OIG Annual Report 2021: Highlights

Part I of the Office of the Inspector General's 2021 Annual Report

Table of Contents


The Office of the Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Office) is an independent state agency charged with preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse in the use of public funds and public property. In 2021, the Office’s work – which included investigations, reviews, partnerships and trainings – spanned numerous areas of state and local government, including education, healthcare, human services, public administration, public safety and transportation. The Office’s efforts resulted in criminal convictions, policy changes, new legislation, stronger internal controls and expanded training opportunities for public employees. 

Also in 2021, the Office responded to over 2,690 hotline complaints from public employees and members of the public; many of the investigations and reviews in this report stemmed from those complaints. In addition, the Office collaborated with other agencies to strengthen oversight of the billions of dollars in pandemic-related funds that the federal government has distributed to agencies, businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations. 

Because education is an integral tool in preventing the misuse of government funds, the Office continued to expand its professional training program in 2021, offering more classes and new online trainings. The Office taught more than 4,300 students and responded to almost 1,500 inquiries for technical assistance in 2021. 

The Office also continued to adapt its operations in response to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and the challenges it presented did not affect the Office’s mission, the dedication of its employees or its commitment to improving government. In short, the Office maintained its commitment to detecting, preventing and correcting fraud, waste and abuse of public funds and resources across the Commonwealth. 

Looking more closely at each division, in 2021, the Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division (Investigations Division) conducted investigations and reviews into a broad range of alleged misconduct and misuse of public funds. For example, the Investigations Division worked with the Internal Special Audit Unit (Transportation Unit) to identify more than $470,000 in overpaid retirement benefits made by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Association Retirement Plan (Retirement Plan). The Investigations Division made numerous recommendations to the Retirement Plan to strengthen its internal controls, and the Retirement Plan has recovered the overpayments.

The Investigations Division also conducted a joint investigation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (Attorney General’s Office) that led to an indictment against Manuel Duran, former CEO of Casa Nueva Vida, Inc. (CNV), for allegedly embezzling nearly $1.5 million from the organization. CNV operates shelters to aid families experiencing homelessness, specializing in services and programs for single Latina mothers and their children. The Attorney General’s Office False Claims Division brought a lawsuit against Mr. Duran, alleging that Mr. Duran abused his position by improperly funneling CNV funds to himself and that then he falsely certified compliance with regulations designed to detect self-dealing. Mr. Duran agreed to pay $6 million to settle the lawsuit.

While continuing to fulfill its statutory mandate to conduct reviews and investigations related to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), in 2021, the Bureau of Program Integrity (Bureau) responded to a rise in hotline complaints and expanded its work across EOHHS agencies. The Bureau continued assisting the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) with improving the agency’s internal controls and contract administration. The Bureau collaborated with DDS to respond to concerns related to how DDS vendors that run group homes spent COVID-19 pandemic relief funds. 

The Bureau also helped to improve the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) fraud detection capabilities and address fraud risks related to the pandemic. For example, the Bureau provided recommendations and technical assistance to help DTA identify benefit recipients who violated program rules by failing to disclose that they were receiving DTA benefits and Department of Unemployment Assistance benefits at the same time. In addition, the Bureau engaged with the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Department of Public Health to address several complaints about the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, which provide long-term care to veterans.

The Legislature created the Division of State Police Oversight (State Police Division) in response to the discovery that some troopers in Massachusetts State Police Troop E, which patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike, were being paid for overtime they had not worked. In 2021, the State Police Division completed a review of 2016 data to evaluate overtime in other troops. The State Police Division found that troopers were absent for 447.9 hours – 9% of the hours the troopers should have worked.1 Across all six troops, the State Police Division found 490 shifts (40% of all shifts) in which troopers were absent for at least 15 minutes of the shift. 

The State Police Division also worked collaboratively with the Office’s Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) to recover unearned pay from former troopers who claimed to have worked overtime between 2015 and 2017 that they had not worked. To date, 13 former troopers have paid more than $245,000 to settle allegations that they received pay for overtime that they did not work.

