Auditor Bump appoints three to state advisory council
December 4, 2013
Today State Auditor Suzanne Bump administered the oath of office for her three appointments to the Commonwealth’s Personal Care Attendant Quality Home Care Workforce Council (PCA Council).
Auditor Bump’s appointees include:
- Paul Spooner of Taunton
- Anne Johansen of Quincy
- Cindy Purcell of Rutland
The Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Program is a MassHealth program that helps people with long-term disabilities live independently at home. The PCA program gives each eligible MassHealth member funds to hire a personal care attendant to help with activities of daily living.
The PCA Council is a legislatively created governmental body which uses citizen engagement as an instrument for strengthening the PCA program. The Council consists of 9 members. Other appointments are made by the Governor and the Attorney General. Council members serve a three year term.
State Representatives Tackey Chan, Kimberly Ferguson, and Shaunna O’Connell were also in attendance.
Fall River Herald News Editorial: Auditing Mass. Business Tax Breaks
December 4, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Fall River Herald News.
The state auditor’s office plays a crucial function in ensuring that taxpayers’ dollars are spent wisely. As such, the elected office independently audits the programs administered by nearly every state agency. But the agency in charge of collecting tax dollars and administering a wide array of business-related tax breaks valued at $2 billion has very limited outside oversight.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump wants to change that. Bump and state Rep. Jay Kaufman, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue, have each filed twin legislation that would allow her office to analyze the business tax returns of companies that receive any of the 91 tax breaks available to see that those companies are holding up their end of the bargain with the tax breaks’ intended purpose. Although the auditing practice is common in 36 of the 41 states that require businesses to file tax returns, the Massachusetts auditor is barred by statute from accessing those records...
...This legislation, which has 13 Democratic co-sponsors, deserves the support of both Democrats and Republicans and deserves a hearing as soon as possible. The Department of Revenue does not object to the legislation allowing the audits, and in fact, helped draft the bill.
Read the full editorial, or click here to learn more about the legislation.
Lowell Sun: Bump wants access to business tax returns to audit credits
November 19, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Lowell Sun.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump is requesting the power to access confidential corporate tax returns, records she said would allow her office to determine whether tax incentives given by the state are an efficient and effective use of government resources.
"We have to look at business tax returns to see if the Department of Revenue is actually auditing according to how they say they are," Bump said. "We wanted to be able to say, 'Is what you're doing good enough? Are you missing areas where there could be potential for fraud, or is this actually benefiting us? Is this actually benefiting the group of businesses or the people that you want to see employed? What is the impact of it?' "
During a meeting with The Sun's editorial board Monday, Bump said that of the 41 states that require the filing of tax returns, 36 specifically authorize the state auditor to review them.
She filed legislation requesting that authority earlier this year, more than two years after an audit of business-related tax credits and other expenditures found little oversight, accountability or transparency.
Bump said her office then set out to audit the administration of tax-incentive programs but could not do so without being able to analyze and confirm the data contained in businesses' tax returns.
While the state budget is scrutinized by "thousands of eyes" each year, many tax credits are "never looked at again," though tax policy and the budget have equal impact on government revenue, Bump said.
Read more from the Lowell Sun.
Cape Cod Times: Bump hits a speed bump
November 15, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Cape Cod Times.
Late last week, state Auditor Suzanne Bump met with our editorial board to promote legislation that would help her office review the effectiveness of corporate tax breaks.
Bump said her office is currently unable to audit the state's oversight of tax breaks because it is prohibited from accessing corporate tax returns. Without a change in the law, Bump is unable to determine if the more than $2 billion worth of tax breaks, which were granted for purposes ranging from job creation to promoting green technology, are working. Bump said 36 other states give their auditors the power to review tax returns.
Unfortunately, several business leaders oppose the bill, arguing that the auditor could possibly make public sensitive information contained in corporate tax returns. Bump recently told the Associated Press that the purpose of her review would be only to assess whether the tax breaks were good public policy, and not to target any individual companies.
The state Legislature should approve the bill.
Read more from the Cape Cod Times.
Berkshire Eagle Editorial: Zeroing in on tax breaks
November 5, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Berkshire Eagle.
Massachusetts wisely uses tax breaks to encourage business and industry to come here and thrive here, but the flip side is taxpayers require assurances that these breaks are merited and used properly. A good way to do this would be for the state auditor's office to review Department of Revenue documents to see if the department is enforcing them adequately. The auditor does not currently have this power, but the Legislature should pass the bill needed to provide it.
In a recent interview at The Eagle, auditor Suzanne Bump said that $2.2 billion in businesses expenditures are not subject to auditing, which means in her words "there is no measure of success." The state and its taxpayers don't know if the expenditures are reported in detail, if there is a sunset provision allowing them to lapse, or if there are clawback provisions enabling tax breaks to be withdrawn and money repaid if the recipient doesn't deliver on jobs or other economic benefits...
...If businesses want tax breaks then they are obligated to show the public that what they are doing in exchange for the tax breaks is of genuine public benefit. Businesses opposed to this concept don't have to apply for tax breaks. The legislation advocated by Ms. Bump is reasonable and overdue, and the Legislature should make it law in the months ahead.
COUNTING CHANGE: By tracking bullying, schools can prevent it
October 25, 2013 - The following content is from a opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which originally appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Too often it takes something tragic to inspire a truly novel change in government.
The 1984 death of a 19- year-old college freshman forced to gorge alcohol in a fraternity initiation rite was the motivating incident behind a law outlawing all types of hazing at all Massachusetts colleges and high schools. More recently, the suicide of Phoebe Prince after years of brutal torment lent urgency to the passage of an anti-bullying law.
