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The Massachusetts State College Building Authority Did Not Ensure That the Financial Information It Submitted for Inclusion on the Comptroller of the Commonwealth’s CTHRU Website Was Accurate.

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

Table of Contents

Overview

The Massachusetts State College Building Authority (MSCBA) did not verify the accuracy of all the information it submitted to the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF) for inclusion on the Comptroller of the Commonwealth’s (CTR’s) searchable CTHRU website during our audit period. As a result, its financial activities are not reported accurately to the public. For the 8 projects we sampled out of the 48 that were started during the audit period, CTHRU showed $10,538,940 less in project expenses than what was recorded in MSCBA’s financial records (its general ledger). The differences were the result of 101 duplicate entries MSCBA submitted to EOAF for inclusion on CTHRU, totaling $2,841,849, and 159 transactions that were recorded in MSCBA’s general ledger but not on CTHRU, totaling $13,380,789. The table below shows the net difference between the total expenditure amount recorded in the general ledger and that recorded on CTHRU for each of the projects sampled.

Project Number

General Ledger

CTHRU Total

Net Difference

FIT 0790-16

$   3,853,833

$  4,742,983

$   (889,150)

FIT 0820-17

     2,000,406

        382,204

     1,618,202

FRA 0802-17

     1,614,770

        779,054

        835,716

FIT 0782-16

     8,687,135

        835,013

     7,852,122

MCLA 0784-16

     2,648,390

    2,995,108

      (346,718)

MMA 0800-17

     2,060,480

    2,632,733

      (572,253)

SAL 0793-16

         862,573

          21,735

        840,838

WES 0801-17

     1,329,232

        129,049

     1,200,183

Total

$ 23,056,819

$ 12,517,879

$ 10,538,940

Authoritative Guidance

Section 14C of Chapter 7 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires agencies, including quasi-public independent entities, to report their “appropriations, expenditures, grants, subgrants, loans, purchase orders, infrastructure assistance and other forms of financial assistance” to EOAF for inclusion on CTHRU. Section 14C(e) states,

All agencies shall provide to the secretary [of EOAF] 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.

CTHRU was created to provide transparency to the public, which requires accountability.

Reasons for Noncompliance

MSCBA does not have policies and procedures to ensure that the financial information submitted to EOAF for inclusion on CTHRU reconciles to the data in its general ledger. In addition, MSCBA officials told us that during the period in question, there was a technical issue that prevented quasi-public agencies such as MSCBA from downloading data from CTHRU so they could compare it to the information in their general ledgers.

Recommendation

MSCBA should develop policies and procedures to ensure that the financial information submitted to EOAF for inclusion on CTHRU reconciles to its general ledger.

Auditee’s Response

The Authority accepts the recommendation to ensure accuracy of CTHRU data. . . . The Authority unequivocally supports the goals of CTHRU and was the first quasi-public entity to participate in CTHRU as it transitioned from Open Checkbook. The Authority acknowledges variances between CTHRU project expenses and . . . the Authority’s general ledger. The Authority has confirmed that the data is accurate through December 31, 2018 and a quarterly review of all uploaded data has been added to our CTHRU procedures to ensure the accuracy of data in the future.

Auditor’s Reply

Based on its response, MSCBA has taken measures to address our concerns in this area.

Date published: March 12, 2019
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