The outgoing director of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics outlined in further detail yesterday what he said was a pattern of "incompetence" at the election board office, which he blamed for the repeated foul-ups in city elections over the last four years.
"People . . . hired to be competent were incompetent and other people . . . were just not properly trained," said Teddy Filosofos, who is resigning effective tomorrow after five months on the job.
At a hearing before a D.C. City Council committee and in a subsequent interview, Filosofos cited numerous examples of "incompetence" by the election office, including:
* The board bought a $300,000 computer system in 1979, capable of straightening out most of the problems with the city's tangled voter rolls, but did not operate the system for that purpose for about three years because "nobody knew how to use it."
* The employes responsible for updating the city's voter rolls either never bothered to enter new information into the one computer system they did use, or did not double-check to ensure that new information had been entered correctly. As a result the city did not have an accurate listing of voters, a major factor in the erroneous disqualification of hundereds of voters in the Sept. 14 primary election.
* The board paid a private consultant $1,000 a week in the last year to write a report on what was wrong with the board's record-keeping, even though the city auditor, a City Council task force and the General Accounting Office were simultaneously working on similar reports. Filosofos said the consultant stayed on the board's payroll for two months after the report was completed "and wasn't doing a thing."
Filosofos said he has since fired the consultant and two people who were responsible for entering voter information into the computer system that the board did use. He said that the $300,000 computer system is now in full operation, with properly trained people using it, and that this system will eliminate the wide margin for error that previously existed.
Filosofos told the committee that election board procedures should now be improved enough to avoid the same problems in the Nov. 2 general election that occurred in the primary, when thousands of properly registered voters were forced to cast challenged ballots because their names did not appear on the voter rolls.
Election board chairman Albert J. Beveridge III said in an interview yesterday that he agreed with Filosofos' assessment of the competence of the election board staff. He said that Filosofos walked into "complete chaos" when he came here from Buffalo last May, and that much of the problem was directly related to "sloppy" work on the part of board employes.
Beveridge acknowledged that Filosofos' statements reflected adversely on the three-member election board itself. But, he said, the board realized that it had "serious problems in management and data processing" and had been looking to Filosofos to solve them.
"We are sorry to see Mr. Filosofos go before he had done so," he said.
Beveridge said that the board, which is appointed by the mayor, has always found it difficult to find competent employes to work in data processing. He said that as a matter of policy the board hires and fires only its executive director and general counsel, but that it "probably should have done more" to remove staff employes whose work was found to be unsatisfactory.
Because of the cumbersome D.C. government personnel procedures, "the board is reluctant to clean house as it should," Beveridge said.
Beveridge said the $1,000-a-week private consultant was hired by a former staff official without the authorization of the board, but Beveridge also acknowledged that the board never did anything about the consultant once it found out that he had been hired.
The consultant could not be reached for comment.
Beveridge said the board did not convert earlier from the problem-plagued computer system it was using to the $300,000 computer system because the City Council task force, the General Accounting Office and the D.C. auditor recommended that the board try first to clear up the problems with the existing system.
Filosofos gave his final status report yesterday on the Sept. 14 primary to the City Council's government operations committee, which was conducting a one-day public hearing for an update on the election board's work. Filosofos was the only person to testify before the committee.
Filosofos announced last week that he was resigning because of what he said was political interference in his handling of the primary. Filosofos estimated that it would take at least another 18 months of work to correct all of the administrative and personnel problems at the board.