; and 2) determine whether the Commission’s procurement process complies with statutory and regulatory requirements. The OIG intends to determine whether the Commission has implemented the key acquisition reforms contained in the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994. The audit will involve steps such as interviews and review of records in order to achieve the audit objectives. It is anticipated that this report will be released during the next reporting period. Further details concerning this audit are discussed in the Audit section of this report.

Audit of Controls Governing the Process for Procurement of Vendor Training Services - OIG-00-01, is also in progress. The field work has been completed and the draft report is being finalized. The primary objective of this audit is to assess economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of management controls governing the procurement of training services obtained from outside vendors. The audit has included interviewing agency staff, analyzing training records and reviewing training related financial information. Additional information pertaining to this audit are discussed in the Audit section.

Follow-up work on the Audit of the Commission’s Management of Computer Software - OIG-98-05, was conducted during this reporting period. The original audit was released March 1999, with initial follow-up work completed during the last reporting period. The primary objectives of the audit were to 1) verify that the Commission’s computer software is in compliance with applicable copyright laws and Commission policies and procedures; 2) determine that adequate policies and procedures are in place to prevent unauthorized software use by Commission employees; and 3) ensure that adequate controls are in place to detect and prevent computer viruses. One finding and three audit recommendations were contained in the original report. One recommendation was closed during the initial follow-up work.

The follow-up work consisted of numerous meetings, the inspection of documents and the review of records in order to determine whether corrective action had been taken to resolve the remaining recommendations. Based on our review of documents, and correspondence with the Data Systems Development Division (DSDD) staff, we found that DSDD has resolved the two remaining audit recommendations. Details of the follow-up work are discussed in the Audit Follow-up section of this report.

Follow-up work on the Audit of the Management of Desktop and Laptop Computers (Computer Inventory) - OIG-97-03, was completed during this reporting period. The audit was originally released in January 1998, with initial follow-up work conducted during the prior six months. The primary objectives of the audit were to 1) identify and evaluate the adequacy of internal controls over desktop and laptop computers; and 2) evaluate the procedures in place to ensure that computer equipment having an acquisition cost over $5,000 is capitalized and that there is documentation to support the unit cost of computers under $5,000. Two recommendations were contained in the original report. The previous follow-up work reflected that while some progress had been made by DSDD, additional steps were needed to enable the OIG to close the recommendations.

During the follow-up work conducted this period, documents and computer equipment were inspected by the OIG. Several meetings were held with division staff to clarify outstanding issues. These steps were taken to determine whether or not corrective action had been completed to implement the outstanding audit recommendations. Based on our work, we concluded that the DSDD had satisfactorily implemented the two outstanding recommendations. The Audit Follow-up section contains further information concerning this report.

Follow-up work on the Audit of the Review of the Commission’s Employee Appraisal Process - OIG-97-02, was conducted during the last six months. The original audit was released January 1998, with follow-up work being conducted over the prior two reporting periods. The primary objectives of the audit were to 1) determine whether the Commission’s Employee Appraisal Process was in compliance with applicable Federal regulations and Commission Personnel Instructions; and 2) determine whether the Commission’s monetary incentive process is in compliance with applicable Federal regulations and Commission Personnel Instructions.

The original report contained four audit recommendations. The follow-up work conducted during the previous reporting periods revealed that only one recommendation had been implemented.

The follow-up work completed during this reporting period reflected the progress the Personnel Office has made in implementing two of the three remaining recommendations. Details concerning these issues are discussed in the Audit Follow-up section of this report.

The OIG also continued to monitor the Commission’s progress in addressing its Y2K responsibilities. The primary objective of this effort was to keep the Commission informed of reported progress of the FEC’s Y2K renovation project. The ability to deliver critical public services at the turn of the century was of extreme importance to the FEC. During an open session in November, the Chairman of the FEC asked the OIG to discuss the agency’s progress in the renovation of its computer technology to be Y2K compliant. This was the second public session held on this issue. The Commissioners were particularly concerned about the degree of assurance that the agency’s Y2K project team could provide for ensuring that the computer systems and related technology were prepared for January 1, 2000. In addition, the Commission wanted to know how project management was ensuring that agency contractors and vendors, who report their products and services as Y2K compliant; were in fact, compliant. Details regarding the OIG’s role in monitoring the FEC’s Y2K progress is located in the Audit section of this report.

The OIG participated in a project in which we provided input on the redesign of the FEC’s Web site. The primary purpose of the revamped Web site was to reorganize the material therein to offer the most efficient presentation of relevant and appropriate information to various audiences, including the general public, candidates, and the media.

Items available on the newly designed Web site include images of campaign finance reports from candidates for the United States House of Representatives, from Presidential campaigns, and from most other political committees. In addition, the FEC’s Web site hosts the OIG’s Web pages where we post copies of our audit reports and semiannual reports to Congress.

The OIG also reviewed and commented on a draft publication compiled by the Public Disclosure Division titled Federal Campaign Finance Reports Online: A Guide to Using the FEC Web Site. The guide is intended to be used by state offices which participate in the State Waiver Program to assist users in the navigation of the Web site and retrieval of information.

Three cash counts of the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) imprest fund were performed during this reporting period. Additional information on these last three projects can be found in the Additional Office of the Inspector General Activity section of this report.