For Immediate Release - December 07, 2011

Worcester Probate and Family Court Register's Senior Aide Works for Multiple Paychecks While on the Clock

Auditor Bump uncovers several areas of lax accountability

BOSTON, MA – State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump released an audit today of the Worcester Probate and Family Court (WPFC) which uncovered a top aide to the Register of Probate working multiple jobs while on the clock at the court.

The audit details that the Register of Probate’s Head Administrative Assistant (HAA) taught 21 courses between the spring 2009 and fall 2010 semester at three institutions of higher education, seven of which during times when WPFC attendance records indicated that the individual was working at the court. Despite normal working hours for WPFC employees being between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., the HAA was teaching courses scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The audit notes that while some classes were held at 5:30 p.m., the time needed to travel from the WPFC to class locations would have required the HAA to leave work before the end of the normal work day. No leave time was documented to account for these absences.

The HAA is currently paid $65,391 annually and was compensated between $3,000 and $4,000 for teaching each course.

Furthermore, the audit revealed the individual serving as the HAA was performing only a fraction of the job’s required duties. According to collective bargaining agreements, the HAA is required to perform 19 different duties, including such higher level tasks as preparing the annual budget and acting as the court’s purchasing agent. The HAA during the audit period only performed three of the required duties; supporting the department head, serving on various committees and advisory groups, and performing lower-level duties (e.g., transporting bank deposits).

The individual payroll discrepancy is one of the audit’s several findings calling into question the Register of Probate’s accountability mechanisms.

In the audit Auditor Bump noted that the Register of Probate’s Office failed to properly record the times employees signed out to leave each day, despite explicit regulations from the Administrative Office of the Trial Court to do so.

“Performing simple tasks such as punching the clock at the beginning and end of each workday is more than a mundane ritual,” said Auditor Bump. “It’s about having a proper attendance system so the public can have safe assurance that their government is doing what it’s supposed to.”

The audit also noted the inability of the Register of Probate’s office to locate over $3,000 in collected fees, a failure to report the missing money, and divergence from procedures when issuing fee waivers.

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 Audit Report: Worcester Probate and Family Court pdf format of    Worcester Probate and Family Court