SUMMARY OF:A Special Review of the Department of Fish and Game, Board of Game Regulatory Process

Why DLA Performed This Audit

The audit was requested to address concerns about the Board of Game’s (BOG) regulatory outcomes and decision process. The audit evaluated whether the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), BOG, and Advisory Committees (AC) followed established procedures and whether BOG decisions were made in compliance with State law. The audit also determined the extent DFG complied with legislative intent by making comments, reports, data, and recommendations available prior to a BOG meeting and prior to ACs’ consideration of proposals. Further, the audit determined the degree to which AC regulatory recommendations agreed with DFG recommendations and the degree to which BOG decisions were upheld by the courts. Satisfaction with, and knowledge of, the BOG regulatory process was evaluated by surveying AC and BOG members.

Report Conclusions

The audit concluded that BOG, ACs, and DFG followed established procedures and complied with State laws governing the regulatory process. AC member survey respondents generally believed BOG’s decision making process was effective, but were less satisfied with the transparency, objectivity, and thoroughness of BOG deliberations. The audit found AC meetings were consistently conducted in accordance with laws and procedures, except for public noticing. (Recommendation No. 1) Over a ten year period, few BOG regulatory decisions were challenged in court. The courts upheld the majority of board decisions.

The audit also concluded that DFG comments, reports, data, and recommendations were not routinely made available to ACs via BOG’s website at the time ACs considered proposals; however, a biologist was generally in attendance at AC meetings. Auditors noted that information on BOG’s website may be updated without clearly identifying the update. (Recommendation 2) For most of the recommendations reviewed by auditors, ACs agreed with DFG recommendations. Philosophical differences between DFG staff and AC members may lead to different proposal recommendations regardless of the availability of DFG information.

Findings and Recommendations

  1. BOG’s executive director should update the AC manual to define “reasonable public notice” and provide training to AC members.
  2. BOG’s executive director should ensure information updates are clearly identified on BOG’s website.