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During the 2017-18 Massachusetts legislative session, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump has brought forward the Accountability Agenda to build public trust in government. These bills will ensure that government is acting with accountability, and leveraging the power of innovative technology and data to enhance performance and improve transparency.
Learn more about the pieces of the Accountability Agenda below.
The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) is tasked with providing independent oversight of entities receiving state funds to ensure they are responsibly using taxpayer dollars. However, it is limited in its ability to provide the same level of scrutiny to the department that collects those tax dollars—the Department of Revenue (DOR). While the OSA is able to audit operational aspects of the DOR—such as how it is protecting filing cabinets and other property from theft or loss—it is unable to conduct audits to ensure DOR is effectively managing activities that are at the heart of the department’s mission—those that deal with collection and oversight of tax revenue. The Revenue Accountability Act will allow the OSA to access tax return information for audit purposes. Examples of the types of audits the OSA could conduct upon passage of this act include: an examination of whether DOR is properly remitting to municipalities appropriate revenue collected through local option taxes, reviewing whether agencies are confirming wage eligibility for public assistance programs, and ensuring DOR is garnishing tax returns of individuals who owe delinquent child support.
Current status: Assigned to the Committee on Revenue
While traditional auditing relies on samples of physical files from state entities to draw conclusions about how those entities are meeting their responsibilities, OSA has been a leading force for innovation in the field. It has used technological advancements to rely less on small samples of files, and instead uses data to examine entire entities to assess their performance. The Accountability Through Data Access Act would provide OSA auditors with the same access to the digital data of auditees that they have to physical data and files. This measure would ensure that state laws keep up with the pace of innovation.
Current status: Assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means
The Accountability for Taxpayer Assets Act will give the State Comptroller, in consultation with the State Auditor, the ability to establish regulations related to existing reporting requirements for state agencies and departments regarding their processes and plans to mitigate risks to taxpayer assets.
This proposal would require state agencies to file municipal impact statements with the Division of Local Mandates (DLM), the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Local Government Advisory Committee when adopting, amending, or repealing regulations.
Currently, state agencies are required under Executive Order 145 to file a local impact statement on proposed regulations with the Local Government Advisory Committee and the Department of Housing and Community Development. Providing DLM with access to municipal impact statements would enable DLM to be more responsive with feedback on proposed regulatory changes.
Current status: Referred to Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight