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Bump releases report critical of DeNucci
Auditor terminates 27 employees, demotes 12 others
May 05, 2011
Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump unveiled a highly critical report on the condition of the office she inherited today, driving a wedge between herself and her predecessor, longtime auditor Joe DeNucci.
Bump asked the National State Auditors Association to review the operations of the auditor’s office in the final six months of DeNucci’s tenure. The review found what Bump called “serious flaws” in the way the auditor’s office managed its personnel and conducted its investigations. It was the first outside assessment of the auditor’s office in 15 years, Bump said.
As a result of the report’s “unsparing assessment” of the auditor’s office, Bump said she was terminating 27 employees and demoting 12 others. Bump had previously fired or accepted the resignation of 37 of DeNucci’s staffers. With today’s moves, she has turned over more than a quarter of DeNucci’s staff. New employee evaluations Bump is instituting could result in additional personnel moves.
Bump faced repeated questions about her independence while on the campaign trail. She is a former Democratic lawmaker, and served in the cabinet of Gov. Deval Patrick, whose bureaucracy her office now audits. DeNucci’s endorsement was a major reason why she qualified for the Democratic ballot, and critics questioned her political relationship with the man who had served as state auditor for 24 years. In endorsing her opponent, the Boston Globe said Bump had “tarnished her reform credentials by accepting the endorsement of DeNucci, and then failing to criticize him for giving across-the-board raises to his staff.”
The outside report found several problems with the operations of the auditor’s office. It detailed problems with audit documentation, reporting, and planning, and it uncovered shortfalls in quality controls. It also questioned the competence of the office’s staffing and management.
For instance, DeNucci’s office maintained no minimum educational requirements for staffers. Out of a sample of 23 staffers, only seven had a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance; five didn’t have any sort of four-year degree. The report also uncovered haphazard or nonexistent employee oversight. In 12 of 15 sample reports the outside auditors reviewed, DeNucci’s office hadn’t taken proper steps to detect and report fraud.
“I’m sure Auditor DeNucci is going to be somewhat chagrined” at the report’s findings, Bump said. “I still have enormous respect for the work Joe has done over his career.”
Bump repeatedly said the deficiencies the report outlined did not mean that the reports written under DeNucci were “without merit, or their results without foundation.” But she said the report is prompting her to overhaul operations and performance assessment within her office. She said she envisions the auditor’s office “perform[ing] at a higher level of scope and taking a broader view” of government operations, adding, “A higher level of inquiry takes a higher level of skill than was necessary to perform the historic work of the office.”