Each legislative session, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) files proposals to promote transparency, efficiency and accountability in government.
In addition, the OIG reviews and comments on numerous pieces of legislation during each legislative session. Also, the OIG regularly assists individual legislators in both the development of legislation specific to the districts they represent, as well as legislation that affects the operation of state and local government. The OIG is often called on by legislators to meet with and provide guidance to municipalities on matters not related to legislation. The OIG also responds to requests from the Governor’s Office to review legislation that has been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Over many legislative sessions, the Inspector General has testified before legislative committees on issues related to economic stimulus, municipal relief, health care, public construction, ethics, and public cost-savings initiatives. In all cases, the main theme involved transparency and safeguards ensuring appropriate oversight of taxpayer dollars, while allowing for innovation.
The OIG also performs certain actions mandated by the legislature. These actions include, but are not limited to, reviewing real property transactions, approving construction manager at-risk and design-build applications, and reviewing matters related to Mass Health and the state Health Safety Net. Between 2009 and 2012 the Office also reviewed projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
An Act Relative to Chapter 12A - House Bill 4
The first proposal, An Act Relative to Chapter 12A, would amend the Office of the Inspector General’s enabling statute. Specifically, the proposal would:
- Clarify that the Office has access to all records of a public body unless the General Court expressly references the Inspector General and specifically limits the Inspector General’s right of access. This is based largely on the federal Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-317, 130 Stat. 1595 (2016).
- Permit the Office to issue interrogatories in connection with its investigations and audits.
- Allow the Office to refer a potential criminal matter to a district attorney in the same manner as a referral to the United States Attorney or the Attorney General.
- Require an individual to sign a certificate of compliance in response to a request for information or summons issued by the Office.
- Allow a member or designee of the Inspector General Council to attend a private session where testimony is given under oath, at the request of the Inspector General, but remove the attendance requirement. The role of the Inspector General Council otherwise remains the same, including approving summonses to take testimony under oath.
- Extend whistleblower protections to a complainant or informant who alerts the Office to potential fraud, waste and abuse of public dollars. Any person who violates this section would be subject to a fine and may be liable for damages.
Bill Text and Bill History: House Bill 4
An Act Relative to Inspector General Annual Reports - House Bill 5
The second proposal, An Act Relative to Inspector General Annual Reports, would consolidate the Office’s annual reports into one, comprehensive report. Specifically, the proposal would:
- Modify the date on which the Office’s two embedded units – the Internal Special Audit Unit and the Division of State Police Oversight – submit their annual reports to the Legislature.
- Include these reports as part of the Office’s annual report required under Section 12 of Chapter 12A.
- Require the Office to submit its consolidated annual report to the Joint Committee on Transportation and the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The Internal Special Audit Unit and the Division of State Police Oversight currently submit their annual reports to those committees.
Bill Text and Bill History: House Bill 5
An Act Relative to Chapter 30B (Technical Corrections) - House Bill 6
The third proposal, An Act Relative to Chapter 30B, would make technical corrections to Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act. Specifically, the proposal would:
- Correct statutory references based on recently enacted amendments to other statutes.
- Increase a fine that was set in 1989.
- Strike a section of Chapter 30B that is duplicative.
Bill Text and Bill History: House Bill 6
An Act Updating Chapter 30B - House Bill 7
The fourth proposal, An Act Updating Chapter 30B, would strengthen Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act, to promote best practices, fair competition and transparency. Specifically, the proposal would:
- Clarify certain definitions and remove certain exemptions that eliminate an awarding authority’s responsibility to follow the procurement procedures in Chapter 30B.
- Enhance the process for soliciting quotations and clarify that quotations cannot be negotiated, which would protect fair competition.
- Allow awarding authorities to use requests for proposals for procurements in the $10,000 to $50,000 range.
- Require an awarding authority to conduct a reasonable investigation to confirm that only one source exists when procuring utilities without following the statute’s competitive procedures.
- Permits that, during an emergency, if a procurement officer is unable to comply with Chapter 30B, within 30 days of executing the contract, they must submit a copy of the emergency procurement record for publication in the Goods and Services Bulletin. If the emergency prohibits timely submission, the procurement officer must submit as soon as possible.
- Clarify that a procurement officer may reject or cancel a solicitation if it is in the best interest of the awarding authority and the procurement officer documents the reason for the rejection or cancellation.
- Mandate that, when acquiring or disposing of real property, an awarding authority require an individual submitting a bid or proposal to sign a certificate of good faith.
- Clarify that an awarding authority may enter into a contract for any period of time as long it serves the best interests of the governmental body and does not conflict with any other statute.
- Permit awarding authorities to use in-person and electronic auctions to dispose of supplies.
- Require awarding authorities that do not have written procedures for the disposal of surplus supplies to use sound business practices to dispose of surplus supplies valued at less than $10,000.
- Require awarding authorities to use updated property valuations when disposing of real property.
- Mandates that if an awarding authority is unable to follow the statute’s requirements during an emergency that requires acquiring or disposing of real property, the awarding authority submit the emergency contract to the Central Register, within 30 days, unless the emergency prohibits submission. Similarly, if an awarding authority disposes of property for a price below the determined value, notification of the disposition must also be placed in the Central Register within 30 days.
- Add investigatory expenses to the costs and penalties that can be assessed for a violation of Chapter 30B.
- Permit the Office to promulgate regulations related to the enforcement and interpretation of Chapter 30B.
Bill Text and Bill History: House Bill 7
An Act Relative to Public Employee Time Fraud - House Bill 8
The fifth proposal, An Act Relative to Public Employee Time Fraud, protects municipalities, counties and the state when public employees submit false or fraudulent claims for hours worked. Specifically, the proposal would:
- Make public employees liable for damages and penalties for submitting false or fraudulent claims for hours they did not work.
Bill Text and Bill History: House Bill 8
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