The Office’s Regulatory and Compliance Division (“Division”) provides extensive educational and technical assistance to state and local government officials regarding Massachusetts’ public procurement laws, fraud awareness and public governance.
Among other activities, the Division:
- Operates the Office’s training programs.
- Publishes educational materials.
- Offers a technical assistance hotline to respond to inquiries and complaints about public procurement, fraud prevention and good governance.
The Division also interprets and formulates policies for the Uniform Procurement Act, M.G.L. c. 30B (“Chapter 30B”), which governs the purchase and disposal of supplies, services, equipment and real property by cities, towns and other governmental bodies.
I. Training and Professional Development
The Office established the Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (“MCPPO”) training program 23 years ago.
The Office created the training program to promote excellence in public procurement by ensuring that public purchasing officials have the tools necessary to operate effectively and in accordance with procurement laws. Since then, the MCPPO program has expanded to include a broad range of classes on government, including teaching on subjects such as:
- Internal controls
- Board governance
- Contract administration
- Fraud prevention
To reach the widest audience possible, the Office offers classes online, through videoconferencing and in classrooms across the Commonwealth. Further, recognizing that individuals have different training needs and budgets, the Office’s trainings range from short, half-hour videos to a nine-day certification program. Most recently, as discussed below, the Office launched a nine-week online class that allows students to learn at their own pace, with each weekly lesson taking about two hours to complete.
Since 1997, more than 25,000 participants have attended MCPPO classes and outside speaking engagements. In 2019 alone, the Office provided training to 2,283 students.
In 2019, the Division held 96 classes, including 17 videoconference classes (where the Office simulcasts classes to locations across the Commonwealth). The Division also participated in 27 outside speaking engagements. Between the classes and speaking engagements, the Division provided training to 3,209 participants across the Commonwealth.
The training classes included three classes required for an MCPPO designation:
- Public Contracting Overview, an introductory class that provides an overview of Massachusetts’ procurement laws
- Supplies and Services Contracting, a more in-depth review of Chapter 30B
- Design and Construction Contracting, providing in-depth instruction on the procurement laws governing public design and construction in Massachusetts
Additionally, the Division offered two Story of a School Building classes in collaboration with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”). This one-day class is typically offered at a recently renovated or constructed public school. It is essential for all public school officials who are considering undertaking a school building project.
In 2019, the Division also offered Story of a Library Building at the recently renovated Stoughton Public Library for jurisdictions considering a library construction or renovation.
The Division also offered specialized classes, such as its a four-day class, Certification for School Project Designers and Owner’s Project Managers. The Office created this class in response to an MSBA regulation that requires public school designers and owner’s project managers to earn an MCPPO certification in order to work on MSBA-funded school projects.
The Division also continued to offer a two-day class, Charter School Procurement, in response to a statutory mandate and introduced new classes such as Cybersecurity 101: Addressing Risks to Local Government in response to growing cyber threats.
The Division continued to incorporate additional videoconference classes into the MCPPO program, making it possible for those with travel, budget or personnel constraints to attend MCPPO classes.
In 2019, the Division held 17 videoconferences at the following locations:
- Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield
- Bristol Community College in Fall River
- Gateway Regional School District in Huntington
- Greenfield Community College in Greenfield
- Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill
- Suffolk University in Boston
- The Centerville-Osterville-Marston Mills Fire District in Centerville
- The University of Massachusetts at Lowell
The Division thanks the staff at the jurisdictions that hosted its trainings for their participation. The Division is always looking for additional locations to host both live classes and videoconferences.
II. MCPPO Online Classes
In 2019, the Division began working with the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute to create online versions of some of its core classes.
Combining online learning modules with instructor-led discussions and homework assignments, these classes will allow students to learn at their own pace while still providing opportunities to engage with their teachers and peers. The Division launched its first nine-week class – Supplies and Services Contracting – in the spring of 2020.
III. Online Training Videos
In 2019, the Division produced two online training videos. These have been added to the Office's YouTube channel, which offers an array of educational videos for free, unlimited viewing.
Fraud Awareness and Prevention in the Workplace examines fraud and other financial misconduct in the workplace, including what causes individuals to commit such misconduct. The video also provides important information on how to prevent and detect fraud, theft and other financial misconduct in the workplace.
Public Purchasing for Supplies and Services in Massachusetts provides best practices and legal requirements for purchasing supplies and services in accordance with Chapter 30B.
Providing these videos and other web-based informational materials is part of the Office’s commitment to proactive outreach to the general public, public employees and companies that do business with the government.
IV. Outside Speaking Engagements
Education is essential to preventing the misuse of public money and property. Throughout 2019, the Office provided speakers on various topics, including:
- Public procurement
- Fraud prevention
- Board governance
- Public administration
- The Office’s mission, accomplishments and investigations
Staff made presentations to government agencies, universities and associations.
V. Technical Assistance Hotline
The Division regularly advises public employees on how to comply with the procurement laws, obtain the best value for their jurisdictions and increase competition for public contracts.
The Division offers a technical assistance hotline to respond to questions concerning:
- Chapter 30B
- Public construction biding laws
- Local purchasing requirements
- Fraud prevention
- Internal controls
The hotline operates every workday and individuals can email the hotline or leave voice messages 24 hours a day. In 2019, the Division responded to 1,418 inquiries and questions.
VI. Electronic Registrations and Payments
In 2019, the Division introduced an electronic registration and payment process. The payment system has been successfully piloted with a sample of MCPPO classes. I
In 2020, the Division plans to offer electronic registration and payment for all MCPPO classes.
VII. MCPPO Training Email and Information Line
As interest in the MCPPO program continued to increase in 2019, the program introduced a telephone information line to supplement the MCPPO training program’s email. The program received 3,823 inquiries in 2019.
The MCPPO information line and training email operate every workday. Participants can leave voice messages or send an email 24 hours a day and an MCPPO staff member will respond as soon as possible.
The Division publishes a wide range of materials to educate and inform public employees, private companies and the public. Since 1994, for example, the Office has published the Procurement Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter containing information about public procurement, contract administration, fraud prevention, the Office’s investigations and other topics of importance to helping government operate effectively, transparently and with accountability.
In 2019, each issue of the Procurement Bulletin reached approximately 5,500 individuals across Massachusetts. In addition, the Office recently changed the name of the Procurement Bulletin to the OIG Bulletin to better reflect the broad range of topics included in the publication.
Contact for OIG Annual Report 2019: Regulatory and Compliance Division
Available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F. Our confidential Hotline is for public employees and individuals with Chapter 30B procurement questions. Direct questions related to design and construction procurement to the Attorney General’s Office.
|Date published:||April 30, 2020|