This is the third update of the preliminary performance review of the Human Rights Commission originally reported in December 1995. The original performance review identified case backlog and inadequate management information as major findings. The first update to that report found the Human Rights Commission had reduced its backlog but was unable to track cases and identify its own performance because of the lack of a workable computer system. The second update found that the Commission was in full compliance with all previous recommendations, except for two, with which it was in planned compliance. This report finds that the Commission is now in full compliance with the remaining two recommendations relating to Issue Areas Two and Six in the 1995 report. This is a result of the Commission's installation of a management information system and the publication of annual reports.
The Commission currently maintains an annual budget of around $922,000. It received a supplemental appropriation of $139,500 in FY 1997 to purchase hardware and software for a new management information system.
This update finds that the Human Rights Commission followed the recommendations of the Legislative Auditor to develop an integrated management information system with the advice of the Department of Administration's Information Systems and Communications Division (IS&C). IS&C confirmed at the time of the October 1997 Update Report that the new management information system was designed to allow case tracking, networking and reporting as well as to simplify data entry and to eliminate the duplication which characterized the Human Rights Commission's previous management information system. The new system was operational by the end of 1997.
As a result of the case tracking system installed by the Commission, the Human Rights Commission knows how many cases it has, what their status is, and the number of decisions rendered without doing a hand count of case folders. Finally, the new management information system has permitted the Human Rights Commission to produce annual reports of its activities as required by statute.
Issue Area One in the November 1995 report found that the Commission had a backlog of cases that were not processed within the 365-day time frame required by Allen v. State of West Virginia Human Rights Commission. The February 1997 Update Report noted that the Commission's number of open cases fell from 1,517 to 716 during FY 1996. This number fell to 637 cases by FY 1999. The Commission has consistently maintained a much smaller case inventory than was the case at the time of the original 1995 report.
The remaining issue areas from the 1995 report have been addressed in various ways in order to bring the Commission into compliance with the report's recommendations. Issue Area Three relating to the Commission's placement under the Department of Health and Human Resources was not addressed to the agency, but rather to the Legislature. The Commission, therefore, was not required to act on the accompanying recommendation. Issue Area Four regarding the Commission's lack of an activity in promoting harmonious relations among various groups in the community was addressed by the creation of community action programs. Issue Area Five concerning the Commission's need for more secure arrangements for the storage of records was addressed by the use of locked storage containers and the erection of a security wall and door.