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State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Addresses MassASPA Chapter
Suzanne Bump, state auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (SAO) spoke to the ASPA Massachusetts Chapter (MassASPA) saying, “Accountability is what motivates me in government. As you know, I was a legislator and a cabinet secretary. What I liked most about my service was the opportunity to fix systems that had gone off track and improve their service to the people of the Commonwealth.”
Speaking before an audience of public servants, consultants and academics, Auditor Bump stressed the value of transparency in her office. She noted that disclosing information from SAO agency audits provides valuable information to similar agencies. For example her office recently shared findings from an audit of a Massachusetts Housing Authority, giving constructive information to all state-wide Housing Agencies.
“Whether in the private or public sector, the auditor is often perceived by managers as an adversary,” said Suzanne Bump. “But, based on our common goals, I see us as partners in enhancing financial management, developing best practices and strengthening agency performance.”
Michael J. Ahn, UMass Boston professor, led the discussion with a penetrating query to the audience: “What is a proper balance between government accountability and effectiveness? In our changing environment, there is an increasing gap between the reality of increasingly complex and rapidly changing environment and government laws and regulations to address the environment. Here, being purely accountable to the law and regulations could mean poor performance in our rapidly changing environment, while being effective means going beyond what the current law or regulations specify. Striking a proper balance between government accountability and effectiveness becomes an increasingly important question for government to consider and the Office of State Auditor stands at the core of this decision making.”
Frances Burke, professor emerita, Suffolk University and president/founder of Integrity International, noted that Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) enactment was often thought of as ‘toothless.’ Yet auditor’s across the country know, as Auditor Bump knows, and she expanded on the fact that the SOX impact on “Auditor’s openness, accountability and rigorousness of Auditing” began exactly as the law formally stated.
During the question and answer period, a MassASPA member asked “How can government, all agencies, get better?” Auditor Bump responded: “Let’s make government work better by increasing its efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency.”
Rhode Island Chapter Hosts Public Administration Academy for High School Students
In early May, 20 high school students from Shea and Tolman High Schools of Pawtucket, RI, completed their participation in an annual Public Administration Academy held by ASPA’s Rhode Island Chapter. The students volunteered to participate in the Academy, a semester-styled program that teaches students about public management and public service, through their high schools.
The May 1, 2012, event, which included presentations by practitioners and scholars, was held at the Bay Center of Roger Williams University. This year’s theme was “Leadership” and participants were inspired on that topic by Mary Ann Peters, provost of the Newport Naval War College and former U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh. Michael Hall, director of the Roger Williams MPA program, served as coordinator of the events.
During the day, students heard from Marion Harris and Archie Morris of Bowie State College. There were also presentations by Kalekeni Banda and Omar Bah. Banda spoke of the work he has done in Northern Malawi focusing on The Chituka Village Project. Bah, a former journalist and MPA student at Roger Williams University, related his 2006 flight from Gambia to the United States. Presentations concluded with a Hassenfeld roundtable discussion on leadership in state and local government. Participants included East Greenwich Town Manager William Acquino and RI Deputy Treasure/General Counsel Mark Dingley.
At the end of the program, the students were presented with ASPA pins and certificates by ASPA President-Elect Stephen Condrey. The one-day forum was part of a three- event series organized by the ASPA Rhode Island Chapter to highlight public service. Other events included a panel discussion with state legislators and industry members such as the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. Another event was a feature presentation by Saul Kaplan of the Providence Business Innovation Factory.