According to a critic, the administration of the District of Columbia's network of 138 boards, commissions and citizen committees has improved 100 percent in the past year or so. According to one of the administrators, it has improved 1,000 percent.
Whatever the case, D.C. officials claimed this week that they have solved a part of the problem that brought acute embarrassment recently to the mayor's chief overseer of appointments to the various bodies, Martin K. Schaller.
The problem was keeping track of vacancies and appointments, and filling them in legal and timely fashion.
Schaller, who is the executive secretary of the D.C. government, acknowledged that official documents reappointing City Administrator Julian R. Dugas in 1975 as chairman of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board had been "misplaced." Therefore, Schaller said, an appointment order by the mayor was "reconstructed" at a more recent date.
Such a situation won't happen again, Schaller said, because his staff has been expanded in recent months to include four people whose sole jobs are to keep track of impending vacancies on the various boards, obtaining and screening names of potential appointees and then seeing that all paper work is correctly done.
The city's boards, commissions and committees range from such important regulatory bodies as the ABC Board, the Public Service Commission and the Parole Board to citizen groups that advise on such matters as the development of the Fort Lincoln "new town." They include professional boards that license and enforce laws dealing with such fields as cosmetology, real estate and funeral directors.
A total of 1,833 people serve on these boards when they are at full strength, according to James P. May, Schaller's assistant in charge of the appointments office. Some are salaried, some get stipends for individual meetings, and many are unpaid volunteers.
May said information about the 138 boards has been painstakingly assembled and computerized, making information on such matters as the expiration dates of members' terms available at the push of a button.
Early next month, May said, his office will announce a list of boards that are expected to have vacancies in the last six months of 1978, and will invite public applications and recommendations.
City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), probably the most persistent critic of the city's handling of appointments, said the housekeeping in such matters "has improved 100 percent" in the recent past.
"I've been a nuisance on this," Winter said. "I don't think it would have moved if I hadn't pushed."
Winter said the mayor's office and Schaller still have along way to go in spreading commission appointments throught the city's poorer, less-favored wards, purging suburbanites from memberships and insisting upon up-to-date rules of procedure and administration.
Winter said the mayor's office and Schaller still have a long way to go in spreading commission appointments through the city's poorer, less-favored wards, purging suburbanites from memberships and insisting upon up-to-date rules of procedure and administration.
Winter will preside over a public hearing March 21 on the subject of the commissions and their memberships.
Schaller, the official who made the claim of a 1,000 per cent improvement in appointments housekeeping, said steps are being taken along the lines of Winter's suggestions on appointments. No longer are suburbanites being chosen to fill commission vacancies, he said.
Vacancies on city boards often have made the operations of city agencies difficult, according to critics.
The five-member board of the Redevelopment Land Agency was short two persons for several months last year, and during the summer vacation period was unable to assemble a quorom of three to conduct business on urban renewel, officials said. During much of that time, Schaller said the name of one nominee was awaiting action by the City Council.
Similarly, the Board of Elections and Ethics - which by law is a bipartisan body - has been operating with only two members. both Democrats, since last August when the term of its lone Republican expired.
On Sept. 19, Mayor Walter E. Washington nominated James L. Denson, a Republican and executive vice president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, as a board member. Some council members voiced misgivings, since the chamber is partly financed by a $50,000 annual grant from the city and because of concern that the chamber might play a role in electoral matters supervised by the board.
This week, after receiving legal opinions from city lawyers that Denson's affiliation constitutes no legal conflict, the a unanimous vote.