History of the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General

Established in 1981 at the recommendation of the Special Commission Concerning State and County Buildings, the OIG has a broad mandate under M.G.L. c. 12A, to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse in the use of public funds and public property.


The OIG was established in 1981 as the first statewide Inspector General's Office in the country. It was created in the wake of a major construction procurement scandal. In 1980, the Special Commission Concerning State and County Buildings (usually referred to as the "Ward Commission" after its Chairman, John William Ward) released its final report on corruption in the award of state and county building projects. The Commission found that billions of dollars had been wasted on building projects. The 12-volume Ward Commission Report concluded that:

  • Corruption was a way of life in the Commonwealth.
  • Political influence, not professional performance, was the prime criterion in doing business with the state.
  • Shoddy work and low standards were the norm.

Creation of the Office was seen as part of the solution to the identified problems in public building contracting and also to a more fundamental need for an established oversight agency. The Commission believed that periodic investigation by special commissions was not a good approach to dealing with problems:

If public life relies upon spasmodic outrage to create special commissions to correct the ills of public life, then public life is in dire shape, indeed. That is why the Special Commission created the Office of the Inspector General, to build the capacity for self-correction into government itself ... [Emphasis added.]

The Commission noted that the state did have an Attorney General and a State Auditor, but it found a "vast middle ground". . .

between the ability to review all state transactions to a limited degree without the power to investigate [i.e., the Auditor], and the power to investigate allegations of fraud on a case-by-case basis [i.e., the Attorney General]. . .

As a result of the Commission's work, the Legislature created the OIG in Chapter 388 of the Acts of 1980. Its enabling statute is Chapter 12A of the General Laws. (M.G.L. c. 12A)

The Governor, State Auditor, and Attorney General appoint the Inspector General to a five year term. 

Massachusetts Inspectors General

The first Inspector General, Joseph R. Barresi, served two terms from 1981 to 1991. 

The second Inspector General, Robert A. Cerasoli, served two terms from 1991 to 2001. 

The third Inspector General, Gregory W. Sullivan, served two terms from 2001-2012.

Glenn A. Cunha was sworn in as the fourth Inspector General on August 6, 2012 and was reappointed on July 25, 2017 for a second five-year term.

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