Boston Herald: Auditor seeks closer look at film tax credit data
October 27, 2015 - This content was originally published by the Boston Herald.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump is renewing her call for more access to data on the state’s controversial film tax credit and other lucrative incentives in the wake of a Herald report that highlighted the practice by filmmakers of selling them to companies and individuals whose identities remain shrouded from public view.
“I firmly believe that the Legislature and the public need more information as to the efficacy, that is, the fairness and effectiveness, of all of our business tax expenditures,” Bump said in a statement to the Herald, calling on lawmakers to give her the power to review “all the information” reported to DOR.
“Not to audit individual companies,” she explained, “but to determine which types of businesses are benefiting from the billions of dollars’ worth of tax breaks in our tax code.”
Read more from the Boston Herald.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette: State audit finds no issues at QCC
October 26, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Quinsigamond Community College appears to be humming along fine, according to a recent audit done by state Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office.
The latest report, a regularly scheduled performance audit that looked at the college’s activities from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, "did not identify any significant deficiencies" in the areas auditors focused on, according to the executive summary.
Read more from the Telegram & Gazette.
WCVB: Auditor: Ride company over-billed state in 'deliberate wrongdoing'
October 5, 2015 - The following content originally aired on WCVB.
MassHealth’s largest vendor for non-emergency transportation improperly billed the state for more than $16 million dollars in rides, putting in for more expensive wheelchair van claims when instead the clients were almost all able to walk, according to a report released Monday afternoon by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
“I think this is a case of deliberate wrongdoing,” Bump told 5 Investigates.
The newly released audit also says that Rite Way, which until recently was by far the largest provider of non-emergency transportation to MassHealth customers, made claims for hospitalized clients when in fact “transportation never occurred” and also billed the state for rides to methadone clinics when clients never received treatment.
Quincy Patriot Ledger: Our Opinion: 3 stories of those doing their jobs and doing them well
October 5, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Oftentimes, when a public, private, or government agency is in the newspapers, it's because it somehow failed in its duties and breached the public's trust.
This week, however, we bring you three stories of those who are doing their jobs and doing it well.
On Friday, state Auditor Suzanne Bump released her performance audit of Old Colony Elder Services based in Brockton. The nonprofit, which serves the elderly and disabled, receives nearly $20 million of its $34 million in annual revenue from state contracts. The auditor’s office is charged with ensuring it is well run.
Read more from the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
WBZ: Keller @ Large: Can DCF be fixed?
October 4, 2015 - The following content originally aired on WBZ.
After another week of negative headlines for the Department of Children and Families, WBZ poltiical analyst Jon Keller asks State Auditor Suzanne Bump what can be done to fix chronic problems at the troubled agency.
Bump says one major issue is that DCF social workers say that they communicate better with schools, courts, and law enforcement that sister agencies in the executive branch.
View more from WBZ.
Springfield Republican: State auditor applauds changes at Department of Children and Families during Holyoke visit
September 30, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Days after the governor announced the new policies, which aim to reduce caseloads and retain and recruit social workers, Bump told the Holyoke Golden Seniors that she's pleased to see state officials lead on this front, particularly in the wake of recent, high-profile child deaths and 2014 audit findings.
"I'm rather excited about the fact that they are looking to the audit that we have done, but also looking to a report that was done by the Child Welfare League of America that found the same kinds of problems that our audit did," she said, during an event at the Holyoke Council on Aging. "And getting back to basics and rebuilding that agency from the start – not trying to put a Band Aid on a symptom, but looking holistically at the agency."
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
Boston Business Journal: State's venture arm criticized over job-reporting practices
September 28, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Business Journal.
MassVentures, the state's venture capital arm, isn't doing enough to verify data around the jobs impact of its various investments, according to a recently published audit.
The report, which includes data from fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2014, comes roughly five years after MassVentures drew criticism from the state regarding its methods of collecting and verifying data about Massachusetts jobs stemming from its investments. The venture outfit reports on its jobs-creation stats annually to the Legislature.
Read more from the Boston Business Journal.
