Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director

(510) 205-8042

 

Little Hoover Commission Urges California to Help Victims and Bring Labor Traffickers to Justice

 

Each year thousands of Californians fall prey to human trafficking, including hundreds who are exploited for the value of their labor, and California must do more to help these survivors and to bring traffickers to justice, says the state’s independent government watchdog.

The Little Hoover Commission today released Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Help Victims and Bring Traffickers to Justice, the agency’s third and final report stemming from a year-long investigation into the state’s response to labor trafficking.

The report provides new data about the extent of the problem, based on an analysis of records from a key state program that provides help to trafficking victims. That analysis shows that:

  • Between 2016 and 2019, more than 14,000 human trafficking survivors received help from the state, including more than 3,000 who were classified as being exploited for their labor. (The remainder were exploited for sex.)

  • More than one-quarter of the survivors helped by the state were under 18.

  • African-Americans were disproportionately impacted, accounting for more than a third of those who received help.

  • Those seeking help for labor trafficking are disproportionately located in the Central Valley.

“Too little has been known about labor trafficking in the past, and we hope that this report provides policymakers with new information about this horrific crime,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “Still better information can lead to a stronger response and more work is needed to understand the prevalence of this crime.”

The report analyzes raw data from only a single state program, Nava noted, and thus it is highly likely that far more people are victimized each year by traffickers. This is especially true for labor trafficking, which is often even harder to detect than trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation.

The data analyzed by Commission staff comes from the Office of Emergency Services’ Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program. The Commission is grateful to OES for providing the raw data, which did not identify individual survivors, but allowed for an analysis of all those helped by the program, Nava said.

“This is a significant first step to understanding more about who the victims of trafficking are and how we can better direct resources to serve and protect them,” said Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, chair of the Commission’s subcommittee for the labor trafficking studies.

While causing serious harm to victims, perpetrators of this crime also steal from the state and undercut legitimate businesses. The report urges a strong state response, recommending that policymakers prioritize victim services for survivors while increasing investigations and prosecutions of traffickers.

In its report, the Commission also focuses on the numerous barriers hindering the enforcement of labor trafficking laws, including costly and time-consuming investigations, difficulty proving non-physical coercion or force, lack of adequate training for law enforcement and court personnel, and more. The report describes steps taken by the federal government, other states, and some California counties to address these barriers and calls upon state officials to take similar actions.  

“It is unacceptable that perpetrators of this despicable crime are too often not held accountable,” Nava said. “Our recommendations will transform California’s ability to bring these evildoers to justice and ensure that survivors receive the care they need.”

All too often, law enforcement lacks the tools, training, and resources to respond to labor trafficking, the Commission found.

Earlier this year the Commission released two reports about trafficking. This is the Commission’s third report studying California’s response to human trafficking. Its first report on the subject, released in June 2020, calls for the creation of a statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Council. Its second report, released in September 2020, implores officials to increase efforts to identify labor trafficking.

Commissioner Dion Aroner, a member of the study’s subcommittee, noted the importance of viewing this report along with the Commission’s two previous reports on labor trafficking. “We are providing state officials with a comprehensive roadmap for lasting change that will enable California to more effectively combat labor trafficking and protect innocent workers.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Increase Efforts to Identify Labor Trafficking, Little Hoover Commission Says

 
California must improve and expand efforts to identify labor trafficking, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report.
 
In Labor Trafficking: Strategies to Uncover this Hidden Crime, the Little Hoover Commission calls for increased efforts to identify labor trafficking through better training, data collection, and public awareness. This is the Commission’s second report studying California’s response to human trafficking and builds upon the recommendation from its first report on the topic, released in June 2020, to create a statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Council.
 
“Too often, this heinous crime goes undetected, and those who have been preyed upon have nowhere to turn,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “This horrible crime demands an aggressive response, and our recommendations will help California do just that.”
 
Labor trafficking occurs when employers use force, fraud or coercion to exert a level of control over workers that leaves them trapped in oppressive situations. It can occur in a variety of workplaces, including restaurants, construction sites, farm fields, and households, and is often very difficult to detect. Widespread unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to the conditions necessary for labor trafficking to flourish.
 
The Commission’s report focuses on the obstacles that make it difficult to identify labor trafficking, including a lack of enforcement of anti-trafficking laws and a lack of familiarity about the issue among government officials and the public. The report also notes that the state’s primary focus has been on combatting sex trafficking, a focus that must continue but be expanded to include labor trafficking as well. 
 
