• This page, Audit of the Devens Enterprise Commission Objectives, Scope, and Methodology, is offered by
  • Office of the State Auditor

Audit of the Devens Enterprise Commission Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

An overview of the purpose and process of auditing the Devens Enterprise Commission.

Table of Contents

Overview

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of certain activities of the Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) for the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.

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 and the conclusion we reached regarding each objective.

Objective

Conclusion

  1. Has DEC taken appropriate measures to procure the services of a regional affordable housing coordinator (RAHC) to oversee and manage new and existing affordable housing units in the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone (Devens) to ensure that they remain affordable in perpetuity?

Yes

  1. Has DEC taken measures to partner with MassDevelopment, local businesses, and surrounding communities to establish, support, and improve commuter options for Devens businesses and residents?

Yes

To achieve our objectives, we gained an understanding of DEC’s internal control environment related to our audit objectives by (1) reviewing applicable laws and regulations, the Devens Reuse Plan, and the Devens zoning bylaws and (2) conducting inquiries with management at DEC, the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART), and Metro West Collaborative Development, Inc., as well as members of the DEC board of commissioners from Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley.

Affordable Housing Oversight

To determine whether DEC had taken appropriate measures to procure the services of an RAHC, we interviewed DEC management and reviewed agreements between DEC and its RAHC, in effect during our audit period, to oversee and manage new and existing affordable housing units in Devens.

To determine whether DEC’s RAHC had taken measures to ensure that affordable housing units overseen by its RAHC would remain affordable in perpetuity, we compared the inventory of affordable housing units, which we obtained from DEC, to affordable housing deed riders8 provided to us by DEC’s RAHC and verified that affordability restrictions were in place for all 25 units that were identified as affordable housing.

We reviewed all 25 affordable housing units monitored by DEC’s RAHC to determine whether any units had been sold during our audit period and whether affordable housing restrictions remained in place.

The reuse plan requires that approximately 25% of the 282 units be reserved for low- and moderate-income individuals or families and/or special-needs populations. To determine whether DEC was on track to meet this requirement, we calculated the percentage of the 158 housing units already occupied (as of June 30, 2019) that were affordable/special-needs housing units. Next, we added the 107 planned units (as of June 30, 2019) to the 158 occupied units and calculated the total percentage of these 265 units that were, or were planned to be, affordable/special-needs housing units.

Partnerships to Improve Commuter Options

To determine whether DEC had taken measures to partner with MassDevelopment, local businesses, and surrounding communities to establish, support, and improve commuter options for Devens businesses and residents, we reviewed meeting minutes from our audit period for the following: Devens shuttle evaluation meetings, Devens Marketing Committee shuttle meetings, and Fitchburg Line Working Group meetings. We reviewed these meeting minutes for evidence of DEC’s participation in activities to improve commuter options and so that we could assess whether MassDevelopment, local businesses, and surrounding communities were represented in the activities. We also determined whether DEC, along with MassDevelopment, solicited voluntary supplemental funding from Devens companies for the Devens Regional Shuttle Program. We obtained from DEC all shuttle funding request letters sent to Devens companies and verified with MART that Devens companies made financial contributions to the Devens Regional Shuttle Program during our audit period.

Data Reliability

To assess the reliability of DEC’s inventory of affordable Devens housing units, we traced all 25 affordable housing units on its inventory to the RAHC’s list of the affordable housing units the RAHC monitors. We determined that the Devens housing unit inventory was sufficiently reliable for the purpose of this audit.

To determine the reliability of affordable housing deed riders obtained from DEC’s RAHC, we traced the total population of deed riders to the registries of deeds of the towns where properties were constructed. We determined that the affordable housing deed riders were sufficiently reliable for the purpose of this audit.

Conclusion

Our audit revealed no significant instances of noncompliance that must be reported under generally accepted government auditing standards.

8.     Affordable housing deed riders detail affordability restrictions on areas such as resale, leasing, and remodeling and are intended to ensure that affordable housing units remain affordable in perpetuity.

Date published: July 27, 2020
Feedback