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In addition to conducting audits to improve government performance, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) also works with the Massachusetts Legislature to pass laws that improve accountability and transparency in government, and provide new tools to bolster the work of the office. Below you will find laws that were brought forward by the State Auditor.
On January 13, 2017, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law HB4720, which was brought forward by Auditor Suzanne M. Bump. This measure changes certain statutorily required audit schedules to align with the OSA’s standard three year audit cycle, while allowing for discretionary audits of agencies that are at a lower risk of waste, fraud, and abuse. This change allows the OSA to use its resources more effectively.
This law ensures the Office of the State Auditor has the ability to audit state government contractors, vendors, grantees, and other entities, to ensure they are using tax dollars with accountability, and meeting their responsibilities to the residents of the Commonwealth.
To accomplish this, the law requires that contracts and agreements with the Commonwealth include a clause that provides the OSA with access to the entities accounts, books, records, and activities related to the service it provides.
The legislation enables BSI to more effectively carry out its mandated investigative responsibilities by giving BSI the authority to access certain tax records for the investigation of Medicaid (MassHealth) fraud cases.
In response to requests from municipalities to conduct audits and provide recommendations about how to improve performance, this law granted the OSA the ability to audit local government entities, and laid out a process for these entities to request an audit. Under the law, the governing body in a city, town, county, or regional school district can vote to request that the OSA conduct an audit, and requires that the local government entity pay for the audit. It also states that the State Auditor retains discretion on accepting these requests and has the final say on the nature and extent of the audit.
This law guarantees that the OSA has access to all records and documents related to an ongoing audit. It gives the OSA the ability, through action in Superior Court, to subpoena materials from an auditee who refuses repeated oral and written requests to provide these records for review. This limited subpoena power is a valuable tool for improving the effectiveness and timeliness of the audit process.
This legislation, on which the OSA worked closely with the State Comptroller, was filed in response to repeated audit findings that showed state agencies were not properly protecting state government assets. The law requires state agencies to develop and implement an internal accounting and administrative control system to protect state government property and finances from loss, theft, or damage. It also requires that the agency periodically evaluate its plan, and report all instances of loss, theft, of damage of state property or funds to the OSA immediately.