“We need to know where labor trafficking is occurring in California and who is being affected so we can direct resources to help victims and bring traffickers to justice,” explained Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, chair of the Commission’s subcommittee for the labor trafficking studies. “More information will mean a stronger state response.”
 
The report also notes the strides taken by state officials to combat and deter child sex trafficking and calls for similar investment in protections for child victims of labor trafficking.
 
“It is crucial that all children are protected,” said Commissioner Dion Aroner, a member of the study’s subcommittee. “Nothing is more important than ensuring that California’s youngest and most vulnerable residents do not fall prey to the evil of human trafficking.”
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
 
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042
 

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Stronger Effort against Labor Trafficking

California must better coordinate efforts to identify victims and help survivors of labor trafficking, California’s independent government watchdog urges in a new report.
 
“Human Trafficking: Coordinating a California Response,” a new report from the Little Hoover Commission, calls for the creation of the California Anti-Human Trafficking Council within the Governor’s office. The Council would be tasked with studying the prevalence of labor trafficking, coordinating efforts to fight the crime, and assessing the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts.
 
“This is a critical first step in understanding more about this extraordinarily serious crime and strengthening California’s response,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava.
 
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that involves depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to obtain forced labor or sex. Researchers typically divide human trafficking into cases of sex trafficking or labor trafficking or both. The new report focuses on the state’s response to labor trafficking, as opposed to cases that principally involve sex trafficking.
 
In its report, the Commission examines California’s response to trafficking and highlights the lack of data about the crime. The Commission also provides guidance that would enhance the state’s understanding of trafficking and our ability to fight it.
 
“California is one of the top destination states for human trafficking,” said Commissioner Cynthia Buiza, who chairs the Commission’s subcommittee on the state’s response to human trafficking. “The state can and must do more to respond.”
 
Commissioner Dion Aroner, who also served on the labor trafficking subcommittee, noted that the Council will also assess future needs.
 
“We need to know what resources are being devoted to this fight now, and we need an assessment of the resources that might be needed in the future,” Aroner said. Nava, Buiza and Aroner wrote about the report in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
 
About the Little Hoover Commission
 
The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Little Hoover Commission to Study the Long-Term Economic Impact of COVID-19

 

The Little Hoover Commission – America’s only permanent, independent citizens commission working to improve state government – will hold a series of hearings this summer to examine California’s long-term economic and fiscal challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearings will focus on identifying likely changes, their effect on state government, and how state government can best respond to support those who are impacted.

The first of three hearings will be held on Thursday, June 25, and will seek to address how the pandemic and the resulting economic dislocation will alter California’s economy over the next two to five years. The Commission will assess the potential “new normal” of work and take a look at how both businesses and individuals are economically impacted. The second and third hearings, which will focus on the fiscal impact on state government and the changes in state government organization and policy that are needed in response, will be held throughout the month of July.

All three hearings will be held by Zoom, and will be accessible from the events page on our website: www.lhc.ca.gov/events. Additional information, including witness lists, will be released later.

“The impact of the pandemic is a critical issue facing our state,” said Pedro Nava, Chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “We look forward to providing a platform for robust conversations that will contribute to long-term planning as the state looks to address the lasting economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It is comprised of 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Make sure to sign-up for our e-newsletter to receive future updates regarding our COVID-19 hearings and other efforts. You can also stay up-to-date with the Commission by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick
Executive Director
510-205-8042

 

Improve Payments to Domestic Violence Programs, Little Hoover Commission Urges

 

Organizations providing shelter and other services to survivors of intimate partner violence should receive their state funding in an up-front payment at the start of their grant, rather than having to wait months to have the money reimbursed later, California’s independent government watchdog recommended.

In a new report, “Intimate Partner Violence: Getting the Money to Those on the Front Line,” the Little Hoover Commission urged state policymakers to reform the state’s key anti-domestic violence program so that the state portion of funding is paid immediately. The full report is available on the Commission’s website at lhc.ca.gov.

“Currently, some providers take out a loan while they wait to have their expenses reimbursed by the state,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “That makes no sense. The state’s policymakers can make changes to fix this problem.”

Intimate partner violence, also referred to as domestic violence, has a tragic impact on California. It is the leading cause of homicide of women, and one third of California women and one quarter of men will experience intimate partner violence and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetimes, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. California law enforcement agencies field an average of 457 domestic violence calls each day.