Boston Globe: Opinion: To fix DCF, first transform the culture
September 25, 2015 - he following content is from an Opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which was originally published on bostonglobe.com.
Each tragic headline this year has made the public wonder anew why the Department of Children and Families has not yet fixed itself. After all, the Legislature restored some of the funding it had cut from its budget, the governor appointed a new leader who is instituting changes in policies and procedures, employees and parents have provided input into an improvement process, and many of the social workers now have iPads for more timely record-keeping. Like many of our most persistent problems, however, the solutions require more than money and technology, or even new ideas. They require an emphasis on addressing root causes and on collaboration from across state government.
...Think about the reasons why DCF is called in to help a family. Poverty, mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, sexual abuse. If we really want to help the families served by DCF, the administration needs to create greater collaboration and support from agencies that provide the social services DCF families need. DCF families don’t live in silos, and neither should DCF.
Read more from Auditor Bump's column on bostonglobe.com.
WWLP: Watchdog agencies seek new powers to monitor tax credits
September 22, 2015 - The following content was originally published by State House News Service and WWLP.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump and Inspector General Glenn Cunha both want access to Department of Revenue information that they said would allow them to provide oversight to the state’s sundry tax credit programs.
“Massachusetts corporate tax expenditure budget accounts for $3.2 billion in foregone tax revenue for [fiscal 2016]. However unlike with MassHealth and [Department of Transitional Assistance], my office is effectively powerless to ensure that the use of most tax credits, incentives and deductions by businesses is properly overseen by the Department of Revenue,” Bump told lawmakers. “Additionally, there is currently no process for determining whether these tax credits, deferrals, and incentives actually work. Let me repeat that, we have no way of knowing if a $3.2 billion program is working.”
Springfield Republican: Audit questions $4 million in MassHealth wheelchair-related payments
September 16, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican
State Auditor Suzanne Bump is questioning $4 million in MassHealth payments for wheelchairs and related components, citing nearly $3 million spent without proper authorization.
The audit found that the agency paid $2.9 million in repair claims for wheelchairs and component parts without proper authorization. Repair claims that exceed $1,000 must receive prior authorization, according to the auditor's office.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
9/16/15 - Boston Business Journal
Boston Herald: Bump: DCF audit lacked crucial info
September 11, 2015- This content was originally published in the Boston Herald.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said her office got less information from the state’s troubled child welfare agency than the Boston Herald, highlighting the lack of management and organization at the Department of Children and Families.
Bump said she had asked DCF to tell her in how many cases it had waived criminal history requirements for foster homes.
“They just couldn’t tell us how many waivers were in place when we were auditing,” she said. “Unless you can go to a centralized system and say how many of these has occurred, then how is it you determine whether they followed the procedure in granting the waiver?”
Read more from the Boston Herald.
Springfield Republican: Mass. Auditor Suzanne Bump: 2014 report warned of state foster care problems
September 7, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican
State Auditor Suzanne Bump says issues of a lack of collaboration between agencies, weak policies and procedures, and unreliable or outdated data cited in last week's state report how 7-year-old Jack Loiselle of Hardwick ended up in a coma while his family was under state supervision are no surprise.
Bump said she and her staff raised the same issues of systemic ineffectiveness in a 2014 audit of the state foster care system.
"(Friday's) report from the Department of Children and Families' investigation into the tragic circumstances that landed a child in a coma while under state supervision is a woeful necessity and long overdue," Bump said.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
Berkshire Eagle: State Auditor Bump tours Hillcrest facilities
August 14, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Berkshire Eagle.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump toured two Hillcrest Educational Centers facilities on Friday to gain feedback from a longtime vendor providing services to the state's MassHealth program — and also because she's known the president and CEO since she appointed him to a state board about eight years ago.
"Over the years, Jerry [CEO Gerald Burke] has been bending my ear quite a bit about the variety of services offered here," Bump said, smiling, during a visit to the Hillcrest dental care center at 788 South St. "It's not just out of curiosity, but also because they do see a lot of MassHealth patients."
Her office has spent "a lot of time looking at the MassHealth program, its effectiveness, its efficiencies and other aspects of its operation," she said. "So [this helps] to a get a better hands-on feel for what it is like to be a MassHealth provider."
