WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

GAO report calls for better communication efforts by the International Joint Commission

Jul 28, 2020
Originally published on July 27, 2020 11:06 am

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office says that the International Joint Commission, the agency that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario, needs to do a better job of communicating with the public.

The report was issued last week by the GAO, which is a non-partisan watchdog agency that reports to Congress. Its report focused on the way IJC has communicated elements of Plan 2014 than the controversy over the technical aspects of the plan, which regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the IJC, said the commission is receptive to the suggestions made by the GAO.

“What the GAO has recommended is that we follow best public relations practices which includes researching the various stakeholders and how they get their information and being more targeted and effective in our delivery of that information,” Bevacqua said.

Among those who have been critical of the report, is Congressman John Katko, a Republican from the Syracuse area whose district includes Wayne County. He said the GAO report just highlights another problem with Plan 2014.

“They’re not being transparent enough, they’re not engaging the stakeholders and the shoreline communities and they’re not getting the data they need from the appropriate sources like the shoreline communities,” Katko said.

The congressman also noted there is bipartisan opposition to the way Plan 2014 has been carried out, with two area Democrats in Congress, Rep. Joe Morelle, and Rep. Anthony Brinidisi of Utica, also expressing opposition to the impact of the plan on lake levels.

Bevacqua said the commission has tried to involve stakeholders in the process.

“We’ve involved stakeholders in an advisory capacity directly in that review, including some of most prominent critics, and so, they’re at the table, they’re rolling up their sleeves, Bevacqua said. "We’re really trying to see if we can reach a mutual understanding and make some improvement."

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