Sadly, early evidence suggests that domestic violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shelters around the state have reported an increase in calls following the shelter-at-home orders. Shelters remain open and those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, should call 1-800-799-SAFE.

The Commission’s report focuses on the Domestic Violence Assistance Program, which currently provides funding from both state and federal sources to approximately 100 organizations around California that provide services to survivors of intimate partner violence. The recipient organizations are funded equally, with each receiving about $500,000 per year – about $200,000 in state funding and the rest in federal funding.

Currently, the program’s recipients typically receive their grants as reimbursements for past expenses, although they may request to receive an advance payment of up to 25 percent of the state-funded portion of their grant, a limit set by state law.

At an October public hearing before the Commission and a January meeting of the Commission’s Advisory Committee on intimate partner violence, service providers described long waits for their reimbursements, and the Commission’s examination of the process found that reimbursements typically take 79 days at best, and sometimes even longer. In some cases, providers have taken out loans to stay afloat until the reimbursement is received.

In its report, the Commission recommended that the Legislature provide for a full advance payment of state funds received through the program.

“These organizations are doing extraordinary work under grueling and stressful conditions,” said Commissioner Janna Sidley, who chairs the Commission’s subcommittee on the state’s response to intimate partner violence. “The state should do everything possible to ease their financial situation and their paperwork burden. The answer is simple: Get the money out the door and into the hands of people who are doing such important work.”

The report noted that even with an advance payment of state funding, grant recipients would still face reporting and auditing requirements that the Commission believes are adequate to prevent fraud.

The state cannot change federal policy that requires a reimbursement model, and the Commission’s report does not address the federal requirement.

The Little Hoover Commission is California’s independent government watchdog, charged with recommending reforms that will improve efficiency or service in state government. The panel includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders – nine public members and four sitting members of the Legislature. No party may hold more than five of the public seats or two of the legislative seats, ensuring that the Commission’s recommendations reflect a variety of partisan viewpoints.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2020
 
For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(510) 205-8042

 

Commission Applauds Appointment of Dedicated State GIO

 

Pedro Nava, Chair of California’s Little Hoover Commission, issued the following statement Tuesday on the appointment of Carlos Isaac Cabrera as the new State Geographic Information Officer (GIO) in the California Department of Technology, responsible for managing data and geospatial services.

“We congratulate the administration on filling this important appointment. It could not be more timely, as GIS has proven itself a powerful tool for state leaders, particularly in the past weeks and months in tracking the daily impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our state. This appointment marks an important first step toward implementing the vision of a strong, centralized, coordinated approach to GIS across state government, as detailed in the Commission’s 2019 report, Mapping a Strategy for GIS.

“The Commission found an absence of statewide GIS leadership and coordination, in part because the State GIO simultaneously served as the State Chief Technology Innovation Officer. We called for a dedicated, full-time GIO position, and we’re pleased to see Mr. Cabrera’s appointment. Though we hope to see the position elevated as outlined in our report, we are encouraged by this action and wish Mr. Cabrera the best as he steps into this critical role. We continue to support pending legislation, introduced by Assemblymember and Commissioner Chad Mayes, that would establish a GIS Advisory Council and a California Geographic Information Office within the Department of Technology, led by a Geographic Information Officer appointed by the Governor.

“The Commission also called for an increase in the state’s capacity to employ GIS to assess where state spending occurs, how the delivery of services varies geographically, and how policy outcomes vary by region. Achieving this, the Commission said, would require the state designate and empower a full-time, dedicated State GIO to serve as California’s GIS leader, responsible for coordinating the state’s GIS projects, promulgating standards for data collection and sharing, and managing shared data resources.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state operations and promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Little Hoover Commission Re-Elects Chair Nava and Vice Chair Varner

 

The Little Hoover Commission unanimously re-elected Commissioner Pedro Nava as Chair and Commissioner Sean Varner as Vice Chair on Thursday, March 26, 2020. This will be Nava’s seventh consecutive term as Chair and Varner’s fourth consecutive term as Vice Chair.

Nava, a former Assemblymember and prosecutor, served on the Commission from 2005 to 2010 when he was a legislator, and later was appointed as a public member by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez in 2013 and reappointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in 2017.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue serving as Chair of the Little Hoover Commission,” said Nava. “I want to thank my fellow Commissioners for their support and I look forward to continue fulfilling the Commission’s mission to make our state government work better for all Californians.”

