Worcester Telegram:Audit finds unexpected surplus at Worcester-Webster special ed unit
July 31, 2012 - The following content was originally published by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette
A state audit of the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative turned up a multimillion surplus, failure to transition some employees from Social Security to the state retirement system, a lack of documentation around competitive bids and approximately $1,600 in unearned sick time, the state said today.
The audit comes as the state overhauls regulations of special education collaboratives after the state inspector general's allegations of severe financial misconduct at the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative.
The new regulations should address the problems in the audit, according to state Auditor Suzanne Bump.
Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative Overcharged Member Communities
July 31, 2012
An audit of the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative (CMSEC) issued today by State Auditor Suzanne Bump revealed the multi-community partnership charged its member school districts fees that exceeded the actual costs, resulting in a multi-million dollar surplus.
“The problems we found at the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative are typical of those found in past audits of the education collaborative system,” said Auditor Bump. “Our audits of collaboratives have provided the basis for meaningful reform. I hope this audit will continue to assist policy makers in strengthening the oversight and accountability of Education Collaboratives.”
Today’s audit shows that CMSEC, an association of Worcester and Webster school districts that is responsible for providing educational services to approximately 500 special needs students, was charging its member communities in excess of the programs’ actual cost, resulting in a surplus of more than $4.5 million. Guidelines set by both the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the Office of the Attorney General state that fees from a government agency should not exceed the actual cost of the service provided. Auditor Bump recommended that the collaborative amend its pricing methodology and establish an appropriate method to remit surplus funds to its member districts.
The report also highlighted CMSEC’s failure to properly administer its retirement benefit program. In 1985, non-teaching Massachusetts education collaborative employees were prohibited from further participating in Social Security and instead were required to enroll in the state’s retirement system. However, the audit found that CMSEC never transitioned employees from Social Security to the state system and, as a result, denied some employees the opportunity to receive thousands in additional annual retirement income.
Boston Globe: State bond plan saves cities costs
July 26, 2012 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Globe
Salem will be saving an estimated $425,000 in interest costs by making use of a Massachusetts program that allows approved cities and towns to use the state’s bond rating when borrowing money for projects.
The Massachusetts Municipal Finance Oversight Board on July 11 approved Salem’s application to issue $62.02 million in long-term “qualified bonds” through the program to fund two school projects and other capital improvements.
At the same meeting, the board authorized Methuen to issue $2.3 million in qualified bonds under the same program for various equipment purchases, including a fire truck.
The state program is designed for communities and regional school districts that need to borrow money and have a lower bond rating than that of the state. By using the state’s bond rating, they are able to save on interest costs.
Springfield Republican: Holyoke Community College cited in state audit
July 25, 2012 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican
A recent state audit revealed that Holyoke Community College had inadequate controls to protect equipment and property from theft or misuse.
That audit, from July 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011 listed the theft of nine computers with a combined value of more than $18,000 and another five computers, valued at $6,469 could not be found on campus.
The audit determined that HCC’s electronic inventory was out of date and non-compliant with state and college policies. It also determined that the college lacked documentation on disbursement and use of gasoline used by its maintenance and security staff.
William J. Fogarty, HCC vice president for administration and finance, acknowledged the audit and its findings saying “We take very seriously our role as custodian of public assets funded by the taxpayers and our students and the state audit provides an opportunity to improve our performance. There are always things we can do to improve and our controls were not at the level they should have been.”
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump, who released the findings Wednesday said that the college has responded “positively to all findings.”
July 25, 2012
An audit of Holyoke Community College (HCC) released today by State Auditor Suzanne Bump revealed the college had inadequate controls to protect its property against theft, and that some stolen items were not reported to the Auditor, as required by Massachusetts law.
The audit found that HCC’s electronic inventory of property was out of date and non-compliant with both state regulations and its own policies. In audit tests, five pieces of computer equipment listed in the inventory with a value of $6,469 could not be located. In another test, 54 pieces of computer equipment with a value of $45,227 had not been documented in the inventory list.
Without a current and complete inventory HCC is exposed to potential loss, theft, or misuse of property.
Standard Times: State auditor meets with local leaders, highlights reform efforts
July 20, 2012 - The following content was originally published by the New Bedford Standard Times.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said she wants her office to go beyond flagging problems in programs and to target why they happened in the first place.
On Thursday, Bump met with about 30 local leaders, educators and activists, giving an overview of her office and the steps she has taken to improve its function.
Auditor Bump with Jon Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford
The Office of the State Auditor serves as the state's financial overseer through activities that range from auditing government departments to investigating fraud in public assistance.
"I want to use the auditors office to look at systems within government and not just flaws in programs," said Bump during lunch at the Wamsutta Club, which former Mayor Scott Lang hosted with attorney Margaret "MarDee" Xifaras.
Channel 5: On The Record interview with Auditor Bump
Dudley Housing Authority Resolved Prior Audit Issues; Working to Update Management Plan
July 17, 2012
An audit of the Dudley Housing Authority from May 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011, found that it had resolved issues identified in a prior audit by issuing required Internal Revenue Service Forms 1099-MISC for its independent contractors and improving inventory control over its furniture and equipment.
However, the audit did reveal that the Housing Authority’s management plan, which was created in 1981, had not been updated since, despite having all the necessary components – organization, personnel policies, job descriptions, and Department of Housing and Community Development regulations. The Authority is currently working to implement procedures to ensure that the management plan is routinely updated.
“I’m pleased that the Dudley Housing Authority has made progress since our prior audit and is working to make further improvements,” said State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
Automated Farebox Collections Issue Resolved At Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority
July 17, 2012
An audit of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority’s (MVRTA) use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for the period July 17, 2009, through September 30, 2011, indicated that all funds were administered in accordance with applicable funding requirements. The audit also revealed that the Authority had taken significant steps to resolve prior audit results related to the use of automated fareboxes.
“I applaud the Merrimack Valley RTA for acting quickly to address the findings in the prior audit by finding an immediate short-term solution while a longer term solution could be implemented,” said State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
Press Release: Automated Farebox Collections Issue Resolved At Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority
Audit: Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority's use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds