Citizen Oversight Committee Membership
The seven-member minimum requirement listed in the Education Code allows for five members from interest groups (a business person, taxpayer, senior citizen, representative from a college support organization and a student) as well as two at-large members not belonging to one of these groups. Since it is likely that some expertise that would benefit the committee in its work would be found in the at-large members, the possibility of increasing the number of members to bring a broader range of expertise should be considered. The argument that more at-large members would dilute the voices of the stipulated interest groups is true. However, that was already contemplated in the law when it stipulated that seven members is a minimum.
There are a number of specific areas of expertise that could be invited in press releases and other solicitations and should be given weight in consideration for COC membership. Some of these areas are as follows:
Citizen Oversight Committee By-Laws
The committee’s by-laws were prepared by the district and issued to the committee. The by-laws authorize facility inspections and review functions for: the audit report, deferred maintenance proposals and cost-saving measures when offered by the district. The available meeting minutes do not reflect any review of deferred maintenance and cost saving proposals.
The by-laws do not define the process to deal with concerns or
issues raised by the oversight committee itself. They do not authorize a
committee role in working with the district to establish priorities when
projects are delayed or cancelled, as suggested by the text of Measure D. In
fact, the by-laws devote twice as much space to what the committee is not
authorized to do than what they are authorized to do.
Independent Audit Report
The performance audit dated June 30, 2005 reported on some categories of projects traceable to the Master Facilities Plan and the November 3, 2003 amendment, but not on a complete specific project list that could be regularly monitored in future reports. It did not list the authorized projects for which no funds have been expended. Such listing may not be required by the law but would enhance transparency and aid the voter in understanding the status of the Measure D projects. This first audit report does not mention the total number of invoices paid with Measure D funds and the number of invoices checked and their total value. Such numbers would give a better insight to the scope of the audit and the basis for accepting the conclusions of the audit. It merely states that they found no non-compliances. Since we do not know the size of the sample and the total number of invoices, the Grand Jury does not have a basis for judging the reliability of the implied conclusion that there have been no misappropriations of funds.
The performance audit dated June 30, 2006 has similar
shortcomings. Although the inspected invoices (totaling 25% of expended funds)
are listed, the total available invoices for inspection are not listed.
Furthermore, the 25% value was not applied to each category of expenditure. All
that is certified is that they found no misappropriations in what they looked
at. We, therefore, do not have an independent auditor’s opinion that there have
been no misappropriations of funds.
Construction Quality Control and Construction Safety Programs
The Citizen Oversight Committee appears to have no role in the review of construction quality control and construction safety programs. Although such a role is not required by law, one might expect that the committee would insist on seeing program documentation to confirm that such programs are in place. Quality control problems could have a serious impact on cost and schedule. The public is reliant on the district to oversee these functions. The district contracts with contractors, the construction manager and inspector of record to assure quality and safety. However, in order to manage these areas and ensure compliance, an agreement on the definition of roles and responsibilities is critical.
The district has not fully implemented or defined an
integrated program that captures all construction activities. The design team
and the construction contractors play the key role, but the oversight function
of the district over the contractors, construction manager and the inspector of
record is critical to such projects. Many elements are in place, but there is
no single document for each of these two areas that defines the role and
responsibilities of all the parties.