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posted: 4/24/2012 5:30 AM

Report: DuPage election commission needs improvement

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The commission that organizes, executes and documents all of the elections within DuPage County has failed to get a vote of confidence from a consulting firm the county hired to review the agency.

In a report obtained by the Daily Herald and scheduled for release this morning, Crowe Horwath LLP concludes that the DuPage County Election Commission must make improvements to its credit card, ethics and procurement policies "to provide safeguards over county assets." For example, the consultants found the commission failed to follow its own guidelines in 12 of 13 contracts it awarded.

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DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is expected to present the report's findings during the county board meeting. Cronin, who could not be reached for comment Monday, called for the comprehensive assessment of two dozen county agencies after financial scandals involving the DuPage Housing Authority and the DuPage Water Commission.

All the boards and commissions reviewed by Crowe Horwath have individuals who are nominated by the county board chairman.

But unlike the other panels Cronin doesn't need county board approval to appoint someone to the three-person election commission, which was formed in 1974. Under state law, both political parties must be represented on the panel, but Republicans hold two of the three seats.

The consultants say the election commission serves a vital role in the federal, state and local election process for the county. DuPage is unique in Illinois with a countywide election commission.

But the commission has its own administrative responsibilities -- including finance, human resources and information technology -- that it could share with the county to save money.

The report also says the commission "needs to make significant improvements in its internal control procedures and practices."

Specifically, the commission should disclose which employees have credit cards and how they are allowed to use them. The commission's ethics policies also must be brought in line with the county's.

When it comes the commission awarding contracts, the consultants found that was "the largest area of internal control" in need of improvement. In reviewing 13 contracts, the consultants found the commission did not adhere to its own rules in 12 instances.

"Deficiencies consisted of incomplete file documentation, lack of competitive bidding, failure to disclose subcontractors, and the lack of disclosure in the contract of the nature and of the goods or services to be provide," the consultants wrote in the report.

Crowe Horwath is recommending the commission review all of its existing contracts to make sure they comply with the procurement policy and best practices.

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