090715 - 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Suzanne Bump says issues of a lack of collaboration between agencies, weak policies and procedures, and unreliable or outdated data cited in last week's state report how 7-year-old Jack Loiselle of Hardwick ended up in a coma while his family was under state supervision are no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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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.
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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.”
Read more from the Boston Herald
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.
Read more from the Springfield Republican