Read more from the Berkshire Eagle.
Governing Magazine: Can Massachusetts Get Its Tax Giveaways Under Control?
August 4, 2015 - The following content was originally published in Governing Magazine.
Most states offer an array of business tax breaks that result in significant foregone revenue. In Massachusetts, the amount is in the billions. Legislation backed by state Auditor Suzanne Bump would give her office access to business tax returns solely for the purpose of auditing "tax expenditures," as the various tax breaks are known.
Predictably, the bill has drawn howls of opposition from business organizations, and the legislature must indeed carefully craft any legislation to limit the scope of the auditor's review of business tax returns to gathering tax-expenditure data. But the fact that 37 other states already grant the entity that performs their audit function access to this information demonstrates that it can be implemented without making a business that receives a tax break the victim of a public witch hunt.
...taxpayers deserve to know that any funds diverted from schools, transportation funding or other priorities are actually boosting the economy. Providing public auditors with the data to review those incentives is an important step toward providing that assurance.
Read more from Governing Magazine
Brockton Enterprise: State audit finds room for improvement at Easton Housing Authority
August 1, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Brockton Enterprise.
The town’s Housing Authority is improving, but still has room to make progress, a state audit found.
The previous audit, performed in 2012, found several deficiencies, including credit card misuse, no employee reimbursement policy and a flawed tenant selection process, state Auditor Suzanne Bump said.
“The Easton Housing Authority administration should be proud of its progress,” Bump said in a statement. “This review highlights the commitment the authority has made to providing quality services to the residents they serve.”
Read more from the Brockton Enterprise.
Boston Globe: Worcester State University audit finds lax oversight of funds, property
July 21, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Boston Globe.
Worcester State University lacks oversight of its property and does not follow procedures for how certain funds should be spent, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
The report by the office of state Auditor Suzanne Bump, covering fiscal years 2013 and 2014, identified three areas where the college can improve internal controls over its money and property. It did not find inappropriate use of public resources.
Read more from the Boston Globe.
7/21/15 - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Commonwealth Magazine: DCR 2.0
July 7, 2014 - The following content was originally published in Commonwealth Magazine.
In late 2011, the commissioner of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation said the agency’s system for leasing public land was in disrepair, with many tenants enjoying sweetheart deals, rents going uncollected, and the expiration dates of many leases ignored. Then-commissioner Ed Lambert called the lease situation a significant problem, one that needed to be addressed over the next year.
Lambert called in state Auditor Suzanne Bump to conduct a review, which set in motion a process that ultimately led to hiring a consultant to develop an automated system that would tell state officials everything about a lease, including whether the account is current or past due and when the lease is about to expire.
And he also committed to getting tough on those who try to skate by without paying the state what they owe. “If you have to pay, you have to pay,” he said. “The rules are the rules.”
Now, more than three years later, the lease system is still very much a work in progress. Agency officials are trying to put systems in place to keep track of existing leases even as they juggle how to deal with new leases or agreements about to expire.
The state auditor made 12 recommendations in her report and DCR officials say three of the suggestions have been fully implemented, seven are being worked on, and two haven’t been addressed yet.
A consultant was hired in April last year to develop the automated lease monitoring system, but agency officials say they don’t know when it will be finished.
Read more from Commonwealth Magazine.
Governing Magazine: The Causes, Costs and Consequences of Bad Government Data
June 24, 2015 - The following content excerpt was originally published by Governing Magazine.
In many states there is minimal sharing of data between technology systems that are run by separate agencies or even separate programs within the same agency. In Louisiana, for example, there has been resistance to building data warehouses in which data could be shared. "Everyone is proprietary over their systems," says Catherine Lyles, a senior auditor in the state.
The disadvantages of such data silos are many. Most obviously, the ability to coordinate services is limited. Shouldn't the mental health department, for example, know what's happening to someone who is receiving mental health assistance within the Office of Aging and Adult Services? And vice versa?
One reason often cited for a resistance to sharing is that state or federal laws mandate privacy for individual pieces of data. This is valid in some cases, but when state attorneys general look into the situation, they often find fewer legal impediments to sharing data than they anticipated. It's just a handy excuse.
