(The Center Square) — An annual review of Louisiana’s governing boards shows a net increase of five from the prior year, as well as 14 inactive and dozens that haven’t reported any meetings since 2019.
Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued an annual report to the Legislature in October on the status of “Boards, Commissions, and Like Entities” as of June 30, 2023.
The report identifies 483 boards at the end of the last fiscal year listed on a required website under the Commissioner of Administration, with 11 boards added and six removed since 2022, resulting in a net increase of five.
The added boards include the Baker Main Street Economic Development District, Board of Directors of the Special School District, Calcasieu Ship Channel Funding Management Board, Delta Agriculture Research and Sustainability District, Delta Bike Trail Commission, Houma Restoration District, LaSalle Cultural Corridor District, Louis Armstrong Park Authority and Historic Jazz District, Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Commission, and the Plank Road Business and Economic Development Board.
Boards removed include the Calcasieu-Cameron Navigation District; Health Education Authority of Louisiana; Healthy Mom, Healthy Babies Advisory Council; Medical Education Commission; Streamlining Government Commission; and the Tioga Heritage Park and Museum Governing Board.
The LLA notes changes made during the 2023 legislative session are not included in the report.
Auditors identified 14 boards created by the Legislature before the 2022 session that are inactive, not fully organized or disbanded, including 10 that were found to be inactive last year.
“Because these Boards do not appear to be fulfilling their established functions, the Legislature should consider abolishing them or taking other actions (additional legislation, appropriations, or board appointments) to assist them in fulfilling their established function,” auditors wrote.
Reasons for the inactivity involved changes in federal or state policy, lack of funding, dissolution of participating organizations, and need of board member appointments, among others.
Another 39 boards “have not reported any meeting notices or minutes after December 31, 2019,” including nine with no board members identified, according to the report.
Two boards did not respond to the LLA’s request for personnel data and financial information: the Bi-State Corridor Commission and the El Camino East-West Corridor Commission.
Of the 483 boards listed on the website, 140 budget payments for board members per diem, salaries or travel expenses. In total, per diems for those boards cost taxpayers about $1.48 million, salaries totaled nearly $2.47 million, and travel expenses accounted for $2.26 million in 2023. However, five boards have not yet entered budget amounts for the last fiscal year.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne acknowledged the report in a letter to Waguespack on Oct. 2.
“The Division of Administration, along with representatives from the Office of Technology Services, have worked with the auditors from your office regarding the information maintained and entered into the related boards and commissions database,” Dardenne wrote.
“As noted in the report, we will continue to work with your staff to support fulfilling the needs of your office in compiling the required annual reports.”