Monday, June 28, 2010

The Ward Commission Report - Treasure of the State Library for June, 2010

John William Ward, a scholar and former President of Amherst College, was appointed in 1979 to chair a Commission whose final report would come to be known by his name. This twelve volume study, owned by the State Library, became one of the most important reports ever written in this state. Its official title is Commission Concerning State and County Buildings in Massachusetts; and it was created in response to a 1977 scandal related to the construction of the University of Massachusetts, Boston and to the construction industry in general.

An article from the Boston Globe, written in 2006 by Dave Denison, points out how the Commission found, for example, that the state had allocated $17 billion dollars to construction from 1968 until 1978 and that not only had $7 billion been poorly spent, but also that 76% of the buildings sampled had defects!!!!! Kickbacks to elected officials were rampant, and corruption was omnipresent. Due to the findings, two state Senators were convicted of extortion.

Appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis as the Chair of the seven member group, Ward was credited with a strong sense of ethics as he led the more than two and a half year study. The final document is over 2,000 pages in length and was released on December 31, 1981.

A major outcome of the study was the creation of the Office of the Inspector General. This office has come into prominence in the monitoring of state agencies and government. It was the first such state agency in the country.

The State Library owns two copies of the twelve volume report. One is kept on Reference and the other, housed in the library stacks, is available for loan.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Dept.