State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump
From State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump...
Happy fiscal new year!
While most people celebrate the new year in January, in government we generally operate on a fiscal year that ends on June 30th. This means agencies not only wrap up their budgets and reporting, but also reflect on their accomplishments of the last twelve months.
To celebrate the fiscal new year, we do not have a ball to drop in Times Square, but we are counting down 10 ways that the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump made government work better in Fiscal Year 2018.
- In September, Auditor Bump released an audit of the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) which found 1,769 sex offenders that were in violation of their reporting requirements and nearly 1,000 that were never classified. Bump called on the agency to take a more active approach to finding those offenders that had fallen off the radar. Since the audit was released, SORB has expanded its data-sharing agreements with state agencies to help them find missing offenders and members of the legislature have brought forward legislation to close reporting gaps identified by the audit.
- Auditor Bump determined that parts of the early voting law that went into effect in 2016 constituted an unfunded mandate on local governments. Since that determination, she has worked with city and town clerks, as well as lawmakers, to reimburse communities for their 2016 spending, and to develop a way to fund this service for future elections. As a result of that work and advocacy, Massachusetts communities received over $1 million to cover 2016 expenditures and a permanent funding process was included in the Senate budget and is currently being debated by the budget conference committee.
- In October, Auditor Bump and her Division of Local Mandates released a report that highlighted the challenges facing regional school districts (RSDs) in the Commonwealth. Since then, she’s toured the Commonwealth to speak with school officials and policymakers about the difficulties that result from the state’s broken promises to fund the transportation costs of these schools. In response to this and the work of educators, legislators and advocates across the state, the House and Senate included funding increases in their budget proposals for RSDs.
- A November audit of Salem State University found that the school was not adequately inventorying its information technology assets, which left them at greater risk for loss, theft or misuse. The loss or theft of laptops and other IT assets is a problem that has been well documented by Auditor Bump’s audits of educational institutions. Following the audit, the school reports it conducted a top-to-bottom review of its IT inventory and is making better use of technology to ensure it continues to adequately track computers, cell phones, servers, and other equipment.
- Auditor Bump’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) announced that it had continued its record of success in identifying fraud in public benefit programs by identifying $16.9 million in potential fraud during the previous year. In addition, the work of BSI resulted in the indictments of multiple individuals for allegedly defrauding these important programs.
- After Auditor Bump called on the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund to reduce the 9 month wait time her audit found for families with critically-ill children, the agency took steps to implement the audit’s recommendations. As a result, the agency reports that the wait-time for families has been reduced by 33 percent.
- At the request of county leadership, Auditor Bump conducted an audit of the Barnstable County government. The audit recommended significant improvements to the County’s processes for administering leases of its property and its financing of capital projects. Following the audit, county leadership reports it reexamined, renegotiated, and in some cases terminated leases of its property, and implemented a new process for funding capital projects. Through these two steps, the county expects to see hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer savings.
- In September, Auditor Bump provided recommendations to the Department of Veterans Services to improve its process for paying benefits to veterans in the Commonwealth. Following the audit, DVS took steps to better use data and other resources that are available to it—such as the Social Security Death Master File—to make sure its resources are going to assist veterans and to eliminate payments that continued to be sent to veterans after they were deceased.
- As part of a series of audits examining the protocols in place at colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to meet the needs of students with disabilities, Auditor Bump found that Greenfield Community College did not have protocols to evacuate these students in the event of an emergency. The school reports that it quickly took steps to improve its emergency evacuation protocols to ensure they addressed the needs of these students.
- A recently released audit of the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) found that the agency was not properly approving disability retirement benefits that were calculated by the retirement boards it oversees. This could result in individuals receiving greater retirement benefits than they are entitled. In response to the audit, PERAC reports that it cleared the backlog of reviewed calculations and has taken steps to ensure all calculations are reviewed in a timely fashion going forward.