By: Auditor DiZoglio – (01/24)
It’s hard to believe it’s been just about a year since I was sworn in as Massachusetts’ Chief Accountability Officer – State Auditor.
I spent 2023 working toward fulfilling my commitments to you. This especially includes making sure Massachusetts delivers on the services and programs our residents rely upon; so that every individual is empowered regardless of our family background, bank balance, or zip code.
When I took on this role, the Office of State Auditor was already in the process of dozens of audits. This is because our office is mandated to audit more than 200 state entities, at least once every three years. And with most audits taking at least a year to complete, there are lots of people working on lots of different audits, all at once.
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Valley Patriot readers have previously read about our work with the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA). I’m grateful that I have been able to communicate these important findings, but this is just a piece of all that we have been doing this year.
Taking office in January 2023, I wanted to get to work quickly. But I thought about how, for many commuters in Massachusetts, getting to work can be anything but quick.
Nowhere is this lag more greatly felt than for our riders of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Trains catching fire, derailments, and delays should not be the accepted norm in a state like Massachusetts.
We can and must do better. That’s why our office has launched a performance and safety audit of the MBTA. It is our hope that, by shining a light on the MBTA’s processes and procedures, our audit will assist this new administration in addressing challenges.
The MBTA’s challenges often overshadow the role that other types of public transportation play in serving our commuters. Countless residents rely on non-rail public transportation – and ensuring the efficient delivery of those regional services is important.
That’s why we’ve released audits of eight Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) across the Commonwealth – including the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (think of those colorful MeVa buses) that have identified areas for improvement regarding how we serve persons with disabilities. Audits are intended to be helpful tools, and we are grateful to the RTAs that have already implemented our recommended changes to better serve residents.
Our disabled neighbors deserve equal access to services. The Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) is a state commission tasked with protecting adults with disabilities from the abusive acts or omissions of their caregivers through investigation oversight, public awareness, and prevention. Last year, our office released an audit that showed the DPPC had been consistently missing required state deadlines for abuse investigations.
It also did not have a system for identifying persons with repeated allegations of reported abuse. These failures are unacceptable, and we are currently planning a review of whether our recommendations for improvement were implemented effectively so that our disabled community is better protected.
While the above represents some completed audits, our team is currently auditing the Massachusetts Police Training Commission (MPTC). The MPTC is “responsible for the development, delivery, and enforcement of training standards of municipal, MBTA, environmental, UMass, campus police officers, and deputy sheriffs performing police duties and functions.” Our hope is that the MPTC continues to work with us to help ensure the development, delivery, and enforcement of recently revised training standards which promote increased accountability.
Thinking about the people who put their lives on the line for our safety, it’s impossible to not think of our veterans. It is imperative that we safeguard and ensure quality-of-life for our veterans by helping to identify and streamline services for those who may need to interact with multiple state agencies simultaneously.
Our office is conducting an audit of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home as part of our effort to guarantee our state is fulfilling its duties to all of our veterans and their families.
Speaking of homes, housing for everyone is certainly a topic that’s front and center. Limited inventory, increasing rents, and restrictions on zoning have all played a role in creating an environment where far too many residents can’t find or afford homes in the Commonwealth. That’s a big reason why our team has launched an audit of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) to review its programs and procedures. We are in a housing crisis and the Commonwealth’s economic stability hinges on everyday people being able to continue to live and work here.
Our goal with this audit is to confirm that existing programs are being maximized – or, if not, identifying how they can be – to the benefit of all.
Benefitting and serving all is an important concept as our office seeks to create space for all residents. That’s why our team is currently auditing the state’s Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) and analyzing and reporting on state contracting with minority-owned and women-owned businesses to highlight areas that require improvement. Incorporating an equity lens into our audit work is paramount as we work to address racial, gender and socio-economic disparities regarding access across state government.
Saying that we want to create space is important, but are we actually delivering? For decades, Massachusetts has had an independent commission focused on the needs of LGBTQ youth – however, the commission’s recommendations have been unevenly implemented. My office is examining the recommendations of the Commonwealth’s independent commissions dedicated to equity and justice – starting with the Commission on LGBTQ Youth.
Auditing can sound boring, but as you’ve just gotten a taste, our audits aren’t just about numbers – they’re about helping make government work better for all of us. As I’ve written, these performance audits are tools that can be used by agencies to make certain they are delivering on their mission. They’re tools that can help identify areas of improvement. And they’re tools for you – the people of Massachusetts – to advocate for better government.
This update is just the tip of all that’s happened in our first year. While I continue to travel the state to engage with people about our work, all of the audits I have written about remain available on our website. You can also sign up there for updates on many of the ongoing audits I mentioned – as well as the many I didn’t get to dive into, such as our audits of Non-Disclosure Agreements, the State Legislature, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, our Bureau of Special Investigation reports, and our Division of Local Mandates’ studies.
In the meantime, friends, thank you for your support and partnership. As always, feel free to contact our team at 617-727-2075 or at email@example.com.
Yours in service, Diana