CAPITOL BUILDING COMMISSION SUMMARY

The Capitol Building Commission (CBC) was created in 1976, terminated in 1986, and reestablished in 1990. The Commission is composed of five members: the Commissioner of the Division of Culture and History (chair), one architect, one engineer, and two members from the public at large. The Secretary of the Department of Administration (ex-officio) is a non-voting member. According to WV Code 4-8-1 et seq., the Capitol Building Commission has the authority to:

review and approve or reject all plans recommending substantial physical changes inside or outside the state capitol building or surrounding complex, including the public meeting rooms, hallways and grounds, which affect the appearance thereof. The approval of the commission is mandatory before any contract may be let for work which constitutes a substantial physical change, or before changes are started if the work is not done under a contract.
The CBC's function is to ensure that work performed within the Capitol Complex does not have detrimental effects on its appearance.

Issue Area 1: The Capitol Building Commission serves a needed and ongoing function.

Since the continuance of the CBC in 1990, the CBC has reviewed 66 projects. Many of these projects had significant impacts on the overall appearance of the capitol complex. The Commission provides an ongoing service. Without its service, there is the potential of contracted work within the complex to detract from the aesthetic value and the structural integrity of the capitol complex.

The occurrence of negative physical changes to the Capitol Complex that are substantial or permanent could be costly to restore, or costly with respect to the loss of historical and structural integrity. The benefit of continuing the Capitol Building Commission is more obvious when you consider the relevant cost of the Commission. The combined total cost for a CBC meeting is estimated at $1,500. Based on an average of four meetings per year, the average annual cost for the Commission is around $6,000.

There are several benefits provided by the Capitol Building Commission. First, the Commission provides an independent review of all work done to the Capitol Complex which provides some insurance that work done is structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Another benefit is that the two professionals on the Commission (an architect and an engineer) are both providing their service free of charge to the State. Finally, having citizen members on the Commission and having meetings open to the public, provides the public an active voice in changes made to the Capitol Complex. It is the opinion of the Legislative Auditor that the benefits exceed the cost of the Commission.

Issue Area 2: There are Inadequate Controls in Place to Effectively Manage the Plan Review Function of the CBC.

The WV Code 4-8-1 gives the Capitol Building Commission authority to review and approve or reject all plans that involve substantial physical changes in the Capitol Complex. Furthermore, the Commissions approval is mandatory before any contract can be let for work, or before any work can be done if the work is not under a contract. However, despite having statutory authority to review all projects, sometimes projects are implemented without CBC approval. The obvious effect is that changes could occur that have a detrimental affect on the appearance of the Capitol Complex, and could result in additional costs to undo any damage.

One cause for the lack of compliance is that some agencies do not know that projects involving major changes to the Capitol Complex require CBC approval. With changes in administrations and agency heads, the CBC should inform agencies regularly of their responsibilities. Another procedural problem is that it is not clear what types of projects are required to be reviewed by the CBC. Either the statute governing the Capitol Building Commission should be amended or the Capitol Building Commission should adopt new legislative rules to use clear definitions of important terms, as well as specific examples that illustrate the types of projects to be reviewed.

Issue Area 3: The Capitol Building Commission Needs to Improve Documentation of its Decisions.

According to procedural rules the Capitol Building Commission, should keep a journal of its final actions. In 188-1-3.10, the rules state: "All final actions of the Commission shall be journalized, and such journal shall be open to the inspection of the public at all reasonable times." One of the main purposes for having a journal is to keep the Commission accountable to the public and the Legislature as to how it arrived at its decisions. According to the current chairman of the CBC, the Commission minutes are intended to satisfy the procedural requirements for this journal. However, the minutes do not satisfactorily maintain the final actions of the Commission.

The lack of a journal or improved documentation of Commission minutes does not provide the public or the Legislature with adequate information on the final action taken by the Commission. The lack of this information does not provide an adequate account of the changes that have occurred on the Capitol Complex, and therefore it detracts from the accountability of the Commission. The Capitol Building Commission should maintain a separate journal of its actions, or improve the documentation of the minutes to clearly indicate relevant dates and other facts of the Commission's final actions.