The following pieces of legislation are pending in the 190th General Court (2017-2018) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Accountability Agenda
During the 2017-18 Massachusetts legislative session, Auditor Suzanne M. Bump is bringing forward the Accountability Agenda to build public trust in government. These bills will ensure that government is acting accountably, and leveraging the power of innovative technology and data to enhance performance and improve transparency.
The Revenue Accountability Act
The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) is tasked with providing independent oversight of entities receiving state funds to ensure they are responsibly using taxpayer dollars. However, it is limited in its ability to provide the same level of scrutiny to the department that collects those tax dollars—the Department of Revenue (DOR). While the OSA is able to audit operational aspects of the DOR—such as how it is protecting filing cabinets and other property from theft or loss—it is unable to conduct audits to ensure DOR is effectively managing activities that are at the heart of the department’s mission—those that deal with collection and oversight of tax revenue. The Revenue Accountability Act will allow the OSA to access tax return information for audit purposes. Examples of the types of audits the OSA could conduct upon passage of this act include: an examination of whether DOR is properly remitting to municipalities appropriate revenue collected through local option taxes, reviewing whether agencies are confirming wage eligibility for public assistance programs, and ensuring DOR is garnishing tax returns of individuals who owe delinquent child support.
The Accountability Through Data Access Act
While traditional auditing relies on samples of physical files from state entities to draw conclusions about how those entities are meeting their responsibilities, OSA has been a leading force of innovation in the field. It has used technological advancements to rely less on small samples of files, and instead uses data to examine entire entities to assess their performance. The Accountability Through Data Access Act would provide OSA auditors with the same access to the digital data of auditees that they have to physical data and files. This measure would ensure that state laws keep up with the pace of innovation.
The Accountability for Taxpayer Assets Act
The Accountability for Taxpayer Assets Act will give the State Comptroller, in consultation with the State Auditor, the ability to establish regulations related to existing reporting requirements for state agencies and departments regarding their processes and plans to mitigate risks to taxpayer assets.