Massachusetts' state auditor, Suzanne Bump, has a skeptical take on why some agencies are resistant to sharing their data.
In her view, these agencies don't want to share simply because they don't want to reveal how little they understand about the data they keep.
Read more from Governing Magazine.
Boston Herald: Editorial: Failing this checkup
June 22, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Boston Herald.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump says MassHealth, the state agency that provides health care coverage for the poor, wasted $500 million in duplicative and unnecessary payments for medical services over a five-year period. But MassHealth insists it really only shelled out $60 million that it wasn’t required to.
...Bump’s recent audit of MassHealth’s managed care program shines a light on what tends to be a rather dark place — the internal controls of a massive government bureaucracy....Whether it’s food stamps, unemployment or MassHealth — where Bump has previously identified costly administrative shortcomings — the state too often has proven unequal to the task of responsible management.
Read more from the Boston Herald.
NECN: Broadside: Major Medicaid Overpayments?
June 17, 2015 - The following content originally aired on NECN.
Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump discusses the findings that over five years, $500 million was spent on improper or unnecessary payments and $233 million was spent in duplicate payments for services.
Watch all of Auditor Bump's interview here.
Boston Globe: State audit finds Medicaid spent $500m needlessly
June 16, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Boston Globe.
The state’s Medicaid program spent more than $500 million over five years on improper or unnecessary payments, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump asserts that the state paid for services that should have been covered by the health insurers it contracts with to manage care. “It is troubling to see this amount of inefficiency,” Bump said.
The $500 million amounts to about 1 percent of total Medicaid spending over the five-year period studied, Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2014.
Bump said Tuesday’s findings represented the largest amount of questionable payments the auditor’s office has detected in 27 years.
Read more from the Boston Globe
6/1615 - Boston Herald
6/16/15 - Springfield Republican
6/16/15 - NECN
6/16/15 - Boston Business Journal
6/16/15 - AP
6/16/15 - WWLP
6/16/15 - WWLP
6/16/15 - Boston Magazine
6/17/15 - Modern Healthcare
Journal of Government Financial Management: Powering Up: How We Began with Data Analytics
Summer 2015: The following content was written by State Auditor Suzanne Bump, and was originally published by the Association of Government Accountants.
If you were a government auditor, wouldn’t you see more value in evaluating the spending dynamics of an entire agency than the documentation for specific transactions? Wouldn’t you like to access and organize information from entire databases and rely less on sampling? Wouldn’t you want to have confidence that your audit scope was pursuing the riskiest areas for fraud, waste and poor service delivery?
Developing our capacity to perform data analytics is enabling us to do this.
When I took office in 2011, modernizing the technology in the Office of the Massachusetts State Auditor (OSA) was among my goals. I saw that bringing advanced data analytics to our performance auditing and fraud investigations would add value to the office and the public. How I would achieve this was much less clear. A top-down approach would likely fail to engage professionals in the outcome; and, it wouldn’t generate the cultural transformation I wanted to achieve. I decided on a more organic approach. I tasked my IT unit with assembling a team of independent consultants and existing staff to define and expand OSA’s data analytics capabilities.
The route we took to understand the potential of data analytics, and to build our capacities is changing how employees view and perform their jobs. Introducing data analytics has changed how the entire staff utilizes critical thinking skills. It has diversified the skills we seek when hiring and promoting staff.
Step by Step, Phase by Phase
In 2011, much of the technology at the OSA rested on processes that mimicked manual methods. Audit selection and scheduling was driven by staff availability, geography and the auditee’s prior audit history. Auditors relied on auditees to provide data, which was time consuming and often confrontational. Fraud investigators could only look into individual cases, based on agency referrals. They could not detect broad patterns of abuse and fraud. The result was poor organizational efficiency and impact, a situation at odds with our accountability mission.
We agreed data analytics could help unlock our potential, but we couldn’t agree on what data analytics was!
