Update of the Preliminary Performance Review
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The Human Rights Commission
is in Full Compliance with
The West Virginia Human Rights Commission was created in 1961. It was transferred to the Department of Health and Human Resources in 1989. It is composed of "nine members, all residents and citizens of the state of West Virginia and broadly representative of the several racial, religious and ethnic groups residing within the state." No more than five members may be from the same political party and at least one member, but no more than three, can be from any one congressional district. Members are appointed by the Governor to three-year terms with the advice and consent of the Senate. According to WVC §5-11-4:
The commission shall encourage and endeavor to bring about mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious and ethnic groups within the state and shall strive to eliminate all discrimination in employment and places of public accommodations by virtue of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability and shall strive to eliminate all discrimination in the sale, purchase, lease, rental or financing of housing and other real property by virtue of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, blindness, disability or familial status.
Table 1 shows the Commission's budget since FY 1997. The budget has grown somewhat during this four-year period to a level of just under one million dollars for FY 2000. The table also lists the supplemental appropriation for the management information system which was purchased in response to the recommendations of Issue Area Two of the 1995 Preliminary Performance Review Report.
Human Rights Commission Total Budget
|General Revenue Appropriations||Supplemental Appropriation|
Issue Area One of 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 (see Table 2). Table 2 illustrates that the Commission has consistently maintained a much smaller case inventory than was the case at the time of the original 1995 report. In FY 1997 the number of cases filed slightly exceeded the number closed. The Commission received fewer new cases during the following two years. This allowed the number of cases closed to begin to exceed case filings. A reduction in the case inventory has resulted. The category "Cases Closed" does not include all cases investigated by the Commission during the course of a given year. In FY 2000, for example, approximately 90 more cases were processed by the Commission than were actually closed during the same period. If a case results in litigation, it may delay closure of a case, thereby accounting for the difference in the number of cases processed versus the number closed.
|FY||Cases Processed||Cases Closed||Cases Filed||Case Inventory|
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.
Issue Area 2: Lack of an Adequate Management Information System, and Failure of JALAN
The Human Rights Commission should follow both the "Short Term Recommendations" and "No. 1" under "Long Term Solutions" in the Executive Summary of IS&C's Gap Analysis (as summarized below).
1) The EEOC Information Resources Management Services indicated that they will provide training for two employees of their FilePro database (CDS) at no cost to HRC. Because the CDS must continue to be maintained, regardless of what other efforts are undertaken, this would seem to be a part of any solution. The only associated costs would be for transportation, housing, and food. The EEOC estimated that the training would take 2-5 days, and it can be scheduled any time.
2) The EEOC is also willing to produce ad hoc reports if detailed requests are made.
3) HRC needs a permanent, full-time, experienced employee whose primary responsibility is to maintain the Commission's office automation environment, including hardware, software, communications, and databases. Without this person, no new system will work.
1) The best long-term plan for HRC would appear to be phasing out the AS/400 and migrating to a PC LAN (Local Area Network) environment. An upgraded EEOC UNIX PC could be connected to the LAN for transfer of data. This would be more in sync with the long-term plans of the EEOC to migrate to a client/server Oracle platform, and it would also provide the HRC with the PC's needed to access HRIS (Human Resources Information System), the upcoming mandatory implementation of a statewide network. This plan would require an appropriation to pay off debt on the AS/400 and pay for hardware, software, and development of the new system. While the initial cost for installing a LAN would be higher than upgrading the AS/400, the long-term costs in terms of personnel and maintenance should be less. HRC does not have the alternative of phasing-in LAN, with only a few employees initially being connected to the new database; others could then be added as funding becomes available.
Level of Compliance: In Compliance
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.
Regarding the "Short Term Recommendations," the Commission withheld making arrangements for personnel to receive recommended training primarily as a cost effective measure. Instead, IS&C concurred and opted to work with EEOC and develop a data transfer system between the UNIX PC and the LAN systems that would make recommended training unnecessary. The Commission hired a full-time Information System Coordinator.
Regarding the "Long Term Solutions," the Commission received a Supplemental Appropriation of $139,500 for the purchase of hardware and software that provided for the migration to a PC LAN environment. The PC LAN system software was installed by the Information Services and Communications Division (IS&C) and was operational by the end of 1997, as was anticipated by the October 1997 Update Report. Since this system was designed, the Commission has opened branch offices in Huntington and Buchanan. The LAN was modified to incorporate the satellite offices.
The Human Rights Commission now knows how many cases it has, what their status is, and the number of decisions rendered without doing a hand count of case folders. The case tracking system used by the Commission, which was also developed by IS&C as a separate project from the LAN, cannot be used by the satellite offices because it was designed for use by the Charleston office prior to their existence. This system was installed in the Commission's central office in March 2000. The projected costs of incorporating the other offices have not been appropriated to the Commission. There are, therefore, no plans to modify the case tracking system since the Commission does not currently have the funds to purchase the additional hardware and software necessary to connect the satellite offices.
Issue Area 6: Annual Reports.
An annual report should be submitted to the Governor beginning with FY 1996-97 and continuing each year thereafter.
Level of Compliance: In Compliance
The Commission filed its latest Annual Report to the Governor in January 2000. The Commission filed an annual report for FY 1998 as part of its planned compliance with the recommendations of the October 1997 Preliminary Performance Review Update Report. Although the Commission has complied with the requirement to file annual reports, the reports lack financial information on the Commission, such as a balance sheet outlining the agency's budget. Financial information is generally included in annual reports prepared by other state agencies and would be a useful addition to future reports submitted by the Commission.