Boston Globe: Special needs agencies faulted
August 31, 2011
More than two decades of failed oversight have allowed the state's special education collaboratives to misspend millions of taxpayer dollars, according to the state auditor's office, which has found a pattern of excessive salaries, conflicts of interest, and possible pension law violations at six of the 30 publicly funded agencies.
"These common findings are indicative of a system that's lacking in standards and oversight and is easily manipulated by folks who are not putting the interests of taxpayers and special needs kids first," Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said yesterday.
Bump, who plans to release the two most recent audits today, said the laws and policies for state oversight of the special education agencies are badly outdated, clouding the state's authority over them. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has not revised its policy governing the collaboratives since 1988, while the state law allowing cities and towns to create them is more than 30 years old.
"The [state] clearly needs to have its current authority clarified and will need additional authority as well to provide the kind of oversight that most of us would expect," Bump said.
Auditor Bump Calls for Broad Reform of Education Collaboratives
August 31, 2011
Citing audit findings that reveal widespread problems with education collaboratives, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today called for broad-based reforms to address mismanagement and improper spending as well as to improve state and local oversight of the Commonwealth’s 30 education collaboratives.
Auditor Bump said the reforms, which include legislative and regulatory changes, are necessary steps to ensure collaboratives operate to the highest standards in delivering regional educational services for member school districts and thousands of special needs students.
Press Release: Auditor Bump Calls for Broad Reform of Education Collaboratives
Recommendation: Collaborative Reform Recommendations
Audit Report: Merrimack Special Education Collaborative
Audit Report: Southeastern Massachusetts Educational Collaborative
Audit Report: READS Collaborative
Auditor Bump and Audit Mgr. Paul Albano Meet with Western MA Media at OSA Chicopee Office
August 25, 2011
Auditor Bump answers questions from Springfield-area media outlets regarding the findings of a five year audit of the Northeast Center for Youth and Families which identified more than $1.2 million in questionable or unallowable expenses.
Auditor’s Office Finds Western Mass Provider Mismanaged $1 Million in Public Funds
August 25, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Northeast Center for Youth and Families, Inc. (NCYF) which detailed the misuse of more than $1 million in public funds over a five year period.
Auditors found that NCYF overbilled the Department of Youth Services $651,221 for two foster care programs, failed to monitor services provided by paid consultants, maintained questionable staff bonus guidelines and let its worker’s compensation insurance lapse.
NYCF also used program subsidies inappropriately to fund severance packages and pay off losses incurred by programs the center ran in other states.
Auditor Bump Attends NASACT Annual Conference
August 19, 2011
Auditor Bump joined government officials from across the country at the 96th National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers annual conference in Burlington, Vermont.
Auditor Bump served as a moderator for a panel discussion on “Government Reform Initiatives During Economic Crisis.” The panel featured speakers Christina Dorfhuber (Principal of Public Sector Strategy and Operations at Deloitte), Anna Maria Kiehl (Pennsylvania Chief Accounting Officer), and Thomas M. Salmon (Vermont State Auditor). The panel discussed the results of strategic changes in policy and organizational structure that governments have implemented to address economic challenges.
Auditor’s Office ID’s $1 Million in Public Assistance Fraud
August 18, 2011
In a quarterly progress report issued today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said examiners with the office’s Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) completed investigations of 1,274 people accused of defrauding the state and documented over a million dollars of illegal activity in obtaining public assistance benefits and services during the final three months of the state’s fiscal year.
Auditor Bump said BSI examiners identified 163 people who tried to cheat the state out of welfare, food stamps, childcare services, health care benefits, public housing or cash assistance.
“Every dollar that’s paid out in a fraudulent claim, means one less dollar for those who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Auditor Bump. “BSI examiners identify millions of dollars in fraud every year.”
Auditor Bump Finds Overall Improvement at Chelmsford Housing Authority
August 17, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit, which showed the Chelmsford Housing Authority was able to improve maintenance issues in the development and secure state funding for improvements. However, the report also revealed a few accounting problems at the Authority.
A 2008 audit criticized the authority for continued noncompliance with the state sanitary code in maintaining siding and renovating kitchens in its housing units. The authority maintained that it did not address the two issues because the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) denied its funding requests. A review of operations between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010 showed the authority has addressed these maintenance issues and has secured DHCD funding for repairs for the next three years.
Today’s audit also acknowledged some deficiencies at the authority. The audit revealed that the authority did not maintain an up-to-date inventory listing of its furniture and equipment. Updated and inventory lists provide assurances that the authority’s property is safeguarded against theft or misuse.
Press Release: Auditor Bump Finds Overall Improvement at Chelmsford Housing Authority
Audit Report: Chelmsford Housing Authority
The Salem News: Accounting flaws found at NSCAP
August 11, 2011
Shoddy accounting practices at North Shore Community Action Programs Inc. may have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, according to a state audit released this week.
The audit, which covers July 1, 2007 through the end of 2009, found that the publicly funded social services agency could not account for $627,000 in costs such as salaries and property expenses, because those expenses were not documented correctly.
According to the audit, NSCAP allocated a certain percentage of its expenses to each of its various state-funded programs, but there doesn't appear to be a clear written plan for how or why it allocated certain amounts. Further, NSCAP never got state permission to use that particular accounting method and bucked state guidelines by allocating budgeted, not actual, expenses to its programs.
Auditor Bump's Statement on the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative
August 10, 2011
Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released the following statement on the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative:
"The audit that we are conducting of the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative is in the final stages of preparations for its release. In order to preserve the integrity of our auditing process, the Auditor’s Office does not comment on any audit until its public release. It is standard practice to send a draft copy of our findings to an auditee to give them an opportunity to respond to any findings. The response could ultimately result in changes to the audit."
Auditor Bump Releases Audit of North Shore Community Action Programs
August 8, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of North Shore Community Action Programs, Inc. (NSCAP), a human services provider serving 26 cities and towns on the North Shore. The audit found that NSCAP improperly used thousands of dollars in state funds to provide management services for a Beverly non-profit, which NSCAP partnered with to provide emergency shelter for homeless men. Today’s audit report found that the fee charged by the River House shelter does not fully cover the cost of services NSCAP provides. Instead, NSCAP made up for the difference with funds from other state contracts, which violates state regulations. Furthermore, NSCAP was owed over $66,000 in outstanding fees from River House.
“This partnership provides important services to low income and homeless residents on the North Shore,” said Auditor Bump. "In the case of River House, NSCAP says it was trying to meet a legitimate community need, but they did so without authorization and failed to properly account for state funds. Additionally the audit found other finance and governance issues which must be addressed."
Press Release: Auditor Bump Releases Audit of North Shore Community Action Programs
Audit Report: North Shore Community Action Programs, Inc.
Boston Globe: Let’s do more than talk tough
August 6, 2011
Medicaid fraud, which is both widespread and hard to detect, has become an obsession of law enforcement in some states. But not in Massachusetts.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump says she is determined to do something about that.
“I really have two concerns,’’ she said. “The reality of shrinking dollars demands that every dollar be accounted for and well spent, and my other concern is people’s confidence in government.’’