Fourteen staffers and independent consultants labored to establish a common vocabulary and identified:
- Data mining opportunities across the enterprise;
- Valuable data repositories within public and private sectors;
- Obstructions to these repositories or implementation of data mining; and
- Existing assets, including personnel, applications, data and equipment that could be used for data mining.
The amount of available data is staggering, so the goal is to narrow the information by identifying patterns that defy the norm. Once identified, patterns can be closely scrutinized. Clustering is the process of placing relevant objects into meaningful groups. Think of legitimate transactions as being solid or having mass. The absence of one or more procedural safeguards makes the transaction riskier, and thus have less mass. A transaction that lacks approval, does not comply with the business rules or contains conflicting information is less substantial. Fraudulent transactions have the least substance. The engine we wanted evaluates all transactions, scores them and clusters those that appear to lack the proper mass. The end result is a specific action plan for our audits and investigations, allowing staff to apply their performance expertise to much more information in a fraction of the time.
The project was divided into three phases, each with specific deliverables.
Data Analytics 1.0
Building a test environment and performing a pilot project — completed June 2013. Deliverables included:
nBlocks or sets of highly detailed data delivered to the audit teams;
nAudit and investigative teams’ feedback to improve algorithms for calculating data;
nAlgorithms, such as pattern recognition and automated risk scoring formulas, stored for reuse;
nGovernance Committee created; and
nInternal policies and procedures for data analytics implemented.
Data Analytics 2.0
Currently in progress, this phase concentrates on consolidating gains made to date, transferring knowledge from consultants to the OSA’s staff and improving engine design. Once complete, the OSA will have the following tools and skills in place:
- Fully-developed data analytics engine;
- Significant investment in training and development to increase staffs’ skill level;
- Expanded group of users trained in the use of the engine; and
- Specific sets of algorithms developed for use (and reuse) in typical audit testing and investigative processes.
Data Analytics 3.0
Phase three represents project completion: the engine will be finalized, written procedures and practices will be in place, and knowledge transfer will be complete — with acknowledgement that OSA data analytics efforts will continue to evolve as technology changes and the skill level of our staff increases. Current project deliverables include:
- A data analytics engine fully deployed across the OSA;
- Up to 40 power users trained and with direct access to the data analytics engine;
- Another group of users trained and given access to visualization tools allowing them to create powerful data presentations with the analytic output received from power users;
- Incorporation of predictive analytics to produce trends and projections; and
- Data management efforts including optimized data retrieval from a variety of currently incompatible sources.
Surpassing the most optimistic expectations, our team completed 14 distinct analytics projects by June 2013. Combined, the projects identified more than $20 million in questionable or inappropriate expenditures.
For example, while performing a data match between Social Security, the Department of Commerce and the program’s records auditors identified 1,164 cases where $2.39 million in services were provided to “deceased” individuals six to 27 months after their deaths; state aid of $662,000 had gone to individuals receiving benefits under two separate Social Security numbers; and $359,000 had gone to individuals whose Social Security number was being used by more than one individual.1
Changing How We Work
Beyond increasing the dollar value and policy impact of our end product, data analytics is making us a more efficient office. We now employ a robust, risk-based model in audit selection, scheduling, and scope. For each potential auditee, elements include:
- An established audit identification model with numerated risk scores;
- A subjective “soft risk model” that accounts for non-transactional risk factors within an agency;
- A rules-based risk model that identifies transactional risks across a number of data repositories using business-based rules, logic and measurements; and
- An advanced algorithmic model that identifies auditee risks based on statistical measurements and mathematical models of risk.
Scores from each model are generated and exported from our system into a third-party audit planning tool. Within this application, we are able to add or blend scores from one or more of our models into a total aggregate risk score for each auditee. Auditees with the highest risk scores are those with the perceived highest risk for fraud and abuse.
In addition, analytics allows our staff who investigate cases of public benefit recipient fraud to examine large databases and identify high-risk transactions and behaviors. This promotes proactive fraud identification and investigations. Previously, the unit had to wait for external referrals before launching an investigation. Now our investigators can identify not just individual cases of fraud, but also (by observing trends and outliers) rings of fraud activity that may include dozens of suspects.
