Thursday, May 05, 2011

MA Auditor Cleans House

The pug is pissed. MA Auditor of 24 years — and previously boxer in three decades — Joe DeNucci is fuming, pouting and publicly calling the new Auditor "crazy."

Suzanne Bump, it turns out, has turned out 27 of his long-term employees. As reported in the Herald and in the Globe, she did exactly what she promised when she ran. She audited her own shop first and cleaned house.

She based her firings and other changes on 1) internal assessments and 2) peer review by the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. That external review had not occurred in any of the previous 15 years; to put it bluntly, we flunked. As the summary put it in what is scathing in financial lingo:
In our opinion, because of the deficiencies described below, the system of quality control for performance audits of the Massachusetts Office of the State Auditor in effect for the period July 1, 2009, through December 31, 2010, has not been suitably designed and was not complied with during the period to provide reasonable assurance of conforming with government auditing standards.
It elaborated on major deficiencies in four areas — planning, competence, documentation and reporting. In other words, the works didn't work.

Bump's thorough but reasoned responses are long, long overdue. DeNucci strongly disagrees. He sounded like a boxer unhappy with the ref (I was robbed). The Herald quotes him as, "It’s kind of sad that she had to do all these things... She probably wouldn’t be where she is without me. She’s probably looking to run for governor." The Globe cites a phone interview with him as including, "There are a few of my good workers that I asked her to hold on to, and she didn’t. Whatever I did was fine, but she didn’t appreciate it and doesn’t appreciate it and this proves it. It’s crazy."

In contrast, Bump was her usual gracious self. She said that the deficiencies "were serious flaws," but added that "...this does not mean the office's work was without merit." She added that, "I'm sure Auditor DeNucci is going to be somewhat chagrined. It's a result of the fact, I think, that there hasn't been a review in some time."

You'd have to wonder what the erstwhile auditor was thinking for a decade and one half. He wanted us to believe in his audits of other government agencies, but he didn't let anyone audit his. Then 15 years on, he figures the only reasonable conclusion was that all was well during his tenure. There's someone unclear on the concept of auditing.

Praise to Bump!

I remind readers here that I endorsed her and followed her campaign for both primary and general. I saw this recent election as the greatest chance we had in decades to overhaul the tired, the inefficient, and the questionable. The Auditor was retiring, the Treasurer was stepping back to run for Governor, and there was a progressive running against the sitting Secretary of the Commonwealth. Bump, Steve Grossman, and independent Jim Henderson promised major improvements.

The latter was unable to unseat the Secretary, but the other two have their shots. I like to think that voters were eager, as I was and am, for serious change. We've had the old boys doing the old things for decades.

Bump is doing precisely what she promised. I look forward to more and better. When she can turn her troops to examining the rest of MA government, we should expect and demand great cost savings, vastly improved efficiencies, and likely streamlined departments.

I love this stuff and intend to watch Grossman and Bump for more and better.


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