Varner is managing partner at Varner & Brandt LLP, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, finance, real estate, and general counsel work. He was appointed to the Commission in 2016 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

“It has been an extraordinary experience serving on the Commission and I want to express my gratitude to the Commission for the ability to continue serving as Vice Chair,” Varner said. “I am eager to build on my experience and work with other Commissioners to further our efforts and ensure that state government is effectively and efficiently serving the public.”

The Commission is charged with researching public policy issues and making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature about how state government can be made more efficient and effective. In recent years, the Commission has reviewed and made recommendations on a wide variety of study areas,  including the management of California’s forests, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Geographic Information Systems in government, the Mental Health Services Act, the underground economy, open-meeting laws, Denti-Cal,  the management of special districts, the use of mandatory overtime, and the veterans homes program.

The Commission has studies underway now on the state’s response to intimate partner violence and human trafficking for purposes of labor exploitation, and is engaged in preliminary research on the state’s system of recycling organic waste and the interrelated issues of housing affordability and regional economic development. The Commission held a teleconference meeting Thursday to discuss current business and to conduct elections of the chair and vice chair. Terms of the officers are for one year.

Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas. After leaving the Legislature, Nava served as a government relations advisor. In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision. Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission. While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission.

Varner has over 25 years of legal and business experience, handling critical transactions facing a diverse clientele including Fortune 500 companies, the food and beverage industry, the manufacturing industry, the service industry, the technology sector, entertainment and social media, real estate development and land use, restaurant, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, officers and directors of corporations, and a variety of family-owned businesses. He has also represented oversight boards in the winding down of redevelopment agencies, including the City of Los Angeles and the City of Industry. Among many civic commitments, he has served as Chair of the board of the directors of The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, as two-time Chairman of the California Inland Empire Chapter of the Young President’s Organization, and as a member of the UC-Riverside Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

 

 

Commentary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Little Hoover Commission Provides Roadmap For Governor Newsom's Mental Health Care System Overhaul
 

In a CalMatters commentary, Chairman Pedro Nava explains how the Little Hoover Commission's previous recommendations on Proposition 63 reform provide a roadmap for Governor Gavin Newsom's goal of improving California's mental health care programs. Chairman Nava's commentary is available on the CalMatters website. For more information on the Commission's mental health care reform recommendations, take a look at our previous reports Promises Still to Keep: A Decade of the Mental Health Services Act and Promises Still to Keep: A Second Look at the Mental Health Services Act.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2020

For Additional Information Contact:
Ethan Rarick, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

 

Governor Newsom Reappoints Janna Sidley to the Little Hoover Commission

Governor Newsom has reappointed Janna Sidley to the Little Hoover Commission for an additional four-year term. Sidley, of Los Angeles, was originally appointed to the Commission in 2016 by Governor Brown. She is currently the Subcommittee Chair on the Commission’s Intimate Partner Violence study.

Sidley serves as General Counsel for the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest port complex, where she oversees and manages all legal services for the port, ensuring compliance with transportation, infrastructure, environmental, real estate, municipal, and employment laws. Sidley’s career of public service includes serving as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Director of the Violence Against Women Office at the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Director of the Office of Press Advance at the White House, and a special assistant in the Office of the Deputy Secretary as well as a special assistant for congressional and legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Sidley earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“Since she joined the Commission in 2016, Commissioner Sidley has been a mainstay of our efforts to improve the functioning of state government,” said Commission Chair Pedro Nava. “She brings to the Commission her broad experience in the public sector, her keen analytical abilities, and a deep commitment to the mission of the Little Hoover Commission. We are grateful for her service, and grateful to Governor Newsom for her reappointment.”

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for this reappointment,” said Commissioner Sidley. “I have greatly enjoyed serving on the Commission, and look forward to continuing our work to improve state government.”

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962. It includes 13 Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members, appointed by the Governor and legislative leadership. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations, and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy, and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2019

For Additional Information Contact:
Tamar Foster, Project Manager
(916) 445-2125

Little Hoover Commission Names Ethan Rarick New Executive Director

The Little Hoover Commission announced Ethan Rarick has been named Executive Director of the bipartisan, independent state oversight agency. He will join the Commission on June 10, 2019. He succeeds the late Carole D’Elia, who held the post for four years following a long tenure with the Commission.

