In 2018, the Office responded to over 1,422 complaints and conducted investigations and reviews in such areas as administration, health and human services, municipal authorities, public procurement, public benefits, public works, pensions and transportation. The Office’s work led to state and federal criminal convictions, legislative initiatives, and policy changes at the state and local levels.
|Fraud Hotline Complaints||1,422|
|Chapter 30B Hotline Inquiries||1,350|
Because education is key to preventing the misuse of government funds, the Office expanded its professional training program in 2018, offering more classes throughout the Commonwealth and launching new online training videos. It also continued to collaborate with state agencies, primarily in human services and transportation, to provide training customized to the agency’s specific needs. And recognizing that individuals learn in different ways, the Office began creating online courses; it plans to provide its first course this fall.
The Office also grew in 2018, adding two new specialized units: the Division of State Police Oversight and the Civil Recovery Unit. Additionally, the Office completed its first five-year strategic plan, setting the course for the Office’s future. This process of creating the strategic plan helped the Office to refine its mission, vision and values to guide it in its day-to-day work.
In keeping with its strategic plan, the Office established two fellowships to improve its recruitment and retention of a talented and diverse workforce. Starting in September 2019, the Office will welcome its first Dr. Frances Burke Investigator Fellow and will welcome its first Justice Geraldine Hines Legal Fellow in September 2020. The fellowship programs will provide substantive and valuable experience to individuals with a strong commitment to public service. The programs are designed to allow Fellows to learn about the wide variety of work the Office performs, with the hope of offering full-time employment at the end of the fellowship.
The Office continued to emphasize professional development by sponsoring employees to earn certifications through organizations such as the Association of Inspectors General and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Members of the Office also participated in the Commonwealth’s year-long CORE management program. Other employees attended specialized trainings on topics such as computer forensics, data analytics and health care fraud. As part of its commitment to a positive and supportive workplace, the Office also provided office-wide trainings on subjects such as preventing violence in the workplace, ethics, fraud reporting, implicit bias and sexual harassment prevention.
Looking more closely at specific divisions within the Office, the Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division worked on numerous criminal and civil matters that led to convictions, indictments, settlements, restitution and corrective measures. These matters included the review of payments and benefits for the former director of a charter school that identified $100,000 in sick time payments the director could not have accrued; the review of sick leave policies at municipal light plants, which found $9.2 million in payments to former employees for unused sick time in three communities’ light plants; and, an investigation into public officials negotiation and approval of a police superior officers‘ contract which would have paid its captains an average salary of $432,000.
As part of its statutory mandate, the Bureau of Program Integrity (“Bureau”) conducted reviews and investigations related to the Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”) and the Department of Transitional Assistant (“DTA”). In addition, as required by statute, the Bureau worked collaboratively with EOHHS, DDS and DTA to develop long-term relationships focused on making lasting improvements to their management infrastructure and program administration as well as enhancing their fraud detection capabilities. Additionally, the Bureau expanded its scope of work to include collaborating with the Department of Mental Health (“DMH”) and the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) on specific projects aimed at addressing potential business risks.
In July 2018, the Legislature established the Division of State Police Oversight (“Division”) within the Office. The Division’s scope encompasses, but is not limited to, (1) monitoring the quality, efficiency and integrity of the Massachusetts State Police’s (“MSP”) operations, organizational structure and management functions; (2) seeking to prevent, detect and correct fraud, waste and abuse in the expenditure of public funds within the MSP; and (3) monitoring policy changes instituted as a result of the MSP’s certification or accreditation by a state or national police accrediting agency. The Division’s main focus to date has been monitoring the MSP’s efforts to obtain certification or accreditation. To that end, the MSP submitted an application seeking certification to the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, hired a full-time accreditation manager whose sole job function is to guide the MSP through the accreditation process, and is currently in the self-assessment phase toward achieving certification.
The Internal Special Audit Unit (“ISAU”) reported on its review of change orders and contract overruns for the design and final phase of construction of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Taunton River in Bristol County. The ISAU identified opportunities for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to strengthen contract administration procedures for large-scale construction projects, with an increased focus on design errors and cost recoveries. The review also highlighted improvements needed for designer oversight and accountability, the importance of conducting public procurements, and the need to secure all appropriate approvals and permits prior to beginning construction. Overall, the ISAU identified nearly $20 million in missed opportunities for cost savings. Further, the ISAU continued to participate in the RMV’s placard abuse task force, worked with MassDOT to promote training and process improvements, and continued to operate its three fraud hotlines.
The Policy and Government Division (“Division”) conducted healthcare reviews of the Massachusetts Medicaid and Health Safety Net programs. The reviews focused on adult day health, adult foster care, dental care, optometry and personal care attendants. In all five areas, the Office made recommendations to strengthen program integrity and increase the detection of fraud, waste and abuse. Additionally, the Division continued to participate in the development of policies and procedures related to the Commonwealth’s public design and construction laws, reviewed public land transactions and provided input on over 100 pieces of legislation.
Also during 2018, the Regulatory and Compliance Division (“Division”) provided technical assistance to state and local government officials regarding Massachusetts’ public procurement laws, trained approximately 2,100 participants in procurement law, fraud awareness and public governance through its MCPPO training program, and responded to 1,350 inquiries about public bidding laws. Because education is vital to preventing fraud, waste and abuse, the division also expanded its training program by adding new classes; offering more on-site classes across the Commonwealth; publishing newsletters, advisories, and procurement charts; and creating free, online training videos for government officials and the public. Additionally, for the first time, the Office held a summer session during July and August with all summer classes held outside of Boston.
Further details about the activities summarized above, as well as the results of additional investigations, reviews and other projects, are set forth in the rest of this report.