MetroWest Daily News: Framingham State violated stimulus guidelines with grants
May 28, 2011
Some Framingham State University students received financial aid from a school-run grant program based on need even though they did not meet eligibility guidelines, the state Auditor's Office says.
Auditor Suzanne Bump's audit of the university's use of federal stimulus money also criticized the school's decision to reimburse itself for financial aid that was distributed through the FSU Student Fee Grant. Framingham State had $500,000 in federal stimulus money set aside exclusively for student financial aid during the audit period.
According to the audit, Framingham State also lacked formal, written eligibility requirements and policies for administering the grants, based on guidelines from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Office of the State Comptroller.
"Without basic internal controls over the awarding of financial aid, the school incurs the risk that this valuable funding is not being properly expended," Bump said in a press release Thursday.
New Bedford Standard Times Editorial: Auditor's first steps are on the right track
May 26, 2011
When Suzanne M. Bump was sworn in as state auditor in January, she became the first new holder of the constitutional office in 24 years.
Bump had campaigned on raising the standards of transparency, accountability and effectiveness in the office that makes sure tax dollars are spent according to the rules.
Her impact on the office was immediate, ordering a peer review of the office even before she was sworn in. She cut 10 percent of the jobs in the office of about 300. And early this month, as a result of the peer review, another 27 employees were let go and a dozen reassigned.
Just cutting jobs isn't enough to say that change has come, but the work being done by the office since her arrival is.
With a professional, systematic approach to identifying and correcting weak spots in the auditing system, Bump is transforming the auditor's office, moving it in a direction that should give taxpayers some optimism.
State House News Service: Suffolk County holidays are unfunded mandates
May 26, 2011
Auditor Suzanne Bump has concluded that Suffolk County holidays Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day, recently modified by the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick, represent unfunded mandates, the News Service has learned.
A recent law preserved the holidays but required government offices to remain open on those days. In a memo to the mayor of Revere issued Wednesday, Bump said a law that took effect last July requiring state and local offices to be "open for business and appropriately staffed" on the two holidays forces cities and towns to pay collectively bargained overtime costs.
Auditor Bump Finds Questionable Use of ARRA Funds at Framingham State University
May 26, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit critical of Framingham State University’s (FSU) use of federal stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Auditors found that FSU used the funding to reimburse expenditures from the university’s Student Fee Grant Program, even though FSU did not have any formal written guidelines or criteria for awarding this grant money.
Auditor Bump Declares New Suffolk County Holiday Law an Unfunded Mandate for Municipalities
May 25, 2011
Acting on a formal request from Revere, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today announced that a change in the state law that requires all Suffolk County public offices to be open and staffed on Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day is an unfunded state mandate for communities in Suffolk County. The Auditor’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) noted that the new law forced Revere to pay 34 workers at a time-and- a-half rate to staff all city departments during the Evacuation Day holiday on March 17.
In its analysis of the fiscal impact on Revere, DLM found that holiday staffing for the library, water, elder affairs, veterans’ affairs, purchasing, legal, clerk’s, treasurer’s, assessor’s and collector’s departments will cost more than $40,000 over the next three years.
Patriot Ledger: Massachusetts district courts failing to go after more than $1 million
May 24, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump released a report today saying that one in four Massachusetts district court and Boston municipal courts disregarded state law by exempting some offenders from paying an increase in probation fees.
The report’s findings, which were based on a self-reporting survey, showed that nearly 26% of all 70 local courts did not assess $1.2 million in fees during fiscal year 2010.
Auditor Bump Finds Environmental Permitting Law an Unfunded Mandate for Local Communities
May 23, 2011
In an opinion with potential state-wide impact, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today announced that amendments to a 1987 environmental permitting law last year is an unfunded mandate that imposes unreasonable costs on three Massachusetts towns—Athol, Halifax and Leverett.
The Auditor’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) determined that the change in the law required communities to take over state responsibilities for evaluating site assignments for solid waste facilities and permitting small transfer stations, forcing municipalities to spend thousands of dollars on technical and environmental experts.
Press Release: Auditor Bump Finds Environmental Permitting Law an Unfunded Mandate for Local Communities
Letter: Town of Leverett: Regulations Requiring Local Evaluation of Solid Waste Facilities
Letter: Town of Athol: Regulations Requiring Local Evaluation of Solid Waste Facilities
Letter: Town of Halifax: Regulations Requiring Local Evaluation of Solid Waste Facilities
Auditor Bump Finds District Courts Fail to Assess $1.2 Million in Probation Fees
May 23, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released a statewide report which found that one in four Massachusetts District and Boston Municipal Courts disregarded state law by exempting some offenders from paying an increase in probation fees. The report’s findings, which were based on a self-reporting survey, showed that nearly 26% of all 70 courts did not assess $1.2 million in fees during fiscal year 2010.
