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OIG Annual Report 2019: Highlights

Part I of the Office of the Inspector General's 2019 Annual Report

Table of Contents

Massachusetts State House at Ashburton

Overview

In 2019, the Office of the Inspector General (“Office”) responded to over 1,380 hotline complaints and conducted investigations and reviews in such areas as:

  • Public administration
  • Health and human services
  • Municipal authorities
  • Public procurement
  • Public benefits
  • Public works
  • Pensions
  • Transportation

The Office’s work led to prosecutions, legislative initiatives, and policy changes at the state and local levels. Because education is key to preventing the misuse of government funds, the Office continued to expand its professional training program.

1,380 Complaints we responded to on our Fraud Hotline in 2019
1,418 Calls we responded to on our Chapter 30B Hotline in 2019

Classes

In 2019, the Office:

  • Offered more classes throughout the Commonwealth
  • Increased its videoconference classes
  • Launched new online training videos
  • Continued to collaborate with state and local agencies to provide training customized to the agency’s specific needs

Recognizing that individuals learn in different ways, the Office developed its first fully online course. The nine-week Supplies and Services Contracting class debuted on April 6, 2020. In March 2020, moreover, the Office temporarily moved all of its classes online in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Fellowships

Dr. Frances Burke
Dr. Frances Burke

In keeping with its strategic plan, the Office established two fellowships to improve its recruitment and retention of a talented and diverse workforce.

In July 2019, the Office welcomed its first Dr. Frances Burke Investigator Fellow. In March 2020, the Office welcomed its first Justice Geraldine Hines Legal Fellow.

Justice Geraldine Hines
Justice Geraldine Hines

Both two-year fellowship programs provide substantive and valuable experience to individuals with a strong commitment to public service. The programs are designed to allow each fellow 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.

Cooperative Education and Internship Program

The Office continued to work with Northeastern University’s cooperative education program and the academic internship program at New England Law School.

It also continues to expand its relationships with other colleges and universities, including:

  • Boston College
  • UMass Lowell
  • Boston University
  • Harvard University
  • Suffolk University
OIG Interns

Professional Development

The Office continued to emphasize professional development by encouraging employees to enroll in certification programs 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, interview techniques and healthcare 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.

Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division

Looking more closely at specific divisions within the Office, the Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division (“AOI Division”) worked on many investigations – either on its own or with prosecutors – that are not yet public.

However, in 2019, the AOI Division’s work on numerous criminal and civil matters became public through indictments, settlements and public recommendations for corrective measures.

For instance, the Office received public recognition for the AOI Division’s role in a joint investigation with the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that led to the arrest of the then-mayor of Fall River and several of his associates in September 2019.

Through the AOI Division, the Office also played a public role in examining the post-retirement employment of a former Boston Public Schools headmaster and recommending that the Boston Retirement Board recover at least $67,000 from her future pension payments.

Additional Resources

Bureau of Program Integrity

In addition to fulfilling its statutory mandate to conduct reviews and investigations related to various Executive Office of Health and Human Services (“EOHHS”) agencies, in 2019, the Bureau of Program Integrity (“Bureau”) hosted a statewide Summit for 40 managers from EOHHS and its agencies on the administration of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (“SNAP”) benefits to residents of group homes.

Also, in carrying out its mandate, the Bureau assisted in the prosecution of two Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”) employees, one for overtime fraud totaling $40,000 and another for misappropriating DDS funds to buy $15,000 of groceries for personal use.

The Bureau supported the development of DDS’s Bureau of Program Integrity and its internal controls and risk management program as well as recommended the implementation of a Program Integrity Division within the Department of Mental Health.

Additionally, the Bureau reviewed the oversight that EOHHS agencies exercise over vendors, including:

  • DDS vendors administering group homes
  • The Department of Transitional Assistance’s implementation of a new $64 million employment services program
  • The Department of Children and Families’ implementation of its after-hours hotline contract

Additional Resources

Division of State Police Oversight

In July 2018, in response to the discovery that some state troopers assigned to patrol the Massachusetts Turnpike were being paid for overtime shifts they had not worked, the legislature established the Division of State Police Oversight (“DSPO”) within the Office.

During 2019, the DSPO conducted a comprehensive review of the Massachusetts State Police’s (“MSP”) paid-detail policy with particular focus on the “travel time” section of the policy. After the DSPO’s review, the MSP made changes to that section of the policy in order to ensure that troopers are properly accounting for travel time to and from a detail.

The DSPO also initiated a review of the overtime shifts for all highway patrols to determine whether the abuses discovered in the Massachusetts Turnpike patrols were happening elsewhere in the state. The DSPO’s overtime review is ongoing.

Additional Resources

Internal Special Audit Unit

The Internal Special Audit Unit (“ISAU”) continued to delve into the operations of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 2019. Among other efforts, ISAU conducted an initial review of the MBTA’s privatization of its warehouse operations, identifying multiple ways the private vendor’s performance fell short of its contractual obligations and recommending improved oversight.

Following the discovery that the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ Merit Rating Board was not acting on information about out-of-state accidents involving drivers licensed in Massachusetts, the ISAU agreed to review the Merit Rating Board’s operations, financing and statutory obligations. This review is ongoing.

In addition, the ISAU also reviewed the MBTA’s administration of its “non-revenue fleet,” the passenger vehicles assigned to individual employees, specific departments or used as pool vehicles. The ISAU found lax controls in the assignment of state-owned vehicles to individual employees. ISAU is currently  working with the MBTA to improve the control environment.

Additional Resources

Policy and Government Division

The Policy and Government Division (“P&G Division”) is responsible for overseeing many of the Office’s legislative mandates, including a requirement to conduct healthcare reviews focusing on the Massachusetts Medicaid and Health Safety Net programs.

In March 2019, the P&G Division issued a multi-faceted report examining MassHealth’s oversight in five different areas: personal care attendants, adult day care centers, the adult foster care program, dentistry and optometry.

Separately, the P&G 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.

Additional Resources

Regulatory and Compliance Division

During 2019, the Regulatory and Compliance Division (“R&C Division”) provided:

  • Technical assistance to state and local government officials regarding Massachusetts’ public procurement laws
  • Trained approximately 2,300 participants in procurement law, fraud awareness and public governance through its MCPPO training program
  • Responded to 1,418 inquiries about public bidding laws

Because education is vital to preventing fraud, waste and abuse, the R&C Division is:

  • Expanding its training program by adding new classes
  • Offering more on-site classes across the Commonwealth
  • Publishing newsletters, advisories and procurement charts

The R&C Division has led the effort to develop online classes. Additionally, as it did in 2018, the Office continued to hold a summer session during July and August with all summer classes held outside of Boston.

2,300 Participants trained through the MCPPO program

Additional Resources

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.

Image credits:  Shutterstock
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