The Connecticut Department of Agriculture didn’t post required notices for over 100 meetings of its boards and commissions in the last four years, a state audit report found.
From Dec. 13, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2023, state auditors found that the department did not post any meeting notices to the Secretary of the State’s public meeting calendar, as required by law.
Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Rebecca Eddy said the department has posted all meetings properly since Jan. 1
Auditors also couldn’t find meeting minutes posted for five of its different boards, councils and working groups, and were not clear if those groups, set up by state law, had been meeting for several years. The Connecticut Seafood Development Council last posted minutes for a meeting on Jan. 19, 2017, and the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development last posted minutes are from a Jan. 23, 2019, meeting.
Eddy said those groups have all been inactive, but the latter two were reconstituted by lawmakers in 2021. The department is working to get members appointed to those councils.
The audit report, released Thursday, said the Department of Agriculture should work with its boards to ensure they’re complying with Freedom of Information Act requirements for posting meeting notices to its website and the Secretary of the State’s meeting calendar.
“If the department determines that related statutes are impractical or outdated, it should request legislative changes,” the audit stated.
State auditor John Geragosian said if any of the boards that have not posted minutes in several years are inactive or duplicate the work of other boards, the department should ask the state legislature to get rid of them.
In its response to the audit report, the department said it supports the auditors’ recommendation and that it will “take steps to ensure we have the administrative capabilities to meet these requirements.”
Of the 10 boards, councils and working groups that have posted notice to the Secretary of the State’s calendar, only 30 of 147 meetings were listed, auditors found. And many of those meetings were not listed on the department’s website.
Three working groups had no meetings listed on the Secretary of the State’s website, including the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in Connecticut Agriculture Working Group, which met 39 times in 2021 and 2022.
Auditors blamed a “lack of administrative oversight,” and said the missing notices and minutes meant the public could not follow their activities.