Beginning in July 1, 2009, the Legislature doubled certain monthly probation fees and authorized the courts to retain the revenue to offset shortfalls in appropriations. Routine court audits, including one Auditor Bump also released today on Natick District Court, revealed that many courts chose not to impose the increase on existing probationers or those who had pre-paid the total fee. The statewide report confirmed that at least 18 courts were not assessing appropriate probation fees.
“These courts made a decision not to follow the law,” said Auditor Bump. “Not only did they forego an extra source of non-taxpayer revenue, the arbitrary collection of probation fees resulted in an inequitable application of the fee.”
Press Release: Auditor Bump Finds District Courts Fail to Assess $1.2 Million in Probation Fees
Special Report: Statewide Survey of the Implementation of the Increased Administrative Probation Fee at District Courts
Audit Report: Natick District Court
Channel 4 WBZ - Keller @ Large
MetroWest Daily News Editorial: Quick start for Bump
May 15, 2011
The problem with one-party government is that when complacency and low standards bog down a state agency, there's nobody to force change. Partisans tend to protect their own. So many voters - and editorial pages like this one - assumed last fall that Democrat Suzanne Bump would be unlikely to shake up the state auditor's office.
But those who assumed Bump's election meant a seamless continuation of Democrat Joe DeNucci's 24-year tenure should think again. Bump is off to a fast, and encouraging, start.
Bump promised during the campaign that her first act would be to request an independent, outside audit of the auditor's office. She did just that, and the National State Auditors Association delivered a blistering report. The staff was poorly trained and didn't meet minimum education standards. Annual performance reviews hadn't been done. There were gaping holes in some audits.
Bump responded by cleaning house. She fired 27 employees and demoted a dozen more. She eliminated another 31 support staff positions she deemed unnecessary. She has set new education standards and established a performance evaluation system.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Bump’s strong start
May 11, 2011
In a little over three months on the job, State Auditor Suzanne Bump has made strong initial moves toward the more effective, efficient and transparent auditing practices that she promised to pursue during last fall’s campaign. We applaud her efforts, which are all the more persuasive because she has begun by reforming practices within the auditor’s office itself.
The shakeup began shortly after Ms. Bump took office, with the layoff of some 30 employees deemed to be unnecessary. Then, last week, in the wake of a peer review report from the National State Auditors Association that showed widespread failures to meet government standards in key areas of the office’s operations, Ms. Bump made additional moves — firing 27 people, demoting 12 others, and promoting two.
In a meeting with the Telegram & Gazette’s editorial board yesterday, Ms. Bump said that her efforts to reform the office should not be seen as undermining the value of the audits and reports done under former auditor Joseph DeNucci.
Rather, she stressed the importance of having the office itself subject to the same stringent standards and close scrutiny that it demands when it audits others. Complying with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, she noted, means having a peer review every three years — something that hadn’t been done for 15 years under Mr. DeNucci.
Taunton Gazette: Taunton-based dentist collected more than $229K in unallowable claims
May 10, 2011
A Taunton-based dentist is one of two practitioners who are subjects in an investigation into unallowable reimbursements from the Massachusetts public health insurance program, according to the Office of the State Auditor.
An official audit report from the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump says Dr. Melvin M. Frankel, with an office at 106 Weir St., collected a total of $229,256 from MassHealth for unallowable claims for the period of July 1, 2005, through June 20, 2010.
Auditor Bump Cites Two Dentists for Overcharging Health Program
May 10, 2011
In an ongoing investigation into MassHealth dental provider claims, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today reported that two dentists have received more than $311,000 in unallowable reimbursements from the state’s insurance agency.
Dr. Melvin Frankel DMD of Taunton and Dr. Doreen Chong DDS of Boston billed MassHealth for approximately $4.9 million in orthodontic services for 2,514 patients over a five year period. Audits of their separate practices cited excessive x-ray charges, and in the case of Dr. Frankel, duplicate payments and reimbursements for services that were never performed on patients.
“These are two glaring examples of how health providers can reap undue monetary benefits from the MassHealth system at the cost of the taxpayer,” said Auditor Bump. “A more troubling question is why MassHealth didn’t catch these abuses.”
Press Release: Auditor Bump Cites Two Dentists for Overcharging Health Program
Audit Report: Review of Claims Submitted for MassHealth by the Office of Dr. Melvin M. Frankel, DMD
Audit Report: Review of Claims Submitted to MassHealth by the Office of Dr. Doreen Chong, DDS
Salem News Editorial: Bump makes clear there's a new auditor in town
May 9, 2011
Turns out the state auditor's office needed a thorough going over, and it appears Suzanne Bump was the right person for the job.