Access to data allows the OSA to rely less on auditees to provide the information needed for the audit. Often this was a long process, as the audit team’s data requests were not prioritized over routine operational tasks. In other cases, the relationship between the auditors and auditees has been contentious. Both these scenarios have been mitigated through analytics. Additionally, we are now able to periodically assess the impact of our work after an audit is complete.
Getting access, however, proved to be surprisingly challenging. Some requests have taken months — even years — to complete. Each agency or entity has its own data security requirements, and some question the need for data to be released. The time required to scrub the received data before it can be stored and easily accessed and analyzed by staff is another temporal factor.
Making Government Work Better
Analytics provides a major step toward providing statewide solutions. Overall, the use of analytics has increased OSA’s efficiency, by enabling us to focus our attention on the data that matters most, and its effectiveness in identifying root causes of misspending or poor service delivery.
Data analytics has changed the landscape of the OSA, and this technology has promoted new strategies. The OSA has begun to reengineer time-consuming, older processes and implement more responsive and efficient methods. Data analytics is intended to help auditors, investigators and researchers identify the areas where their professional judgment will be most useful, not to replace that judgment. The OSA professionals are the necessary alchemists who use their expertise to transform raw data into findings. Our success is largely due to the deep collaboration among design, development and operation teams.
Ultimately, we hope that gains for our office will result in gains for others. We hope others within the Commonwealth will collaborate with us to enhance our collective IT capacity. We hope our more advanced audits and recommendations will benefit agencies and their administration of public services. And, we hope the people of the Commonwealth will see progress and improvement as the result of our work.
Copyright 2015. Association of Government Accountants. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Brockton Enterprise: State: Brockton nonprofit ‘improperly’ documented alcohol, tobacco purchases
May 19, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Brockton Enterprise.
One of the region’s largest nonprofits failed to adequately document $1.4 million in services and improperly charged $18,593 for restaurant meals, alcohol and tobacco, according to a state audit.
Auditor Suzanne Bump released the results of a 10-month review of Brockton Area Multi-Services Inc. last Thursday. The audit looked at activities and spending at the social service agency from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2013.
Anthony Simonelli, CEO of BAMSI, said in response that his organization has pledged to improve certain documentation practices, but denied that BAMSI spent state money inappropriately.
Read more from the Brockton Enterprise
Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump Visits Worcester State University
May 13, 2015 - The following content was originally published on the Worcester State University website.
Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump recently visited Worcester State University to share her story of becoming the first female State Auditor in Massachusetts’s history and to talk with students about politics, world experiences, and volunteer service.
“Working together is key,” said Auditor Bump, recalling her personal experiences of working with those whose opinions she did not agree with. She also emphasized the importance of listening to the opinions of others and considering alternative views, and how these life skills have positively influenced her career.
Read more from Worcester State University student Kayleigh Berger.
Springfield Republican: Fighting welfare fraud - state Auditor Suzanne Bump wants subpoena power
May 27, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump is asking for subpoena power to use in welfare fraud investigations.
Bump filed a bill, which is pending before the Legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary, that would give her office's Bureau of Special Investigations administrative subpoena authority - the same power to compel documents that the state currently has in other civil proceedings.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
Boston Globe: Opinion: Without Pacheco Law, can we trust the MBTA to undertake privatization?
May 7, 2015 - The following content is from an Opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which was originally published on bostonglobe.com.
The “Pacheco Law” has been cited as an obstacle to the goal of a more efficient, less costly mass transit system for Boston. As the state official charged with ensuring that plans for having private companies run certain government operations meet the requirements of that law, I find such statements baffling.
If government is to act more like a business, as I believe it should, then long-range planning, effective allocation of assets, and a focus on outcomes should be among management’s priorities. Too often across state government, not just at the MBTA, this is not the case. Our audits illustrate that many agencies poorly manage resources and operations and lack the wherewithal to engage in continuous improvement. Too rarely are operational decisions based on rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Sometimes political philosophy or raw politics dictate how agencies serve their public.
When a government operation is privatized, taxpayers are still on the hook. The private company gets paid for doing the work formerly done by state employees. In the interest of accountability, the Pacheco Law ensures that taxpayers and consumers of government services benefit from privatization.