Mr. Rarick brings with him extensive public policy experience that aligns with the values of the Little Hoover Commission. Since 2015, he has served as associate director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley – the oldest public policy center in California. Additionally, Mr. Rarick has served as the founding director of the Institute’s Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service since 2008. He first joined the Institute in 2005, serving as both director of publications and director of the Center on Politics.

Prior to his service with U.C. Berkeley, Mr. Rarick had an extensive career as a journalist, working for the Associated Press, Contra Costa Times.

“We’re all very excited that Mr. Rarick will be joining us,” Commission Chairman Pedro Nava said. “Commissioners and staff collaborated in identifying the characteristics and qualities necessary for the position. Mr. Rarick impressed us with his experience, vision and temperament, all critical skills for successful leadership of the Commission.”

About the Little Hoover Commission

The Little Hoover Commission, created in 1962, comprises 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members. Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2019

For Additional Information Contact:
Tamar Foster, Project Manager
(916) 445-2125

 

Commission Urges State to Proactively Strengthen the Security of California's Voting Equipment

The Little Hoover Commission sent a letter to the Governor and Legislature, available here, on Monday, March 4, 2019, calling upon lawmakers to fortify the state’s approach to voting equipment security.

During the course of its study, the Commission learned of many actions California takes to secure its elections, including implementing rigorous certification standards, requiring a paper trail for every vote cast, and recently establishing an Office of Cybersecurity to keep up with evolving security threats.

The Commission found, however, there are bigger, more aggressive steps the state could take in securing its voting equipment. “In this era when foreign interference, human error, and machine malfunctions dominate headlines, it’s more important than ever to remember the adage that security is a process, not a product,” said Little Hoover Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. “Though the state takes a number of important security measures, it must be more ambitious in making sure every Californian’s vote counts.”

The Commission identified the following key issues that policymakers must consider when securing the state’s voting equipment:

  • California must ensure every county’s voting equipment is as secure as possible, but the Commission found old and outdated voting equipment threatens election integrity.
  • California must prove to voters that the election results are legitimate, but more work is needed to better implement safeguards to catch and correct intentional or accidental discrepancies between how Californians voted and reported winners.
  • California’s “bottom-up” election system is valued for its ability to adapt to local needs, but the state lacks statewide goals for election system innovation.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action. The letter report is available at www.lhc.ca.gov.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 7, 2019


    For Additional Information Contact:
    Tamar Foster, Project Manager
    (916) 445-2125

    Commission Releases its Biennial Review of California State Government Operations

    On Thursday, February 7, 2019, the Little Hoover Commission released the 2017-2018 edition of its biennial Economy and Efficiency Report.

    Inside the report you will find a synopsis of our oversight work and accomplishments during the past two years, and our list of top opportunities for government reform derived from the Commission’s body of work.

    You also will briefly learn about our purpose and responsibilities, study process and the role we play within the Capitol community - recommending improvements to state operations, writing bill support letters, testifying in support of legislation that implements our recommendations and taking requests from the Legislature and Governor for detailed reviews of government performance. You also will meet our 11 appointed Commissioners who bring a wide variety of professional, business and civic perspectives to these reviews.

    California Could Be Left Behind

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 27, 2018


    For Additional Information Contact:
    Tamar Foster, Project Manager
    (916) 445-2125

    Little Hoover Commission Issues a Roadmap for Developing Robust California Policies on Artificial Intelligence

    Today, the Little Hoover Commission issued Artificial Intelligence: A Roadmap for California. A competitive race is underway to develop and use AI technologies, which could increase the global economy by $13 trillion dollars.

    Commission Chair Pedro Nava said, “Between now and 2030, AI technologies could have an economic impact in California of well more than $400 billion and anywhere from 1 to 11 million California jobs could be effected. Yet, California, the 5th largest economy in the world, bigger than the United Kingdom, India and France, isn’t truly engaged in the race to harness the opportunities of AI. France, Switzerland, Japan and even other U.S. states, like Indiana, Massachusetts and Vermont, have begun AI initiatives that exceed what our state has done. California can ill afford to be flatfooted in a global contest that may well define our future for the better or, if we are not prudent, perhaps the worse.”

