Executive Summary

Issue 1: The Women's Commission Is Moving in the Direction of Developing a Unique and More Active Role in Advocating Changes to Improve the Status of Women in West Virginia.

In January 1999 the Legislative Auditor issued a preliminary performance review of the Women's Commission. The Commission was found to be ineffective in achieving significant change. The initial report recommended the discontinuance of the Women's Commission. The Legislative Auditor concluded that "...If the Legislature chooses not to terminate the Women's Commission, then the Legislature should consider giving the Women's Commission a three year continuance ... to improve its effectiveness and develop a unique (non-duplicative) and more active role in advocating for changes...." The Legislature gave the Commission a three year continuance.

This review comes two and a half years into the Commission's three year continuance. The review finds that the Women's Commission has taken seriously the recommendations of the 1999 report and is moving toward developing a unique and more active role in advocating changes. The Commission has evaluated its projects to reduce duplication and expand its audience. It has drafted original legislation to support Commission goals. This addresses a major deficiency in that the Commission did not have an adequate legislative initiative. The Commission has also obtained a $16,000 grant to augment its limited budget. Overall, the Commission is more conscious of the need to devote its limited resources to activities and issues that have limited support or that cannot be developed without the Commission's assistance, instead of areas that have widespread support and awareness. This change in approach should place the Women's Commission in a unique and leading role in women's issues.

The Legislative Auditor found that there were still areas of the Women's Commission that would benefit from development. They include developing public policy positions, website enhancement, and utilizing the media to publicize important women's issues.

Issue 2: The West Virginia Women's Commission Needs to Improve Its Compliance with the Open Meetings Law.

The Legislative Auditor found that the Women's Commission was inconsistent in noticing its meetings with the Secretary of State. This is in violation of state law and the Women's Commission procedural rule. The effect of inconsistent noticing did not appear to be significant, but potentially meeting attendance could be adversely impacted.