WBZ: Keller @ Large: Auditor Suzanne Bump on Government Accountability
May 3, 2015 - The following content originally appeared on WBZ-TV.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump sat down with WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller to talk about government accountability and sexism in politics.
Watch both parts of Auditor Bump's interview here.
Springfield Republican: Massachusetts auditor: MassHealth improperly paid $3.5 million to personal care attendents
April 23, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
A new audit by Massachusetts auditor Suzanne Bump identified $3.5 million in questionable, unallowable or potentially fraudulent medical claims for personal care attendants, paid through Massachusetts' Medicaid program.
Most of the improper spending - $3.3 million - came from MassHealth reimbursing personal care attendants for taking care of around 450 patients who were already receiving 24-hour care through an adult foster care program. Bump wrote that MassHealth should put in place safeguards to make sure that it is not double-paying by paying for both foster care and a personal care attendant.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
Springfield Republican: State auditor: Homeless programs costing communities $13 million annually
April 22, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
Local communities are losing $13 million annually in lost tax revenue and increased education costs in coping with two state homeless programs, according to a report released Wednesday by the state auditor.
Auditor Suzanne Bump estimated those costs to surpass $24 million by the end of fiscal year 2016.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
4/22/15 - Patriot Ledger
4/22/15 - Salem News
4/22/15 - Springfield Republican (Holyoke)
4/22/15 - Springfield Republican (Chicopee)
4/22/15 - Springfield Republican (Springfield)
4/22/15 - Springfield Republican
4/22/15 - WWLP
4/23/15 - MetroWest Daily News
4/24/15 - Greenfield Recorder
4/24/15 - Springfield Republican (Greenfield)
4/26/15 - Brockton Enterprise
OSA takes over AEA365 to explain large scale evaluations
March 13, 2015
For one week, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) allowed the Massachusetts Office of the State to submit daily articles related to our Chapter 224 Evaluation Work. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Each post was originally published on AEA's blog, AEA365. The week of posts detailed important aspects of conducting a a large scale evaluation. Below is a summary of those posts. Please click each title to read the full submission.
Conducting such a large and complex evaluation required the development of a comprehensive evaluation plan capturing all essential pieces of the law. The evaluation design needed to structure all the different topic areas into a logical and concise plan that guides all activities performed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and data analytic experts. We proposed a longitudinal mixed-methods quasi-experimental design for the evaluation, aiming to determine the law’s impact on health care costs, access to health care services and quality of care, the health care workforce, and the impact on public health. Another important task to address in the evaluation plan is collecting and securing relevant data that will allow the team to perform both quantitative and qualitative analysis.
In order to capture the broad perspectives of key stakeholders and integrate them with the quantitative analysis, we developed a longitudinal mixed-methods quasi-experimental design for our work in this complex evaluation. This mixed-methods approach is designed to answer Chapter 224 high-level evaluation questions. Activities include:
- open-ended semi-structured interviews through an online survey with key stakeholders.
- In-depth semi-structured interviews as follow-up with selected key stakeholders based on their responses to the online survey.
- face-to-face in-depth semi-structured interviews to explore selected stakeholders interpretation of the quantitative analysis results
For our Chapter 224 work, we are in various stages of accessing and securing data. These data sets include administrative data (e.g. the All Payer Claims Database (APCD) from the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) and survey data such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) from the MA Department of Public Health. In this post we shared some lessons we have learned.
Using administrative data with a significant number of missing key variables (e.g. race/ethnicity) can be challenging in trying to answer specific evaluation questions. One of our research questions seeks to evaluate the impact of Chapter 224 on racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes. Both administrative data sets available to us (the Massachusetts Medicaid Program (MassHealth) and the All Payer Claims Database (APCD)) have sparsely populated information about race and/or ethnicity. Since we were not able to apply imputation techniques due to the large number of missing values, we have to use alternative methods. As a proxy for race/ethnicity data, we used US Census Bureau Data and GIS mapping software.