    The report urges policymakers to adopt an agenda that revolves around public engagement, building a human infrastructure, attacking pressing social needs, and protecting core values—autonomy, responsibility, privacy, transparency and accountability. The report also offers lawmakers a high-level plan with wide ranging recommendations, including: 
     

    • Building a state government infrastructure for the development and use of AI that promotes economic, social and environmental good;
    • Ensuring AI education in California schools and institutions of higher education;
    • Improving the state’s collection of data;
    • Providing incentives for AI investment, research and development; and
    • Promoting apprenticeships and training for those whose jobs may be displaced or transformed by AI, including state employees.     

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 22, 2018

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Executive Director (A)
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Little Hoover Commission Elects New Chairman and Vice Chairman


    On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the Little Hoover Commission unanimously re-elected Pedro Nava as chairman and unanimously re-elected Sean Varner as vice chairman.  This will be Mr. Nava’s fifth consecutive year term as chair and Mr. Varner’s second year term as vice chair.

    Mr. Nava has served on the Commission since April 3, 2013, when he was appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez.  He was reappointed to the Commission in January 2017 by Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon.  Mr. Nava previously served on the Commission as a California Assembly representative from September 2005 until March 2010.  Under Mr. Nava’s leadership, the Commission has reviewed and made recommendations on a wide variety of study areas including; improving interactions with government, climate change adaptation, the underground economy, open meetings acts, the Mental Health Services Act, Denti-Cal, forest management, special districts, mandatory overtime, occupational licensing, bond oversight and the veterans homes program.

    Mr. Nava served in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2010 representing the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.  After leaving the Legislature, Mr. Nava served as a government relations advisor.  In 2011, he was appointed to the California Department of Fish & Game Blue Ribbon Commission (renamed Department of Fish & Wildlife in 2013) to assist in the development of the Wildlife Strategic Vision.  Previously, he worked as a civil litigator after serving as a deputy district attorney in Fresno and Santa Barbara counties.  Mr. Nava also served on the California Coastal Commission.  

    While in the Legislature, he chaired several Assembly committees, including Transportation, Banking and Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, the Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and the Joint Commission on Emergency Management.  Mr. Nava also served on several other Assembly committees, including the Insurance, Business and Professions and Joint Legislative Audit, and was an Assembly representative to the Ocean Protection Council and California Transportation Commission.    

    Sean Varner was appointed to the Commission by Governor Edmund Brown Jr. in April 2016. Mr. Varner serves as managing partner at Varner & Brandt LLP where he practices as a transactional attorney focusing on mergers and acquisitions, finance, real estate and general counsel work.  Mr. Varner serves as chair of the board of the directors of The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and on the University of California, Riverside Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also served as two-time chairman of the California Inland Empire Chapter of the Young President’s Organization.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan, independent state oversight agency created in 1962.  It is comprised of 13 appointed Commissioners, four of whom are state legislators and nine of whom are public members.  Its mission is to investigate state government operations and – through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals – promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 5, 2018

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Executive Director (A)
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Commission Urges Culture Change to Stop Catastrophic Fires and Tree Deaths
     

    The Little Hoover Commission released a new report Monday, calling for a dramatic culture change in the way forests are managed to curb a disastrous cycle of wildfire and tree deaths.

    Instead of focusing almost solely on fire suppression, the state must institute wide-scale controlled burns and other strategic measures as a tool to reinvigorate forests, inhibit firestorms and help protect air and water quality, according to the Commission’s report, Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada.

    Immediate action is crucial, according to Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “Dead trees due to drought and a century of forest mismanagement have devastated scenic landscapes throughout the Sierra range,” said Chair Nava. “Rural counties and homeowners alike are staggering under the financial impacts of removing them. We have catastrophe-scale fire danger throughout our unhealthy forests and a growing financial burden for all taxpayers and government like California has never seen.”

    Over the course of the Commission’s year-long study, the number of dead trees in the Sierra rose from 102 million to 129 million. The Commission found that the deadly bark beetle invasion, responsible for the tree kill, signaled a larger problem of mismanaged forests and climate change.

    The report, sent to Governor Brown and the Legislature, makes nine recommendations to restore forests back to their historic fire regime. The Commission urges expanded funding for state prescribed fire crews and forest administrators to oversee a transformation to more proactive forest management. Resilient forests improve safety and make economic sense. The costs of mismanaged forests – for every level of government and many California homeowners in and around the Sierra Nevada – have become an unsustainable burden in California. Firefighting costs in the first half of this fiscal year alone have already topped $700 million.