Last summer in the waning days of his long tenure, then incumbent State Auditor Joseph DeNucci granted members of his staff 5 percent raises. Bump, who had been endorsed by DeNucci for the Democratic nomination, declined to join others in criticizing the move, but said she would make a thorough review of the entire operation, including its staffing, if elected.
That review was conducted by the National State Auditors Association which, according to a statement from Bump's office last week, "issued a rare adverse report (which) found that the office's system of quality control did not conform to government auditing standards because of deficiencies in audit planning, staff competence, audit documentation and audit reporting."
Auditor Suzanne Bump on WGBH's Greater Boston
Boston Herald Editorial: Bring in the pros
May 5, 2011
Imagine a police force where some of the members hadn’t been to the police academy, didn’t get on-the-job training and never underwent performance evaluations. A national organization has found the bureaucratic equivalent of that scenario in the state auditor’s office.
Yes, in this era of dwindling government resources, when every state agency should be operating at maximum efficiency, it seems no one has spent much time watching the watchdogs. But after campaigning on a pledge to introduce a new era of professionalism and accountability in state government, first-term Auditor Suzanne Bump is officially lowering the boom.
05/06/2011 - Boston Globe
05/05/2011 - NECN Broadside with Jim Braude
05/05/2011 - WBZ Radio
05/05/2011 - WBUR
05/05/2011 - State House News Service
05/05/2011 - Commonwealth Magazine
05/05/2011 - Blue Mass Group
Auditor Bump Unveils Sweeping Reforms of Office
May 5, 2011
As part of her plan to achieve excellence in government auditing, Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today initiated a major reform plan that impacts nearly every aspect of audit operations from staffing levels to audit planning. Auditor Bump also released the findings of an independent professional review that she requested from the National State Auditors Association. This report as well as an internal staff performance assessment formed the basis of her efforts to reform the office.
“These reforms are designed to improve the effectiveness of our work, commit to a professional workforce, and above all put into place a vigorous quality assurance system,” said Auditor Bump. “We can’t expect the state agencies we audit or the public to have confidence in the office if we don’t operate at the highest professional levels.”
Press Release: Auditor Bump Unveils Sweeping Reforms of Office
Action Plan: A Look Forward: Excellence in Auditing
Special Report: 2011 Peer Review Opinion Report file size 1MB
Special Report: 2011 Peer Review Letter of Comments file size 3MB
Housing authority legislation: Improving efficiency, limiting fraud, saving money
May 3, 2011
Deputy Auditor of Legal and Policy Gerald McDonough appears before the Joint Committee on Housing to support House Bill 7, An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the State Auditor Relative to Rent Fraud in State Public Housing. The Auditor’s Office wrote and filed the bill.
House Bill 7 would eliminate the need for local housing authorities to use two different methods to verify tenant income and would enhance the ability of local housing authorities to verify public housing tenant income by adopting federal standards, and would also allow local housing authorities to refer cases of suspected fraud to BSI for investigation.
In his testimony, Deputy Auditor McDonough said, “enacting House Bill 7 would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public housing, increase the likelihood that only qualified applicants receive public housing, and save taxpayers money.”
Auditor Bump Testimony: Auditing the Commonwealth’s subcontractors
May 3, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump testified today before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight in support of House Bill 5, An Act Relative to Vendor Contracts. The Auditor’s Office wrote and filed the bill.
Vendors and grantees who do business with the state do not always provide all services themselves and frequently enter into subcontracts with third-party entities. The law however does not specifically provide for review of these subcontracts. House Bill No.5 would clarify that these subcontracts are subject to review by the State Auditor, when a contract is funded by the taxpayers.
“As the new State Auditor I am intent upon raising the professional parameters under which we work to protect the taxpayers of the Commonwealth,” said Auditor Bump. “House Bill 5 would enhance our ability to perform our job as the state’s fiscal watchdog.”
Springfield Republican: Housing authority responds to audit
May 1, 2011
The Southwick Housing Authority has launched efforts to correct problems such as code violations and slow turnaround on rentals that were cited in a recent state audit of its property holdings.
Code violations being addressed involve peeling paint, damaged flooring, leaking roofs and missing ground-fault circuit interrupters in several apartments. The authority must also work to re-rent units sooner than the current 45-day average time, and it must establish additional oversight of its Local Tenant Organization.
The discrepancies are listed in an audit by state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump covering the period of July 1, 2008, through March 31, 2010. The report was released by Bump's office earlier this month.