D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has moved in recent months to fill hundreds of seats on the city's boards and commissions, reducing a huge backlog by more than one-third even though more than 400 vacancies remain.
An analysis of public records by The Washington Examiner shows there were 468 vacancies on the District's 175 panels through mid-June. That's down from 729 available slots in March, a 36 percent reduction.
"We've added some staff, and they've done just a fantastic job of really ramping up the process," mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said. "There were a lot of folks in the pipeline."
|Picking up the pace|
|Mayor Vincent Gray issued 192 nominations to District boards and commissions in all of 2011, but his office said that figure has climbed to 314 already this year, including some reappointments.|
Some boards that languished without quorums are now fully operational. In March, more than 60 panels were either completely empty or functioning only with holdover members, but that number has since fallen by more than half, statistics show.
The D.C. Council has approved a steady stream of nominees in recent months, and lawmakers have also been reviewing dozens of nominations.
In one recent week, council committees considered 10 board picks, along with the nominations of the District's chief financial officer and the director of the Department of General Services. At a full council session the same week, legislators weighed another half-dozen selections.
"It sounds like the mayor has picked up the pace," Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells said. "I think that he's been focused on his job, and you can see that in the gains that we're starting to make."
Ribeiro said the administration may roll out plans to eliminate panels that "really don't serve any purpose" by late summer.
"We've actually been reviewing a lot of the boards and commissions," Ribeiro said. "What we want to do is begin a discussion with the council and the residents of the District to see if they see any value in those boards."
Filling board vacancies has been a persistent challenge for Gray since he became mayor. His aides have privately blamed some of the delays on former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who they say left hundreds of vacancies after voters ejected him from office.SClB