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Detailed Information on the
Federal Election Laws - Compliance and Enforcement Assessment

Program Code 10001156
Program Title Federal Election Laws - Compliance and Enforcement
Department Name Federal Election Commission
Agency/Bureau Name Federal Election Commission
Program Type(s) Regulatory-based Program
Assessment Year 2003
Assessment Rating Results Not Demonstrated
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 75%
Strategic Planning 43%
Program Management 70%
Program Results/Accountability 40%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $55
FY2008 $59
FY2009 $64

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2004

Begin evaluating the economic impact of its regulations.

No action taken
2004

Continue to improve annual performance measures and targets;

Action taken, but not completed
2004

Develop long-term performance measures and goals;

No action taken

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of closed cases with substantive action


Explanation:This measure tracks performance in closing cases with substantive action versus outright dismissals.

Year Target Actual
1999   51%
2001   62%
2002   65%
2003   79%
2004  
2005  
2006  
Annual Output

Measure: Increase total civil penalties assessed


Explanation:Egregious violations of FECA are subject to monetary penalties, which the FEC often imposes. The desired outcome is that increases in civil penalties will enhance voluntary compliance among the election community.

Year Target Actual
2000   $1.092 million
2001   $1.436 million
2002   $1.462 million
2003   $2.774 milion
2004  
2005  
2006  
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Decrease elapsed time (in days) it takes to close cases with substantive action. FY 1995-2000 vs FY 2001-2003: 20% improvement on average; 32% for median days to close substantive case.


Explanation:Measures efficiency by tracking time in with which it takes to close cases. The expected outcome is to enhance voluntary compliance by timely enforcement of the FECA. FEC measures elapsed days from a the case is initiated to closure (whether dismissed or closed with substantive action). The commission also captures average and median days elapsed. Measure is in percent improvement in shortening elapsed days, or days to close cases.

Year Target Actual
2004  
2005  
2006  
Annual

Measure: Percent of enforcement cases in active status (47% average for FYs 95-01)


Explanation:This measure tracks the percent of the caseload that is activated and actively pursued. The outcome of the use of the EPS, and the ADR and Admin Fines programs, is that OGC Enforcment resources are used to actively pursue significant cases that establish clear consequences for violtions of the FECA.

Year Target Actual
2001   52%
2002   67%
2003   65%
2004  
2005  
2006  
Annual

Measure: Increase total caseload and total cases closed


Explanation:This measure is an indicator of total FEC enforcement presence, and reflects the impact of the ADR and Admin fines programs. The expected outcome is that an enhanced enforcement presence leads to better voluntary compliance, particularly with regard to timely filing (Admin. fines.)

Year Target Actual
2000   195
2001   518
2002   229
2003   377 (est.)
2004  

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score
1.1

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is to enhance voluntary compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and promote timely disclosure of campaign finance information from federal elections. The program examines campaign finance documents and imposes monetary penalties for violations of federal laws and regulations in an effort to increase voluntary compliance.

Evidence: FEC Strategic Plan; Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 and 1974, as amended; regulations implementing FECA.

YES 25%
1.2

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Disclosure and compliance is a legal requirement under FECA and is intended to ensure integrity of the federal election campaign finance process.

Evidence: 2 U.S.C. 434

YES 25%
1.3

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The FEC is the sole authority for ensuring compliance with federal campaign finance laws and regulations.

Evidence: 2 U.S.C. 437g

YES 25%
1.4

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: Enforcement can be limited due to an even split in party affiliation among commissioners. FECA mandates that no more than 3 commissioners can come from the same party. Enforcement can be relaxed b/c of possible 3-3 votes at the commissioner level.

Evidence: 2 U.S.C. 437c

NO 0%
1.5

Is the program effectively targeted, so program resources reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation:  

Evidence:  

NA 0%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 75%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score
2.1

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: Although the FEC has two succinct strategic goals (ensure compliance with FECA and expedite disclosure of campaign finance information), it does not yet have long-term performance measures that cover a distinct period of time (see question 2.8 for planned corrective actions).

Evidence:  

NO 0%
2.2

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Since the program lacks long-term performance measures, it does not have associated targets.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
2.3

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term measures?

Explanation: Although the FEC lacks long-term performance goals, it has a limited set of annual performance goals that demonstrate progress towards achieving the commission's strategic goals. Specifically, measures of substantive case closings and civil penalties assessed attribute to the desired outcome of promoting voluntary compliance with FECA.

Evidence: FY 2004 Budget Submission

YES 14%
2.4

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets and timeframes for its annual measures?

Explanation: The FEC sets targets for its annual measures; most targets are refined on an annual basis to demonstrate improvement (see measures tab).

Evidence: FY 2004 Budget Submission

YES 14%
2.5

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation:  

Evidence:  

NA 0%
2.6

Are independent and quality evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Although the FEC has an internal Inspector General, there is no history of regular, independent evaluations of the enforcement program.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
2.7

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: There is no direct link between budgetary resources and attaining annual or long-term goals. The commission, however, is working to align its budget with its performance goals (see question 2.8).

