Springfield Republican Editorial: Welfare fraud in Massachusetts sullies program meant to help
May 29, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office released some troubling findings this week: Massachusetts pays dead people.
Not literally, of course. But an audit conducted by Bump found that Massachusetts has handed out $18 million in “questionable assistance benefits” over the past few years – including $2.39 million to more than 1,160 people who were either dead or using a deceased person’s Social Security number.
Bump said she believes the bulk of the $1.7 billion a year in welfare funds administered by the state Department of Transitional Assistance are spent appropriately. But she said she was disturbed that the state did not catch so many obvious signs of abuse or waste in programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled Children.
Bump’s office has been relentless in its effort to uncover incidents of public fraud since she was elected in 2010 in the race to succeed longtime auditor Joseph DeNucci, who retired.
We applaud the auditor’s efforts to make sure that the programs are run honestly and that the people who desperately need the assistance are getting that help.
Related Editorials and OP-EDs
05/30/13 - Boston Herald
06/02/13 - Boston Globe
05/31/13 - Quincy Patriot Ledger
06/03/13 - Newburyport Daily News / Salem News
05/29/13 - Fall River Herald News
05/30/13 - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
06/05/13 - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Boston Globe: Massachusetts auditor finds more than 1,000 dead people on welfare
May 28, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Globe.
A state audit today found Massachusetts has handed out $18 million in “questionable public assistance benefits” over the past few years, including welfare to more than 1,160 people who were either dead or using a deceased person’s Social Security number.
The report, which covered food stamps, cash, and other benefits to low-income families, estimated that recipients using a dead person’s Social Security number alone received at least $2.4 million in between July 2010 and April 2012. It also flagged another $15 million in suspicious transactions from electronic benefit cards during the two-and-a-half-year period the auditor reviewed.
Click here to see Auditor Bump's interview with Jim Braude.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump said she thought the bulk of the $1.7 billion a year in welfare programs the state provides each year was likely spent appropriately, but said she was disturbed that the state did not catch so many obvious signs of abuse or waste.
“It pains all of us in the auditor’s office to think that the programs’s integrity is not being maintained,” Bump said in a telephone interview. “The most frustrating finding is that we were able to identify so many patterns of activity that could have raised suspicions, but did not.”
05/28/13 - Channel 4 WBZ
05/28/13 - Channel 5 WCVB
05/28/13 - Channel 7 WHDH
05/28/13 - Fox 25 WFXT
05/28/13 - ABC 40
05/28/13 - Boston Herald
05/28/13 - Springfield Republican
05/28/13 - AP
Boston Globe: Audit hits use of funds by Randolph nonprofit
May 20, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Globe.
The longtime head of a Randolph-based nonprofit that provides services to people with autism and other disabilities was living in Georgia for more than a decade while collecting a six-figure salary and improperly billing the state for personal expenses, according to an audit scheduled to be issued Monday by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
The audit says the May Institute used state funds to reimburse its former president and chief executive, Walter P. Christian, for nearly $140,000 in expenses that Christian should have paid for out of his own pocket, including a home health aide for his wife, day care fees for a grandson, the use of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan in Georgia, and a Chrysler Pacifica that he used when visiting Massachusetts.
The May Institute also failed to report more than $150,000 of Christian’s salary and benefits as taxable income to the Internal Revenue Service and the state Department of Revenue, according to the audit, which was obtained by the Globe before its scheduled release.
Bump’s financial review covers a two-year period — from July 2009 through June 2011 — but Christian, who is not named in the audit, had been running the organization while maintaining his primary residence in Georgia for more than a decade, until retiring in January, according to a spokeswoman for the May Institute.
Read more from the Boston Globe. (pay wall)
State House News: Bump seeks shakeup of board overseeing SouthField development
May 14, 2013 - The following content was originally published by the State House News Service.
The board overseeing a major South Shore development has shown a lack of expertise necessary for a project that will essentially create a small town on an old U.S. Navy base in Abington, Rockland and Weymouth, according to Auditor Suzanne Bump.
“I think that it’s up to the local legislative delegation to work with the community and the Commonwealth, to have a board that provides a better balance of local control and experience and expertise,” Bump told the News Service. “This board is focused on local control to the exclusion of experience and expertise.”
Bump said the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation Board had not discussed financing options, even though the development corporation had a $158.5 million deficit for its financial obligations, and she said the board had paid $2.3 million over three years without adequate documentation.
South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation CEO Kevin Donovan said the five-person board comprised of a fire lieutenant, a police official, a retired banker, a real estate advisor and Norfolk County Treasurer Joseph Connolly is “most definitely” qualified for the work, and said the Great Recession shared much of the blame for delays in the project.
Counting Change: Businesses must practice what they preach
May 11, 2013 - The following content is from a opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which originally appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Bill Gates didn’t become the richest man in the world without understanding what makes a complex organization successful. So maybe the fact that he has recently joined a chorus of private sector wizards calling on government to operate more like a business should spur some action along these lines.
Business-types want to see more evidence of the effectiveness of public spending strategies. As Gates put it, “in business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count, like customer satisfaction and performance … you thrive on that.”
Just because private enterprise and democratic government serve very different purposes, attention to the bottom line should be no less an imperative for governors than for CEOs. Technological advances are opening new doors for governments to make increasingly better use of its data. Data is behind all the work in the State Auditor’s office, from audits of state agencies to investigations of public benefits fraud, and it helps inform policy-makers’ decisions about how and where to spend public dollars.
When it comes to tax policy, however, the use of metrics and objective analysis is seriously lagging.