A strategy that has been used successfully to investigate the effect of policy changes over time on population outcomes is Interrupted Time-Series (e.g. Ramsey, et al., 2003). Since our project requires us to collect multiple data points previous to the implementation of the Chapter 224 law, as well as several points after, Interrupted Time-Series, for aggregate data, will allow us to determine whether the health care costs containment intervention has an effect significantly greater than a secular trend. By using this method, we will be primarily testing the change in the slope of data trends as a function of Chapter 224.
In order to implement a comprehensive evaluation on the impact of Chapter 224, our research team is committed to find the most effective statistical procedures to use in order to create a solid baseline that can lead to a sound quantitative analysis of the entire longitudinal project. One of the procedures we found useful is predictive modeling.
Predictive modeling is a process of fitting a statistical model based on existing relationships among variables and making an informed prediction for future behavior(s). In our study, a primary goal is to find the trend or pattern of our variables using a number of data points before the implementation of Chapter 224 (prior to implementation in 2012) as a baseline. We then use the parameter estimates of the baseline to predict the values after 2013. A solid baseline with predicted values will be compared with the actual data once we conclude the longitudinal quantitative analysis.
Given the wide scope of the Chapter 224 evaluation project, the research team needed to tap into the healthcare community for its advice, perspectives, and feedback. To this end, we assembled an advisory committee comprised of members from the health insurance industry, health care advocates, academia, labor, and professional organizations to gain diverse input.
In addition, stakeholders will be included as research participants in qualitative interviews complementing the quantitative component of the study. Stakeholders who belong to task forces, councils, commissions, agencies, boards and other groups associated with the enactment of Chapter 224 will be asked to participate in a brief on-line survey to assess initial observations and concerns related to the roll out of Chapter 224 legislation.
Boston Herald: Mass. didn’t pursue fed funds to cover inmate medical costs
February 27, 2015: The following content was originally published by the Boston Herald.
The state failed to pursue more than $11.6 million in federal reimbursements it could have received for prison inmate health care over a two-year period, according to a state audit released yesterday.
“The Legislature has required MassHealth to take full advantage of available federal reimbursement for inmate medical costs,” State Auditor Suzanne Bump said in a statement, “and now we know how much it is expected to save.”
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3/2/15 - Boston Herald: Editorial
Auditor Bump Participates in Go Red for Women
February 4, 2015
Auditor Bump joined Massachusetts legislators to raise awareness about heart disease at the Go Red for Women event sponsored by the Caucus of Women Legislators at the State House.
Herald News OP-ED: Suzanne Bump: Honored to continue my work as state auditorJanuary 14, 2015: This content was originally published in the Herald News.
When most people think of the office of the State Auditor, they think of how we protect taxpayers by accounting for state revenues. They are not likely to link the office to improvements in education, transportation, or child welfare; nor might they think about it as a catalyst for reforms that improve public housing, prevent and detect public benefits fraud, or protect students in occupational schools. Yet, these things occur in the state auditor’s office today.
The opportunity to make government work better is what drives us. Whether a state agency’s mission is to protect kids, provide public assistance, or police the medical profession, our goal is to help it improve its use of public resources and deliver better results.
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Springfield Republican: War on Poverty: How much welfare fraud is there in Massachusetts?
February 4, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
How widespread is welfare fraud in Massachusetts?
The office of Auditor Suzanne Bump is in charge of investigating and preventing fraud in public assistance programs through its Bureau of Special Investigations.
"Frankly, welfare fraud is not a lot of dollars. When you consider that in the context of not just the budget, but even in the context of the welfare programs, welfare fraud is not that big a problem," Bump told The Republican/MassLive.com.
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Springfield Republican: Springfield to save $1.3 million by refinancing debt
January 14, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
The city of Springfield expects to save $1.36 million between now and 2026 by refinancing old debt.
The state's Municipal Finance Oversight Board, which is chaired by state auditor Suzanne Bump, on Wednesday unanimously approved a request by Springfield to refinance $55 million in debt.
The debt was taken on in 2007 and paid for 20 municipal projects – including water and sewer projects, the purchase of financial software, energy improvements, land acquisition, demolition, library upgrades and school renovations.
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