The number of Louisiana boards, commissions and other similar entities has grown by 45 percent in the past two decades, according to a new legislative auditor’s report.
The increase continued despite a legislative effort that has eliminated dozens of state-created boards in recent years.
“That is shocking to me. Do we need them? Are they effective?” said state Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales, who sponsored a bill in this year’s legislative session eliminating eight groups.
Berthelot said he will take a cue from recommendations in the auditor’s report to sponsor legislation next year to scrap others.
State law requires the auditor’s office to submit an annual report to the Legislature to assist in controlling the growth and costs of state boards, commissions and local entities created by state law.
The 2012 report shows that there are 492 government-created entities, up from 338 in 1992.
At least five of the groups created during 2010 or earlier have never been fully organized or are not functioning and should be considered by the Legislature and/or Governor’s Office for elimination, the report from Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office found.
The five are Drug Free Schools and Communities, an arm of a governor’s advisory council; the Concordia Parish Port Commission; the Vidalia Port Commission; the Post Employment Benefits Trust Fund; and the North Bossier Levee and Drainage District Board of Commissioners.
The auditor’s report notes the growth in boards, commissions and other groups since 1992. Their number hit a high of 513 in 2004.
Since the 2011 report, six entities have been created and six either repealed by law or terminated in accordance with law or executive order, leaving the number at 492.
The numbers remain high in spite of annual efforts led in the past by former state Rep. Mert Smiley, R-St. Amant, and now Berthelot that led to scrapping of nonfunctioning entities.
The auditor also reported that 44 groups did not provide requested information required by state law.
Among the groups are the Interstate 10/12 Corridor Commission, the Interstate 49 North Extension Feasibility and Funding Task Force, the Interstate 49 South Feasibility and Funding Task Force, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission, the Medicaid Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee, the Naval War Memorial Commissioners, the Poverty Point Reservoir District Board of Commissioners and municipal employee, municipal police, registrar of voters’ employee and sheriffs’ pension fund boards.
The auditor’s office reported that of the 433 groups that did respond to its request for information, 277 pay per diem, salaries and or travel of board members.
The report also shows that spending in each area is increasing.
The entities’ budgets show $1.48 million allocated for per diem payments in 2012 — up from $1.08 million actually spent in 2011; $2.72 million budgeted for board member salaries — up from $1.56 million actually spent the prior year; and $2.29 million on board member travel compared with $2.11 million spent the prior year.