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Audit of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

An overview of the purpose and process of auditing the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office.

Table of Contents


In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) has conducted a performance audit of certain activities of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) for the period July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017.

We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

Below is a list of our audit objectives, indicating each question we intended our audit to answer; the conclusion we reached regarding each objective; and, if applicable, where each objective is discussed in the audit findings.



  1. Were certain administrative expenses applicable and allowable in accordance with BCSO policies and procedures, and did they directly support BCSO’s mission?

No; see Finding 4

  1. Did BCSO properly administer its revenue and its contracting process for goods and services in accordance with its policies and procedures, the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association’s (MSA’s) budgetary requirements, contractual agreements, and Section 27 of Chapter 30 of the General Laws?

No; see Findings 1, 2, and 3

  1. Did BCSO properly administer overtime for its employees who received the most overtime, in accordance with its policies and procedures?



To achieve our objectives, we gained an understanding of the internal controls related to our audit objectives by reviewing applicable laws, agency policies, and procedures, as well as conducting interviews with BCSO management. We evaluated the design and tested the operating effectiveness of controls over the following areas: administrative expenses, contractual procurement of goods and services, and administration of BCSO employee overtime.

We assessed the reliability of BCSO’s electronic data by reviewing its computer use policies, testing security settings, and testing access controls. In addition, we traced a sample of source documents to BCSO’s systems and verified a sample of items from the systems to source documents.

In 2018, OSA performed a data reliability assessment of the Commonwealth’s Massachusetts Management Accounting and Reporting System (MMARS) focused on testing selected system controls (access controls, application controls, configuration management, contingency planning, and segregation of duties) for the period April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. As part of the current audit, we obtained payment information from MMARS for all expenses incurred by BCSO during our audit period and compared this information to the expense data in BCSO’s accounting records (invoices, spreadsheet data, and purchase orders). We selected a random sample of six invoices from BCSO’s files and determined whether the information on the invoices matched the data in MMARS. Further, we reviewed 30 months of credit card statements, comparing the beginning and ending balances on these statements to determine whether any statements were missing.

We requested from BCSO a list of all contracts it executed during our audit period. To test the accuracy and completeness of this list, we reviewed the minutes of the Sheriff’s Internal Committee meetings held during our audit period, noting any discussions of contracts, and compared those discussed to the list provided. We also reviewed a random sample of 28 of the 25,209 transactions involving payments BCSO made during the audit period to determine whether they corresponded to any contractual agreements that were not on the list provided.

We extracted from MMARS a list of BCSO employees who received overtime payments during our audit period and compared it to BCSO’s payroll records to determine the accuracy of the records.

We obtained from BCSO officials a list of all the bank accounts BCSO used during our audit period and a list of all credit cards in use. To verify the number of active credit cards in use, we examined BCSO bank activity reports for any credit card transactions. We analyzed the information in BCSO’s credit card statements to determine whether the listed payment amounts reconciled to amounts reported in MMARS.

Based on the results of these data reliability assessment procedures, we determined that the information obtained for our audit period was sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our audit work.

Administrative Expenses

To determine whether administrative expenses were applicable and allowable in accordance with BCSO internal control policies and procedures, MSA’s budgetary requirements, contractual agreements, and Section 27 of Chapter 30 of the General Laws, we selected a statistical sample of 31 transactions (totaling $232,105) out of a population of 25,209 transactions (totaling $57,544,435), with a tolerable error rate of 7.5% and confidence level of 90%. We reviewed each transaction and determined whether purchases were related to BCSO activities, payment amounts were properly calculated, purchases had sufficient documentation, invoice amounts matched expenditure amounts, and invoices were properly approved and marked as paid.


To determine whether BCSO properly administered its contracting process for goods and services, we selected a judgmental sample of 8 out of 35 contracts (such as the inmate telephone, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE], and medical contracts) that BCSO awarded during our audit period. We reviewed the contract files to determine whether each contract was awarded in accordance with BCSO policies and procedures. In the case of BCSO’s contract with ICE, we also determined whether BCSO annually calculated the cost of housing ICE detainees and, if necessary, amended the contract to ensure proper reimbursement. Finally, we determined whether any revenue derived from a contract was properly deposited in the appropriate bank account by examining invoice amounts and comparing them to bank statements and MMARS transaction data.

To assess whether assets that were procured during the audit period were properly inventoried, we judgmentally selected 67 out of 1,083 items from BCSO’s inventory record, located them, and determined whether they had inventory tags affixed.


To determine whether overtime was properly managed and approved for the BCSO employees who earned the most overtime pay, we selected a judgmental sample of the top 39 employees out of the 100 employees who received the most overtime pay during our audit period. We reviewed roll call matrixes2 and employee punch cards to determine why employees were required to work overtime and whether overtime had supervisory approval. Finally, we reviewed payroll records to determine whether overtime had been approved by senior management.

Credit Card Expenditures

To determine whether credit card expenditures were procured in accordance with BCSO policies and procedures, were allowable under those policies and procedures, and were directly applicable to BCSO’s mission, we performed the following audit procedures regarding credit card expenditures:

  • We randomly selected a nonstatistical sample of eight monthly credit card statements from a period of 30 months.
  • We tested all 67 credit card purchases (totaling $39,294) made during the eight-month period selected to determine whether purchases were business-related and properly documented, and we determined whether items listed on the receipts were applicable and allowable for BCSO use, transactions were authorized and reviewed, and the amounts on the receipts matched those on the credit card statements.
  • We compared the credit card payment statements to payment information in MMARS to determine whether the payment amounts reconciled.

We used a combination of judgmental and statistical sampling methods for our audit objectives and did not project the sample results to any of the population.

2.    A roll call matrix is a mandatory briefing that correction officers receive when they arrive for their shifts that describes any relevant activities that occurred at the facility before they arrived.

Date published: February 13, 2019