    In addition, the Commission found that forest treatments should be accelerated and expanded throughout the Sierra Nevada and that there must be greater teamwork between state and federal forestry agencies to plan and implement the work. And, the state must create a long-term bioenergy plan to address the disposal of millions of dead trees as well as fund and develop a public education campaign about the importance of healthy forests in the Sierra Nevada.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    In Memory of LHC Executive Director Carole D’Elia

    December 20, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Terri Hardy, Deputy Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    CaroleThe Little Hoover Commission regretfully announces the death of its Executive Director, Carole D’Elia, on Saturday, December 16. She was 55. Carole was diagnosed with cancer in September following a family camping and hiking trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. She welcomed the widespread support of her many friends and acquaintances, and fought bravely to the end.

    Carole brought a deep institutional history to the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency. She joined the team in 2001 as a research analyst and served as project manager and deputy executive director before serving as executive director since 2013. She left a legacy of tackling some of the most complicated issues facing California state government, including pensions, water quality, healthcare and long-term care, infrastructure and spending. She developed an especially deep knowledge and passion for energy and bond spending.

    Among her many important contributions to the state, perhaps the most lasting will be those in criminal justice. Her work in the Commission’s report, Solving California’s Corrections Crisis: Time is Running Out, was the first citation in the 2011 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Plata, which held that California’s overcrowded prison system violated 8th Amendment rights.

    “She was a remarkable person who cared deeply about the Commission's work and inspired all around her to reach higher,” said Pedro Nava, chair of the Little Hoover Commission. “She was thoughtful, considerate and caring. Her zeal was perfectly paired with the practical. We pledge to continue to perform our work in a way that would make her proud.”

    Carole dedicated her career to making California state government more effective, handled policy analysis with grace and helped the Commission skillfully navigate the political currents to find bipartisan, lasting solutions.

    She also was a member and leader of the Sacramento County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commissions and a volunteer coordinator with Get on the Bus, which provides bus trips for children to visit their incarcerated mothers. Additionally, Carole served on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Gender Responsive Strategies Commission and the St. Anthony Parish Social Justice Committee. She also worked with homeless families as part of Family Promise.

    Carole leaves her loving husband, John, and cherished children, Amanda and Adam. She is deeply missed by her six-member Commission staff in Sacramento and 12 current Commissioners and many former Commissioners throughout the state.

     

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 5, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125
     

    Little Hoover Commission Calls for Urgent Repair and Bold Transformation of the Yountville Veterans Home Campus
     

    The state must immediately fix public safety threats at the Yountville veteran’s home, including malfunctioning elevators and other critical infrastructure issues, according to the Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Tuesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature. The report calls for bold and innovative approaches to transform the historic 615-acre campus in the heart of Napa Valley to better meet the changing needs of veterans statewide.

    Transforming the Yountville Veterans Home Campus builds on findings from a March 2017 Commission report in which the Commission identified critical infrastructures issues on the historic Yountville veterans home that pose a public safety risk to residents and others. Early in its study process the Commission identified problems with antiquated heating and cooling systems and alarming malfunctions of elevators in the home’s multi-story skilled nursing facility, designed to house veterans with acute health care needs, some of whom also have mobility challenges. This update report acknowledges efforts by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to address some of these issues, particularly to fix the faulty elevators. However, despite repairs, the problems persist. The report calls for CalVet to develop ongoing and proactive strategies to monitor and repair structural problems immediately as they arise, while at the same time evaluating and re-configuring, as necessary, its homes program to ensure that the levels of care offered meet the needs of California’s veterans population.

    Additionally, the Commission determined the state has greater latitude than originally believed to craft a new future for the home. Officials long had operated under the misperception that use of the Yountville property is limited by a 1899 deed that stated California must maintain the property as a home for United States soldiers, sailors and marines. Instead, the Commission discovered that state law permits leasing real property on the Yountville veterans home campus and lawmakers could further clarify the terms and purposes of leasing opportunities.

    “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform pristine property in the heart of Napa Valley and do so in a way that honors the history of the campus, while simultaneously expanding the state’s ability to serve more veterans,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. 

