OIG Legislative Initiatives - 2019

The Inspector General submitted four legislative proposals for the 2019 session of the General Court.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reviews and comments on numerous pieces of legislation during each legislative session. In addition, the OIG regularly assists individual legislators in both the development of legislation specific to the districts they represent, as well as legislation that affects the operation of state and local government. The OIG is often called on by legislators to meet with and provide guidance to municipalities on matters not related to legislation. The OIG also responds to requests from the Governor’s Office to review legislation that has been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Over many legislative sessions, the Inspector General has testified before legislative committees on issues related to economic stimulus, municipal relief, health care, public construction, ethics, and public cost-savings initiatives. In all cases, the main theme involved transparency and safeguards ensuring appropriate oversight of taxpayer dollars, while allowing for innovation.

The OIG also performs certain actions mandated by the legislature. These actions include, but are not limited to, reviewing real property transactions, approving construction manager at-risk and design-build applications, and reviewing matters related to Mass Health and the state Health Safety Net. Between 2009 and 2012 the Office also reviewed projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

2019 Legislative Proposals

An Act Relative to Higher Education Boards of Trustees - House 8

The first proposal would require every member of a board of trustees for an institution of higher education in Massachusetts to participate in training provided by the Department of Higher Education. The proposal also states that membership on the board of trustees shall terminate if a member fails to complete a training program.

An Act Relative to Chapter 12A - House 9

The second proposal would amend the Office of the Inspector General’s enabling statute. Based on the federal Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-317, 130 Stat. 1595 (2016), the proposal strengthens the Office’s ability to carry out its mandate of preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse by clarifying that the Office has access to all records of a public body unless the General Court expressly references the Inspector General and specifically limits the Inspector General’s right of access. The proposal would also allow the Office to refer a potential criminal matter to a district attorney in the same manner as a referral to the United States Attorney or the Attorney General. Further, the proposal allows a member or designee of the Inspector General Council to attend a private session where testimony is given under oath, at the request of the Inspector General, but removes the attendance requirement. The role of the Inspector General Council otherwise remains the same, including approving summonses to take testimony under oath. Finally, the proposal extends whistleblower protections to non-public employees of state contractors who alert the Office to potential fraud, waste and abuse of public dollars. Any person who violates this section would be subject to a fine and may be liable for damages.

An Act Relative to Chapter 30B - House 10

The third proposal would increase a fine and make technical corrections to Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act. The technical changes update Chapter 30B to include correct statutory references based on recently enacted amendments to other statutes. The proposal also strikes a section of Chapter 30B that is duplicative.

An Act Revising Chapter 30B - House 11

The fourth proposal would augment certain sections of Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act, to promote best practices, fair competition and transparency. Under the proposed revisions, awarding authorities would be able to use requests for proposals for procurements in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. The proposal also clarifies that quotations solicited for goods and services cannot be negotiated. Further, awarding authorities that do not have written procedures for the disposal of surplus supplies would be required to use sound business practices to dispose of surplus supplies valued at less than $10,000. The proposal also would require contractors to notify the Office of the Inspector General when it has credible evidence of criminal conduct, civil violations or overpayments. Finally, the Office would be permitted to promulgate regulations related to the enforcement and interpretation of Chapter 30B.

 

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