Both laws were landmark legislation filling a gross void in our system of public safety. They provide our schools, children and families with the tools they need to combat bullying and hazing. However, policy is only as good as it is effective. Our current anti-bullying law lacks the requirement that bullying data be reported so that you, as policymakers, can assess the law’s effectiveness. What good is it to have a law if you do not know if it works?
Springfield Republican: State audit faults Holyoke Geriatric Authority
September 25, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
The state auditor Wednesday detailed how mismanagement at the Holyoke Geriatric Authority that included alleged misuse of credit cards and failure to seize revenue opportunities led to a $2.2 million debt to city agencies.
The 34-page audit renewed calls from Mayor Alex B. Morse and others for a transition that could include privatizing the struggling nursing home at 45 Lower Westfield Road and possibly relocating patients.
Holyoke Mayor Morse talks to CBS3 Springfield about the audit.
The city and a revamped authority board of commissioners in May 2012 requested the audit, which the office of Suzanne M. Bump began in August 2012. Patricia C. Devine, a former city councilor, took over as authority board chairwoman in April 2012.
The audit covers the period of Jan. 1, 2010, to June 30, 2012.
"The series of deficiencies detailed in this report describe an environment ripe for waste and abuse," Bump said in a press release with the audit.
"Holyoke is at a crossroads of its financial future, and it must be determined if the Geriatric Authority can be transitioned to a state of self-sufficiency or if it should continue to be supported by the taxpayers," Bump said.
Berkshire Eagle: Sandisfield woman sentenced for larceny, false claims to Medicaid
September 23, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Berkshire Eagle.
A registered nurse from Sandisfield received a suspended jail sentence on Friday in connection with a scheme to bill the state's Medicaid program for more than $25,000 while at horse competitions.
Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini handed Robin Annecharico, 49, an 18-month sentence in the Berkshire County House of Correction suspended for a probationary period of five years.
Annecharico was also ordered to pay $23,126 in restitution to MassHealth, according to the State Attorney General's office, which prosecuted the case with assistance from the state Auditor's office. MassHealth is the state's Medicaid program.
On Aug. 29, Annecharico pleaded guilty to six counts of larceny over $250, six counts of Medicaid false claims, two counts of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements under penalty of perjury, in Superior Court. She also fabricated treatment and medical records for her patients to obstruct the ongoing criminal investigation by the state Attorney General's Office and a Berkshire County grand jury.
Boston Herald: State cracking down on medical benefits fraud
September 18, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Herald.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump said her office is “prioritizing” people who scam on medical benefits after her investigators detected nearly twice as much MassHealth fraud in fiscal year 2013 from the year before — including people who claimed to be giving in-home medical care to the dead.
As part of the record-setting $6.3 million in public-assistance fraud her office uncovered in fiscal year 2013, more than $3 million, or 48 percent, stemmed from MassHealth, according to a report released yesterday by Bump’s office. It’s nearly double the $1.6 million in MassHealth fraud investigators found the year before, and a jump from $2.7 million in 2011.
Patriot Ledger: Price tag for U.S Senate election is $7.2 million, state auditor says
September 13, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Cities and towns are due $7.2 million to cover the costs of this year’s special elections to fill a U.S. Senate seat, state Auditor Suzanne Bump has reported.
Bump’s office contacted all 351 of the state’s municipalities to determine their costs for this year’s primary and general election.
The state Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick now must approve the funding.
“Conducting statewide elections are essential, but costly burdens on our local communities,” Bump said in a statement. “It is now time for the state to hold up its end of the deal.”
09/13/13 - The Greenfield Recorder
COUNTING CHANGE: The upside to government collecting big data
August 10, 2013 - The following content is from a opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which originally appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
The concept of big data formerly existed only in the realm of information techies. Now, however, due especially to the NSA’s collection of telephone records, it has entered mainstream discussion. It isn’t clear, however, how well it is understood by many who are tossing around the term, and that lack of understanding is causing some to equate big data with big brother.
Big data refers to the capacity to collect, store, analyze, manage and transmit typically large volumes of different kinds of information at high speeds. The private sector has long used big data to find trends and turn them into profits. It determines what type of junk mail you receive, the suggested reading list on your Kindle, and the focusing of your internet searches. It has helped research medical breakthroughs, design products and services, streamline business processes, and determine optimum inventory levels.
Increasingly, governments are expanding their big data capabilities. They too want to put to new uses the large amounts of data they can both generate and collect from multiple sources and in multiple formats.
Recent controversies should not lead to immediate denunciation of governments’ use of big data, because it can accomplish much good.
Springfield Republican: Audit finds more than $300,000 in unpaid fees at DCR
July 17, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
A state audit of longterm permits and leases at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation uncovered more than $300,000 in unpaid fees, failures to impose late penalties and use of properties with expired contracts or without any formal written agreement.
The department in 2011 had asked Auditor Suzanne Bump's office for the review of its long-term permit and lease programs. The department knew the unit suffered from flaws stemming from restructuring issues created by the merger of an old state commission and environmental department that resulted in creation of the conservation department.
The department also attributed the problems to budget cuts in recent years.
"DCR's lease management staff has been gutted to the bare minimum over recent years, which led in part to the significant deficiencies identified in the audit," Bump said in a statement.
In the wake of the audit, the department has collected $198,111 of the $366,863 in outstanding fees pinpointed in the report, the audit said. Before the audit, the department was only aware that $49,620 of the unpaid fees were outstanding.
07/17/13 - Commonwealth Magazine