SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review on the Department of Public Safety, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board,
August 14, 2009

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes (sunset legislation), we have reviewed the activities of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board or the Board) to determine if there is a demonstrated public need for its continued existence and if it has been operating in an effective and efficient manner. As required by AS 44.66.050(a), this report shall be considered by the committee of reference during the legislative oversight process in determining whether the ABC Board should be reestablished. Currently, under AS 44.66.010(a)(1), the Board will terminate on June 30, 2010 and will have one year from that date to conclude its administrative operations.

The primary objective of this audit was to determine whether there is a public need for the Board and if its existence should be extended. The secondary objective was to determine if the ABC Board is serving the public interest in regards to licensing/permitting functions, administrative activities, board activities, and enforcement activities by reviewing these major functions for effectiveness and efficiency of operations.

Report Conclusions

In our opinion, the ABC Board should continue to regulate the manufacture, sale, barter, and possession of alcoholic beverages in Alaska in order to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The Board has demonstrated a need for its continued existence by providing protection to the general public through the issuance, renewal, revocation, and suspension of liquor licenses. Protection has also been provided through active investigation of suspected licensing violations and enforcement of the State’s alcoholic beverage control laws and regulations.

With the exceptions noted in the Findings and Recommendations section of this report, the ABC Board is operating in the public interest. However, improvements are needed to improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of its operations.

This is the third audit performed in the last seven years in which we have recommended a stronger internal control environment be implemented to include written policies and operating procedures, as well as a strategic plan governing enforcement activities. Although the current director has taken immediate action to make improvements to the ABC Board, we are nonetheless concerned that certain issues in the last three audits have not yet been addressed. Therefore, we recommend that AS 44.66.010(a)(1) be amended to extend the termination date of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to June 30, 2014.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The ABC Board members and director should establish quantifiable and objective enforcement goals and develop a clear plan by which they will direct its enforcement resources to most efficiently and effectively accomplish those goals in a verifiable manner.

There is no enforcement strategy to prioritize and apply resources in a cohesive fashion to enforce the alcoholic beverage laws. The agency does not know if inspecting and checking half the licenses is a good or bad outcome for their efforts, an effective or efficient use of their resources, or in the best interest of the public.

The ABC Board continues to be without a systematic strategy to ensure resources are used effectively and efficiently to enforce the alcoholic beverage laws. The ABC Board members and director should make it a priority to develop and implement goals for enforcement activities that have tangible metrics.

Recommendation No. 2

The ABC Board members and director should develop and enforce written policies and procedures to ensure the staff’s compliance with state laws and decisions made by the board and director.

There are instances of non-compliance and non-enforcement with state laws, overpayments to municipalities, possible nonpayment of fees by license holders, and incomplete and inaccurate tracking of data. The ABC Board staff’s lack oversight and accountability over their activities to ensure compliance with state laws and decisions made by the board and director.

The ABC Board members and director should ensure written policies and procedures are developed, and followed by staff to ensure compliance with state laws and directives from the board and director.