Mayor Gray seeks to abolish or consolidate 63 D.C. boards

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Photo - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The District will take the first steps on Friday toward eliminating or consolidating more than 60 boards and commissions, a proposal city officials say will amount to the most sweeping overhaul of regulatory and advisory bodies in the city's history.

Under a preliminary plan from Mayor Vincent Gray's administration obtained by The Washington Examiner, 38 panels would be abolished and another 25 could be consolidated. The city will formally issue the proposal, which will be open to public comment, on Friday.

"I think it will make the city more efficient," Gray told The Examiner. "There's been such a proliferation of boards and commissions."

Boards no more?
Mayor Vincent Gray is proposing abolishing or consolidating dozens of boards, including:
» Advisory Committee on Acupuncture
» Environmental Planning Commission
» Gas Station Advisory Board

The Examiner first reported earlier this year that Gray's administration was beginning a review of about 200 city boards to determine their effectiveness and worth, especially as some District agencies have assumed the roles of some panels.

Most of the boards Gray is seeking to eliminate are inactive and have been for years. One of the boards that would be abolished -- the D.C. Resident Council Advisory Board -- hasn't had appointments to its membership since 1994.

Other boards and commissions Gray is seeking to end are active, but lack full membership rosters.

Gray said he plans a mixture of mayoral orders and legislation, which would require D.C. Council support, to terminate the boards he's targeting.

Along with the panels Gray wants to abolish, the administration is also considering wrapping 17 boards into a single "medical practice regulation entity." Those licensing boards include those with jurisdiction over pharmacists, nurses and psychologists.

Gray is also considering a plan to consolidate eight occupational boards -- covering professions such as accounting and funeral directing -- into one panel.

The administration also said four additional panels might ultimately face mergers.

The proposal is Gray's latest effort to chip away at the enormous number of board openings he inherited when he took office in 2011. An Examiner analysis in March found the city had more than 700 vacancies, and dozens of panels were unable to function because they didn't have enough people serving on them.

This week alone, Gray said, he signed off on more than 200 nominations, some of which will require the lawmakers' approval.

Gray said he'd like to have the city review its panels every three or four years to see if they have continued merit.

"It's so easy to fall into an attitude of complacency," Gray said. "It will give us a chance to look at the most effective way to operate them."

At-large Councilman Michael Brown said Gray's plan was encouraging, but he said he wanted to ensure Gray was not seeking to slash key boards.

"I would argue against [eliminating] any having to do with housing and jobs," Brown said. "But if the intent is to make government smaller and more efficient, it sounds like it makes sense."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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