    The Commission recommends that California establish an independent entity to plan, design and manage the use of the Yountville property, beyond the current veterans home program. New uses could include affordable housing for veterans home employees and others, park space for residents and visitors, modernized office space in formerly underutilized buildings and a hotel and restaurants to serve the community while providing jobs for returning veterans. Though the Commission recommends the property should maintain a strong veterans focus, state law should be adapted to expand the use of the campus to allow long-term leasing agreements that generate revenue to be used for other veterans services across the state.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    Press Release

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 30, 2017

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Little Hoover Commission Calls for Special District Reforms


    The Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Wednesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature, recommended several measures to strengthen oversight of California’s 2,071 independent special districts.  The state should eliminate unnecessary hurdles for district dissolutions and consolidations to improve service delivery, expand transparency by requiring every district to have a website with basic information and standardize current reporting requirements on  revenues, expenditures and reserves, according to the Commission’s report, Special Districts: Improving Oversight & Transparency.

    “Special districts are the most common form of government in California, yet because there are so many performing so many different types of services, it is hard to draw conclusions on whether taxpayers would be better served if various districts merged or consolidated,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava.  “Current local government oversight of these districts is working in many places, but not all corners of California.  To that end we are recommending some legislative changes that should lead to improved service delivery and greater efficiency.”

    Special districts are the workhorses of government in California, providing vital services ranging from fire protection to water, cemeteries to sewers. Often it is special districts on the front lines of adapting to climate change and the Commission’s study focused on the important role districts can plan in both planning for change and educating their constituents. The Commission spent a year investigating whether California taxpayers are well-served by this little-understood layer of bureaucracy.  While they vary greatly in size and in servces provided, some common themes emerged.

    The Commission found that the 58 Local Agency Formation Commission charged with oversight are not uniformly effective at initiating dissolutions and consolidations when necessary to improve service delivery and efficiency.  The Commission recommends several legislative modifications to strengthen these local bodies as well as a small one-time funding injection to initiate the most urgent dissolutions and consolidations, something that should save taxpayer dollars in the long run. 

    Also in its review, the Commission found it difficult to find basic information on all special districts.  The Commission recommended requiring every special district to maintain a website outlining how to participate in decision making and an easy guide to revenue resources and expenditures, plus a published policy for financial reserves.

    Additionally, the Commission focused on one type of district – healthcare districts – particularly those that no longer operate hospitals.  It found this segment needs to evolve to a modern preventative healthcare model, as some healthcare districts have.  As a start, the Commission recommends updating the outdated practice act that governs these districts.

    The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

    California's Little Hoover Commission Launches New Website, Brand and Logo


    The Commission is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website, brand and logo. Our refreshed new look mirrors the exciting and engaging direction we are taking the Commission’s work.

    Over the past year, the Commission has been working with lowercase productions to enhance our brand identity and web communication strategies. The Commission began its journey by developing a new logo design that better reflects its core mission, values, vision and purpose. You’ll see our refreshed look on our new website, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube platforms, and very soon on all of our business collateral, as well.

    In conjunction with our brand identity project, we also redesigned our website. With a focus on user experience, we wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing website with an intuitively accessible navigation scheme to make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.

    We will be continually expanding our online content to bring you updated information about future events, report releases and much more. So we encourage you to sign-up for our public notice list – located on our contact us page – and follow us on Twitter!

    We invite you to explore our new website and welcome your feedback.


    Start Exploring
     
    • Homepage: At a glance, see upcoming events, recent reports, current studies, and quick links to get to where you want to go with one click. The rotating slideshow displays images of California’s diverse and beautiful landscapes. These images were selected to represent those who we serve – every Californian.
       
    • Report Library: Read our reports and learn more about our findings and recommendations. The new report library search engine and drop-down menu is a powerful yet simple feature, making it easier for you to filter through our 230 plus reports by subject areas or key words. You have the option of viewing the report library in a grid or list format.
       
    • Current Studies: Learn more about our current studies in progress and view their study schedules.
       
    • Events: Preview upcoming and past hearings, meetings, site visits and events. Quickly view the time and location of the event, agenda, public notice and the associated study page.
       
    • About: Meet our Commissioners and staff, and learn about the Commission’s role and responsibilities, organization, study process and history, and the Commission’s role in the Governor’s Reorganization process and oversight of the California State Auditor.
       
    • Impact: Learn about our impact in California state government and see highlighted implementation activities displaying our direct and long-term effects. Read about the Commission’s exciting work in the news and find legislation the Commission has supported during each two-year legislative session.
       
    • Contact Us: Participate! The new contact us form allows you to select multiple options for how you want to share your thoughts with us and follow our activities.