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The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Did Not Submit Required Financial Information to the Commonwealth to Be Made Available to the Public on a Searchable Website.

Audit found that the CCRTA did not provide the public with a sufficient level of transparency regarding its operations and expenses.

Table of Contents

Overview

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) did not submit required financial information about its operations (e.g., expenditures) to the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF) so this information could be made available to the public on a searchable website. Therefore, CCRTA did not allow the Commonwealth to give the public a sufficient level of transparency regarding CCRTA’s operations, including its overall financial health and the nature and extent of its expenses.

Authoritative Guidance

Section 14C of Chapter 7 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires agencies, including quasi-public independent entities such as CCRTA, to report their “appropriations, expenditures, grants, subgrants, loans, purchase orders, infrastructure assistance and other forms of financial assistance” to the Secretary of EOAF for inclusion on the searchable website of the Office of the State Comptroller. Section 14C(e) states, “All agencies shall provide to the secretary all data that is required to be included in the searchable website not later than 30 days after the data becomes available to the agency.”

Reasons for Noncompliance

In its response to our draft report, CCRTA senior management stated,

The RTAs as a group proposed a low cost alternative to their participation in this initiative, which involved publication of the financial data on the RTAs’ individual websites. . . . Chapter 7, Section 14C under clause (g) contemplates and provides for the redirection of the public from the State’s Open Checkbook website to other government websites as long as each of those websites complies with the requirements of this section.

Consequently, CCRTA stated, it believed the financial reporting on its website complied with the “spirit and transparency goal” of the transparency initiative. It also stated,

The CCRTA has made a concerted effort over the years to comply with the spirit and transparency goal of the Chapter 7, Section 14C “Open Checkbook (CTHRU)” initiative through the publication of its payroll and financial payment information, audited financial statements, and approved fiscal year budgets on its website in a searchable format. We believe the financial information currently contained on our website provides the public with a sufficient level of transparency regarding the CCRTA’s operations, including its overall financial health and the nature and extent of its expenses. As a matter of routine, we direct public requests for CCRTA’s financial information to the Open Government section of our website, which in most instances satisfies the public’s request for information. In those rare cases a request for information is not contained on our website, we treat it as a Public Information Request and quickly respond to the individual, generally at no cost. Interestingly, these types of specialized requests, in most instances, would not be available through the data information elements presently contained in the State’s Open Checkbook (CTHRU) searchable format website.

Recommendations

  1. CCRTA should develop formal policies and procedures for submitting this required information to EOAF.
  2. CCRTA should establish monitoring controls to ensure that the staff members assigned to this task adhere to these policies and procedures.

Auditee’s Response

In the future, the CCRTA plans on taking the necessary steps to report its financial information to the EOAF Secretary for inclusion on the Office of the State Comptroller’s searchable website (i.e. “CTHRU”). Recent conversations with the State Comptroller’s Office regarding the RTAs’ participation in the “CTHRU” website have been very encouraging and early indications appear to provide for technical assistance help and ongoing maintenance costs at no expense to the RTAs. This latest development removes a major financial impediment to the CCRTA’s full participation in the Commonwealth’s “CTHRU” system and we look forward to working with the Comptroller’s Office and other RTAs to achieve the goal of full financial reporting as envisioned under Chapter 7, Section 14c.

Auditor’s Reply

Based on its response, CCRTA is taking measures to ensure that it reports this required information to EOAF.

Date published: July 2, 2018
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