The Internal Special Audit Unit (Transportation Unit) continued its work examining and evaluating the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The Transportation Unit also continued its in-depth review of the Merit Rating Board, the division within the Registry of Motor Vehicles responsible for maintaining and updating driving records. Lastly, the Transportation Unit, in conjunction with the Investigations Division, concluded two investigations related to the MBTA Transit Police. The first investigation found that three Transit Police officers received pay for hours they did not work, resulting in larceny charges. The second investigation identified more than $470,000 in overpayments by the MBTA Police Association Retirement Plan. 

The Legal Division supported the Office’s work in 2021 by providing legal guidance related to investigations, audits, oversight and education-based outreach, as well as reviewing and updating internal policies and procedures. In addition, the Legal Division continued the Office’s work related to the Hinton Drug Lab investigation.

The Legal Division’s Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) continued to work closely with the Attorney General’s Office on matters involving false claims and wasted public funds. In 2021, the CRU carried out its mandate to conduct civil recovery actions by resolving cases involving alleged overbilling and overtime abuse. In addition, the CRU worked with other Office divisions and state agencies to identify matters that may be appropriate for a civil recovery.

The Policy and Government Division (Policy Division) is responsible for overseeing many of the Office’s legislative mandates. In 2021, it continued to help develop policies and procedures related to the Commonwealth’s public design and construction laws. The Policy Division also reviewed public land transactions and provided input on more than 100 pieces of legislation to ensure that the transactions and legislation protected public funds and property. Additionally, the Policy Division fulfilled its mandate to report annually on healthcare spending. In 2021, the Policy Division’s healthcare work included continuing to assist the Office of Medicaid (MassHealth) to improve its data integrity and the use of background checks in its Personal Care Attendant program.

 In January 2022, the Office created the Pandemic Funding Oversight Unit (PFO) within the Policy Division. The PFO is responsible for coordinating pandemic-related oversight efforts throughout the Office, including through the development and presentation of trainings; the maintenance of an internal knowledge base of rules and resources; and the tracking of pandemic-related cases and guidance. 

The Regulatory and Compliance Division (Regulatory Division) continued to help state and local government employees use best practices and comply with Massachusetts public purchasing laws. In 2021, the Regulatory Division responded to 1,493 inquiries made to the Office’s Chapter 30B hotline about public bidding laws, good governance and best practices for purchasing supplies and services. The Regulatory Division also continued to expand the curriculum for its professional training program – the Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) program – by introducing additional webinars and online trainings. These initiatives attracted 4,347 participants to trainings about topics such as procurement law, fraud awareness, public governance, diversity and inclusion in public purchasing, contract administration, leadership and public construction.

During 2021, the Office continued to cultivate a diverse, skilled and engaged workforce dedicated to the highest standards of professional conduct within a supportive, inclusive and collaborative work environment. The Office’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee continued to strive to help the Office implement best practices to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. The DEI Committee presented a speaker series, bringing in renowned speakers to discuss topics such as healthcare equity and the 1961 Freedom Rides. It also began a coaching program, pairing experienced employees with employees new to the Office.

In July 2021, the Office welcomed two new Dr. Frances Burke Investigator Fellows and, in March 2022, the Office welcomed its second Justice Geraldine S. Hines Legal Fellow. The Office established the two-year fellowship programs in 2019 to improve its recruitment and retention of a talented and diverse workforce. The fellowships provide substantive and valuable experience to individuals with strong commitments to public service. 

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.

Additional Resources

Contact   for OIG Annual Report 2021: Highlights


One Ashburton Place, Room 1311, Boston, MA 02108

1 These findings are based on reasonable conclusions drawn from an analysis of Massachusetts State Police records, including troopers’ cruiser radio records and individual troopers’ work schedules. They are not definitive findings that the troopers were engaged in wrongdoing or not working in any law enforcement capacity.

Date published: April 29, 2022

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