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Audit of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

An overview of the purpose and process of auditing the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

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 the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for the period July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018.

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 our audit objective, indicating the question we intended our audit to answer, the conclusion we reached regarding the objective, and where the objective is discussed in the audit findings.

Objective

Conclusion

  1. Is MEMA, as the state emergency response commission (SERC), meeting its responsibilities under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) at the state level?

No; see Findings 1a and 1b

 

To achieve our objective, we gained an understanding of MEMA’s internal control environment as it related to our audit objective by reviewing applicable laws and agency policies and procedures and conducting inquiries with management regarding the administration of the SERC under EPCRA. We evaluated the controls MEMA used to remind Tier II report filers of upcoming annual reporting deadlines.

We also performed the following procedures.

  • To determine whether MEMA, as the Massachusetts SERC, established procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, we selected a random nonstatistical sample of 4 public information requests from a population of 10 received during the audit period. We reviewed the date of the request, details of the request, date of the response, and details of the response for each of the 4 requests in our sample.
  • To determine whether MEMA had designated EPCRA-compliant districts, we obtained a list of 70 local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and 24 regional emergency planning committees (REPCs) that existed as of December 2018. From the list, we identified the cities and towns that were associated with each LEPC or REPC. We compared the results to a list of all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.
  • We obtained from MEMA a list of 4,277 facilities in the Commonwealth that had filed Tier II reports in calendar year 2018. To determine whether there were any facilities that were subject to EPCRA reporting and were not included in an LEPC or REPC, we sorted the list by city or town and compared the results to the list of cities and towns that were not associated with LEPCs or REPCs.
  • To determine whether MEMA had adequately performed its required responsibilities under EPCRA regarding the supervision of emergency planning committees (EPCs), we reviewed Chapter 116 of Title 42 of the United States Code to identify attributes within the law that would clarify a SERC’s responsibilities that were required in order to supervise an EPC. We determined that to comply with EPCRA, a SERC should perform the following duties:
    establish an EPC and appoint its members
    maintain a copy of the EPC’s emergency response plan
    ensure the following for the EPC’s emergency response plan:
         - that it is reviewed annually by the EPC
         - that it designates a community response coordinator
         - that it identifies all Tier II facilities within the EPC’s district
         - that it includes each facility’s plans to respond to chemical releases
         - that it identifies a facility emergency coordinator for each facility in the EPC’s district
  • Using the list of 351 communities in Massachusetts, we randomly selected a nonstatistical sample of 40 communities. We requested the emergency response plans for these 40 communities and evaluated whether MEMA performed its responsibilities as SERC.

Data Reliability Assessment

To verify the accuracy and completeness of the list of EPCRA-related public record requests that MEMA received during our audit period, we obtained from MEMA’s SERC coordinator a list of such requests received during our audit period and traced 4 of the 10 requests to a file maintained by MEMA’s public records administrator. We then traced 4 EPCRA-related public record requests received by MEMA’s public records administrator to the list we received from the SERC coordinator.   

To verify the accuracy and completeness of the list of 4,277 Tier II reports filed for calendar year 2018, we scanned the list for duplicate records and reports filed outside the audit period.

To verify the accuracy and completeness of the list of Massachusetts communities that we obtained from the Massachusetts Bureau of Geographic Information, we compared it to the records on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

We determined that the list of EPCRA-related public record requests, the list of Tier II reports from the Tier II Manager System, and the list of communities in the Commonwealth were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of our audit.

Where sampling was used, we used nonstatistical samples; therefore, we could not project the results of our tests to the entire population.

Date published: February 27, 2020
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