Federal Election Commission

Office of Inspector General -- Semiannual Report

Period ending September 30, 2001

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: oig@fec.gov.

Executive Summary

      This semiannual report covering the period April 1, 2001 through September 30, 2001, is submitted pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended.  This Executive Summary provides a brief synopsis of accomplishments and general activities pertaining to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

      The Office of Inspector General released three inspection reports during this reporting period.  Inspection of the Commission’s Web Site Privacy Practices (OIG-01-02 - May, 2001), the first to be released, was initiated as a result of a statutory requirement regarding Section 646 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2001.  The Act requires each Federal Inspector General to submit a report to Congress on their agency’s Internet site privacy practices.

      The primary objectives of the inspection were to evaluate the Commission’s Web site privacy practices to: 1) determine whether the Commission utilizes Internet cookies or Web bugs, and whether applicable Federal guidelines are being followed; and 2) evaluate the Commission’s Web site privacy policy in accordance with Federal guidelines.  To complete the inspection, various steps were performed including meetings with several divisions relating to the FEC’s Web site privacy practices, and reviewing the accuracy and adequacy of the FEC’s Web site privacy statement. 

      The OIG concluded that the Commission is in compliance with applicable Office of Management and Budget guidelines on Web site privacy.  In addition, the OIG found the Commission is adhering to the stated Web site privacy policy.  However, our inspection report contained six suggestions for improvement, five have been implemented and one remains outstanding.  Significant information regarding this inspection is located on page 15, the section entitled Inspection Reports.

      The second report entitled, Inspection of the Commission’s Compliance with the Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) of 1982 (OIG-01-03 - June, 2001), was performed to assess the Commission’s program for meeting the requirements of the Act. The objectives were to: 1) evaluate the Commission’s compliance with the provisions of the Federal Managers’ Integrity Act of 1982, General Accounting Office (GAO) Standards, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policies, and Commission directives; 2) determine whether the Commission adequately implemented agency policies and procedures to assess, as well as strengthen the internal control environment; 3) determine whether the Commission’s Annual FMFIA report for Fiscal Year 2000 to the President and Congress accurately represented the adequacy of the review process within the Commission; and 4) follow up on issues addressed during the 1991 review of the Commission’s FMFIA program.

      The OIG found the Commission’s FMFIA review process to be inadequate.  Several examples of noncompliance with OMB and Commission policies were identified and conveyed to management.   The FMFIA review process lacked documentation, management control plans and the required assurance statements.  Page 19 contains more information in reference to this report.

      Inspection of the Commission’s Westlaw Database Service (OIG-01-05 - June, 2001), the third and final inspection report released during this reporting period, was conducted after the OIG discovered that a separated employee’s Westlaw account remained open several months after the employee left the agency.  The objectives of the inspection were to: 1) ensure that the Westlaw accounts of separated employees are properly canceled; and 2) review and evaluate the payment process of the Westlaw service. 

      Overall, the OIG found weaknesses in the management of the Westlaw service.  In addition, the OIG discovered a pattern of improper payments occurred over a specified period of time.   The OIG concluded the weaknesses were the result of inadequate internal controls of the Westlaw program and the improper payments were inadvertent errors and not the result of fraud or abuse.  Additional information pertaining to this report can be found on page 25.

      Follow-up work on the audit entitled Agency Year 2000 Renovations - OIG-98-08, was conducted during this reporting period.  The original audit, released May 1999, was performed to assess the reported progress of the FEC to convert and implement Y2K repairs on its computer systems.  The report included nine audit recommendations to management, three were closed during a previous reporting period, the other six remained open.

      The OIG recognized that the outstanding Y2K audit recommendations presented a unique situation, and as such the audit follow-up process was modified.  Since the audit recommendations were directed to a specific point in time (January 1, 2000), the OIG has chosen to close the six outstanding recommendations contained in the original audit report.  The Audit Followup section, located on page 13, contains more information on the follow-up work conducted.

      During this semiannual period the Office of Inspector General completed a peer review entitled, Peer Review of the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) (OIG-01-08 - September, 2001). The objectives of the peer review were to determine whether the FHFB OIG’s internal quality control system is designed to provide a reasonable assurance that the audits it performs, and the audits conducted by nonfederal auditors of FHFB programs and activities, are carried out in accordance with Government Auditing Standards. Detailed information regarding the peer review is discussed on page 34.

      The OIG also initiated a special project pertaining to staff retirement.  The purpose of the retirement project is to provide an analysis of the FEC’s projected employee retirements.  The OIG analysis will include statistics on employee retirements within a time period of five, seven, and ten years.  More information relating to this special project is located on page 35. 

      During a previous reporting period, the Office of Inspector General initiated an audit entitled, Procurement Operations (OIG-00-03). The primary reason for conducting the audit is to see if the FEC has implemented the key acquisition reforms contained in the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994. The primary objectives of the audit are to: 1) determine whether or not 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. 

      Specific steps have been taken to complete the audit such as reviewing records and selecting the audit sample, however, due to several time sensitive projects, minimal progress was made towards completing the audit before the end of this reporting period.  Additional information regarding this audit can be found in the Audit Reports section, located on page 11. 

      Listed below are highlights of additional activities conducted by the Office of Inspector General during this reporting period. Items are described in greater detail, starting on page 30, the section entitled Additional Office of Inspector General Activity.

Since GISRA amends the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and the FEC is exempt from PRA, the OIG worked with its counsel to ascertain whether the FEC has any responsibility under GISRA.  The OIG also contacted an OMB representative to determine whether an expectation exists for the FEC to follow GISRA.   After numerous conversations, the OIG was informed by the OMB representative and the IG Counsel that the agency is exempt from GISRA, therefore, the FEC and the FEC OIG are not required to submit reports.

The results of our cash counts revealed that all cash was accounted for and disbursements from the imprest fund were reasonable and consistent with FEC imprest fund policy.  However, effective October 1, 2001, Federal agencies are no longer required to maintain imprest funds.  Refer to page 36, which contains detailed information on the cash counts, as well as the decision to abolish the imprest funds.