Sarbanes Oxley for MA Government

(A plea for accountability – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

We have been bombarded with anecdotal stories about waste, fraud and abuse in the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, including the use and misuse of EBT cards.  Over the past year we have seen:

– 19,000 DTA recipients identified as being unable to be located by mailings.  A number which miraculously grew to over 40,000 when someone actually decided to count to returned envelopes;

– Over $20 million in SNAP benefits paid out to recipients who should not have received them for which we may have to pay back the federal government;

– Repeated reports from the Massachusetts Auditor about waste, fraud and corruption in various state departments; and

– The big kick in the taxpayers’ teeth, over $2 million in EBT benefits paid out to DEAD people.

The time has come for something serious to be done and beyond asking for recipients’ photos to be placed on the EBT cards.

What I am proposing is a modified governmental version of Sarbanes Oxley.

I want the Governor and Treasurer to be responsible for each and every department having controls in place to ensure that OUR assets and funds are being spent wisely and not wasted in the manners identified is the Auditor’s report.  There is no excuse for either the lack of controls or, if there are actually controls in place, the willful disregard for the controls.

So let’s have the Governor and Treasurer be required to attest to the sufficiency of the control environment for state Government and then let’s have them attest to the proper and effective functioning of said controls.

The attestation would be required annually just as for pubic companies and would be subject to the review of the Auditor.  ALL findings would be immediately public and there should be civil and criminal penalties associated with failures to adequately disclose issues, etc. just as there is in the private sector.

Civil penalties could include monetary and industry bars and bans just as in the private sector.  Just in this case the industry would be government and you could be barred from holding a government job, including elective office.

Criminal penalties, well, that should be enough to scare them a bit.

It’s OUR money.  It’s time we expect government and governmental leaders to respect us enough to take care of it.  We would never stand for a private company that let people run wild like Governor Patrick and DTA have.  So let’s put some requirements in place for them to do their jobs, these are controls that any competent manager and management team would have put in place so we aren’t asking for much, just the bare necessities, and if they don’t, real penalties.

Just a thought, but would love to see the caucus put this forward and have the Dems try to explain why the Government doesn’t need controls and why it isn’t the Governors responsibility to see that they are there and working.  Charlie Baker certainly gets it.  

I am certain Mass Fiscal and Pioneer could help draft a bill!

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