Auditor Bump Finds Mixed Results at Office of the Jury Commissioner
BOSTON - State Auditor Suzanne Bump reported today that an audit of the Office of the Jury Commissioner (OJC) found both improvements and a few outstanding concerns.
A 2008 audit of the OJC contained several recommendations for the agency to improve its operations. Today’s audit finds that in three instances the OJC acted on those recommendations.
- The annual Master Juror List is created with information gathered from the annual Massachusetts Census. In an attempt to improve the juror selection process, the 2008 audit recommended that the OJC consider using multiple sources (e.g., Registry of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue) to expand the pool of possible jurors. The OJC did participate in a legislative working group to explore new options, but ultimately decided to continue solely relying on Census information.
- Regarding the value of time for jurors, the prior audit found the OJC needed to use jurors more efficiently. As a result, the OJC developed and implemented a list of new “best practices” in 2009 and efficiency has improved. In 2010, 58,000 fewer would-be jurors appeared in court than in 2008 and the number of days jurors appeared at a court without being used decreased.
- Acting on audit recommendations, the OJC now has a documented set of policies and procedures to protect its resources against loss, theft, and abuse.
“The improvements made by the OJC as the result of our last audit has increased the efficiency of their work and reduced the amount of time needed by jurors to fulfill this important role in our judicial system,” said Auditor Bump. “I commend them for it.”
The audit notes that not all prior issues have been resolved. Specifically, the OJC has continually awarded an IT contract to the same contractor, Verity Consulting Company, Inc. (Verity), without using a competitive procurement process or obtaining a complete project plan for the contractor’s work. On average the OJC pays Verity $260,000 annually for its services. In a written response to the audit findings, the OJC stated it is hiring in-house staff to replace Verity’s contracted services.
In addition, the audit found the OJC lacked procedures for timely deactivation of computer network user accounts held by former employees and recommended that it strengthen its rules on user passwords. In a written response, the OJC claims to have since addressed password concerns.
The Office of the Jury Commissioner is the judicial branch agency responsible for the random selection of potential jurors and the management and summoning of all trial and grand jurors in the Commonwealth.
The Office of the State Auditor Suzanne Bump conducts financial, performance, and technical assessments of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.