Accountability requires that state government serve as an effective steward of all the resources it oversees. Whether funds are derived from federal grants or reimbursements, the taxes paid by Massachusetts residents, or bonds issued to finance infrastructure or technology – every dollar must be maximized for the public good. Better information about potential impacts and risks to these resources is critical to effective stewardship. That is why CPAT continues to work with partners across state government to improve oversight of federal funding and grants to local communities, address the risk of fraud, waste and abuse and better forecast the impacts of economic change on the state’s finances.
Highlights from the CPAT’s work on federal grants management include:
- Expanding the all-funds budgeting approach – Detailed spending plans for 162 (up from 118 last year) of the largest federal grants were developed alongside the operating budget. These spending plans set out in detail how federal grant money will be expended over the year. Tracking this funding is a key component of the state’s “all-funds” approach to better managing state resources. This subset of federal grants was also integrated into our new program-based budget.
- Enhancing oversight of financial policies related to federal grants – Working with the Office of the Comptroller, regulations were updated to ensure tracking of all federal grants the state applies for, the funding expended against each grant and the success rate in winning grant awards. This will enable the state to work to improve the amount of awards it receives and funds utilized. Additionally, the process for establishing federal grant accounts in the state’s accounting system has been streamlined. This will allow agencies to spend funds in a timely manner and increase their ability to achieve program objectives.
- Analyzing the impact federal budget cuts on the Massachusetts economy – The Sequestration Task Force, formed by A&F last year, commissioned an independent study by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts to examine the economic impacts of budget sequestration on our state. This was the first study of its kind in the nation and confirmed the negative impact of federal budget cuts for the Commonwealth’s innovative economy.
- Procurement of an enterprise-wide grants management system – An IT system to support state government in maximizing federal funding and managing grants more effectively is being developed. The system would be the first-in-the-nation to offer a comprehensive set of grants management tools to state agencies, supporting efforts to maximize funds and achieve program goals.
- Creating the Municipal Grants Finder – The Administration unveiled a new, one-stop Internet portal for cities and towns seeking state grant opportunities. The Grant Finder profiles more than 60 funding and support opportunities, providing a transparent and streamlined interface for information communities can use to support essential local services.
Highlights from CPAT’s work on program integrity include:
- Launching a statewide program integrity review – Using money appropriated by the Legislature in the FY14 GAA, A&F worked with the Comptroller’s Office to commission a review of how state government’s internal control/audit structure is aligned to mitigate risk of fraud, waste, abuse and improper payment. The review is also tasked with recommending how additional program integrity resources could be used to maximize ongoing savings. The results of this study will enable resources to improve program integrity to be better targeted.
- Strengthening verification through information sharing – Working with the Department of Revenue, A&F requested legislation that was adopted by both the House and Senate to strengthen the process used to verify income and confirm the eligibility of individuals applying to receive public benefits to help ensure the prevention of fraud, waste and abuse.
- Coordinating efforts across state government – CPAT continues to work with secretariats and oversight offices to improve agency follow-up on oversight investigations and audit findings to further strengthen state internal controls. A Program Integrity Steering Committee meets regularly to share best practices and lessons learned among Secretariats.
- Developing an audit tracking tool– A working group was created to test and develop an internal system to track agency responses to audit findings and recommendations. This will help strengthen program integrity by providing clear documentation of audit responses and enabling agencies to better coordinate mitigation efforts for similar findings.
Highlights from CPAT’s work on economic and caseload forecasting include:
- Forecasting MassHealth caseloads – The economic and caseload forecasting office prepares semi-annual caseload forecasting reports for submission to the Legislature. The office collaborated with MassHealth and an outside economist to update the agency’s forecasting methodology and has procured a research firm to complete an analysis of changes in the MassHealth eligible population and develop a simulation model for forecasting caseloads.
- Establishing the state’s Health Cost Benchmark – The office developed a process for estimating potential gross state product (PGSP), for purposes of recent health care cost containment legislation, with input from outside economists and in consultation with the Legislature, the Department of Revenue and the Health Policy Commission. This process is aligned with the annual consensus revenue process and the development of five-year tax revenue forecasts.
Updating our long-term fiscal policy – In January 2014, A&F published an update to the Commonwealth’s Long-Term Fiscal Policy Framework, which was first published in April 2012. The Patrick Administration is the first in the Commonwealth’s history to develop a formal policy framework that sets out goals for long-term fiscal sustainability. The first publication of the Framework was positively received by ratings agencies and other fiscal watchdogs. A&F also updated its five-year revenue forecast and estimate of the FY 2015 cyclical deficit and published this information alongside the Governor’s Budget Recommendation.