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OIG COVID-19 Updates: What You Need to Know

Here at the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), we remain committed to serving you during the COVID-19 public health emergency without interruption. This page provides the latest updates on our programs and ongoing work, as well as relevant information from other agencies of the Commonwealth.

While our physical office is closed, our staff continues to telework Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our hotlines for reporting public fraud, waste and abuse are available 24/7. We continue to provide public purchasing assistance through our Chapter 30B hotline. Our Massachusetts Certified Public Procurement Official (MCPPO) classes have moved online. We are conducting investigations and reviews, our work related to fraud prevention and more. Check out our mission, vision and values page to learn more about us. We also encourage you to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates from our office.

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Schedule a Virtual Meeting with our Chapter 30B Team to Address Your Public Procurement Questions

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, many procurement officers have needed to delegate their authority to staff with little, if any, public procurement knowledge. Or procurement officers find themselves facing procurement-related questions that have never been raised before. 

To assist our colleagues in public procurement, we are now offering virtual meetings for you and other staff in your jurisdiction. If you would like a virtual appointment via ZOOM or another meeting platform, please contact us at 30BHotline@state.ma.us. We can schedule meetings of up to one hour with you and your staff to discuss Chapter 30B issues or other challenges that you are facing during this emergency. We can also provide a brief primer for employees or officials new to public procurement. We are here to help you navigate public procurement, and this is a new way to assist you. 

For staff new to public procurement, we encourage you to have them tune into our short 22-minute Chapter 30B YouTube video so that they can learn the basics of local procurement law. 

 

Please feel free to continue to use our Chapter 30B Hotline email or hotline telephone number at (617) 722-8838. Our team of specialists is trained in public procurement and can advise you on interpreting, analyzing and applying the provisions of the law. Chapter 30B has not been suspended, waived or altered. The design and construction procurement statutes remain unchanged as well.

Explore our website for more on public procurement as well as information about our classes. We also encourage you to visit our frequently updated COVID-19 and Chapter 30B FAQ page. 

Additional Resources

OIG Fraud Hotlines: Open

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, our confidential hotlines remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to receive your tips and complaints about fraud, waste or abuse of public funds and resources.

We treat all complaints and tips confidentially. You can report your complaint without giving your name. You may be prompted to leave a message when calling our hotline number. We carefully review each complaint and tip we receive.

Wrongdoers are taking advantage of the public health emergency to carry out scams and fraud schemes. We have created a page to inform you about how to protect public funds from COVID-19 fraud. 

Procurement Measures During the COVID-19 Pandemic - OIG Letter to Commonwealth Officials

The Office of the Inspector General wrote a letter to agency heads, chief financial officers and procurement officials with guidance to safeguard public funds during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Additional Resources

New IGR Regarding Applications to the Commissioner for Authority to Abate Taxes

The Division of Local Services’ Bureau of Municipal Finance Law has issued Informational Guideline Release (IGR) 20-10 containing guidance regarding Applications for Authority from the Commissioner of Revenue to Abate Local Taxes and Charges Under G.L. c. 58, s. 8. You may also wish to visit our “8 of 58” applications page.

To review other recent DLS Bulletins and Informational Guideline Releases, please visit the DLS website

Design and Construction

The Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has posted an FAQ page regarding the public construction laws and COVID-19 to help awarding authorities comply with the public construction bidding laws in light of the impact of COVID-19. 

Emergency Changes to Notary Requirements

The legislature recently made emergency changes to Chapter 222 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the law that governs the appointment of and activity of notaries public in Massachusetts. [See Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2020]. This legislation will remain in effect until three days after the Governor lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency. At that time, the law will be repealed. 

Certain documents, including many related to public procurement, contracting and real property transactions, require notarization. Chapter 222 required these documents to be signed and witnessed in the physical presence of a notary public. The emergency legislation now permits notaries to use videoconferencing to witness document signing. The new legislation requires that:

  • The notary and any signatories must be present in Massachusetts for the videoconference.
  • The signatory must provide evidence of their identity and show both sides of a government identification to the notary during the videoconference.
  • A signatory must disclose if any other person is present and that person must be made visible to the notary.
  • The notary must observe the signatory sign or execute the document to be notarized.
  • Following the proceedings, the signatory must submit the physical copy with the wet ink signature to the notary
  • The notary’s signature and stamp must specify that the notary witnessed the event remotely.
  • The notary must create a video and audio file of the conference, and then maintain that file for ten years.
  • The notary must prepare an affidavit confirming the circumstances of the notarization, and must retain the affidavit for ten years.

Most transactions will require only one videoconference. However, certain real estate transactions, including deeds and mortgages, will require two separate videoconferences to complete the transaction. 

Additional COVID-19 Resources from the Commonwealth

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) offers a wealth of resources on its COVID-19 public health emergency website on a broad range of topics, including:

  • Health care and insurance
  • Employee and civil rights
  • Earned sick time
  • Small businesses
  • Child care
  • Resources for immigrant communities

Contact

Phone

Main Office (617) 727-9140

Open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., M-F

Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline (800) 322-1323

24-hour Confidential Reporting

Chapter 30B Assistance Hotline (617) 722-8838

Available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F

MassDOT Fraud Hotline (855) 963-2580

24-hour Confidential Reporting

MCPPO Classes and Training Inquiries (617) 722-8884
Media Inquiries (617) 722-8822

Let us know which language you will need when first contacting us.

Online

Report fraud, waste or abuse of government funds or property to the OIG OIG Confidential Online Fraud Reporting Form  
Report fraud, waste or abuse of government funds or property related to public transportation OIG Confidential Online Reporting Form for Fraud Related to Public Transportation 
Chapter 30B Assistance Hotline Email 30BHotline@mass.gov
MCPPO Classes and Trainings Inquiries MA-IGO-Training@mass.gov

Address

One Ashburton Place
Room 1311
Boston, MA 02108
Image credits:  George Headley
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