Evidence:  

NO 0%
2.8

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The FEC is developing long-term goals that will tie directly to its annual goals. This process also will entail linking budget resources with performance targets.

Evidence:  

YES 14%
2.RG1

Are all regulations issued by the program/agency necessary to meet the stated goals of the program, and do all regulations clearly indicate how the rules contribute to achievement of the goals?

Explanation:  

Evidence:  

NA  %
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 43%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score
3.1

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: The Enforcement Priority System (EPS) targets resources to the most significant cases and provides real-time information on case status and statistics. The Case Management System (CMS) allows the FEC to better manage case load and assists in targeting cases by issue to build case law (see question 3.4 for further discussion).

Evidence:  

YES 10%
3.2

Are Federal managers and program partners (grantees, subgrantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: The commission monitors and reports program costs across the organization, but performance evaluations of managers are not linked to program performance goals.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
3.3

Are all funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: All funds are obligated in support of FEC mission and program objectives. There is no history of Anti-Deficiency Act violations.

Evidence: Statements of budget execution

YES 10%
3.4

Does the program have procedures (e.g., competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, approporaite incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: CMS tracks number of cases active, dismissed, closed with substantive action, length of time in which a case is open, and case-closing costs. The implementation of EPS, a system that uses a triage process to assign casework, has also resulted in efficiencies.

Evidence:  

YES 10%
3.5

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation:  

Evidence:  

NA 0%
3.6

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: OMB exempted the commission from its FY 2003 financial audit requirement. However, the FEC will have audited financial statements for FY 2004.

Evidence:  

NO 0%
3.7

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: The FEC is instituting a new budget system that will better track program costs across organizational lines and will audit its financial statements in FY 2004.

Evidence:  

YES 10%
3.RG1

Did the program seek and take into account the views of all affected parties (e.g., consumers; large and small businesses; State, local and tribal governments; beneficiaries; and the general public) when developing significant regulations?

Explanation: Most recently, the FEC held public hearings and meetings on Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) regulations. The public was further engaged when interim rules were published for comment.

Evidence: Public hearings and meetings; FEC website includes interim and final regulations

YES 10%
3.RG2

Did the program prepare adequate regulatory impact analyses if required by Executive Order 12866, regulatory flexibility analyses if required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act and SBREFA, and cost-benefit analyses if required under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act; and did those analyses comply with OMB guidelines?

Explanation: As an independent agency, the FEC is not required to prepare regulatory impact analyses required by Executive Order 12866. However, commission rulemaking must adhere to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Although the FEC certifies its regulations "do not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities," the program lacks thorough evidence that economic analyses are conducted.

Evidence: FEC website and Federal Register publications

NO 0%
3.RG3

Does the program systematically review its current regulations to ensure consistency among all regulations in accomplishing program goals?

Explanation: The FEC's Office of General Counsel regularly reviews current regulations for necessary revisions and changes.

Evidence: FEC website provides an extensive list of new and revised regulations; 11 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations)

YES 10%
3.RG4

Are the regulations designed to achieve program goals, to the extent practicable, by maximizing the net benefits of its regulatory activity?

Explanation: The FEC allows alternative methods for complying with reporting requirements, including electronic and paper means. Therefore, the regulated community can chose the most cost effective method for filing reports.

Evidence: House campaign filings are traditionally submitted via electronic means and Senate reports tend to be filed in paper form.

YES 10%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 70%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score
4.1

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term outcome performance goals?

Explanation: Since the program lacks long-term performance measures and targets it can not demonstrate that it has achieved results (see questions 2.1 and 2.2).

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.2

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: The FEC annually meets its goals for substantive case closings and civil penalties assessed, which promote the desired outcome of enhancing voluntary compliance (see measures tab).

Evidence: FEC 2004 Budget Submission

YES 20%
4.3

Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program performance goals each year?

Explanation: The Case Management System tracks number of cases active, dismissed, closed with substantive action, length of time in which a case is open, and case-closing costs. In addition, the Enforcement Priority System uses a triage process to assign casework. Both IT systems have helped the commission achieve efficiencies (as seen with increases in closed cases) although the savings are unquantifiable (see question 3.4).

Evidence: FY 2004 Budget Submission and related performance measures; CMS and EPS (internal databases)

YES 20%
4.4

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., that have similar purpose and goals?

Explanation:  

Evidence:  

NA 0%
4.5

Do independent and quality evaluations of this program indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: The enforcement program at the FEC has not been subject to independent reviews (see question 2.6).

Evidence:  

NO 0%
4.RG1

Were programmatic goals (and benefits) achieved at the least incremental societal cost and did the program maximize net benefits?

Explanation: FEC rulemaking must adhere to the Regulatory Flexibility Actand the commission certifies its regulations "do not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities." However, the program lacks evidence that economic analyses are conducted (see question 3.RG2).

Evidence:  

NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 40%


Last updated: 09062008.2003SPR