PITTSFIELD -- Before she was elected in 2010, state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said she was hoping for the chance to conduct many audits.
She has kept true to her word.
The state auditor's office has undertaken 300 audits since Bump, a Great Barrington resident, became the first woman in state history to be elected to that position.
"I had done policy administration at the cabinet level," said Bump, who had previously served as Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, "but I really thought there were serious deficiencies in kind of the underpinning of operations, so I wanted my audits to go a little deeper into this whole idea of accountability, ‘Do we have the proper expectations for our program's ways of meeting success?' "
Bump made her remarks on Wednesday during a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce function at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. She believes state government has become more accountable since she became auditor.
"I think what we've done in the auditor's office is set a new agenda for accountability in government," Bump said, "and agencies across the board are taking notice. When the auditor comes in it's not just going to be about do you have the proper procedures in place, it's about ‘Are you following those proper procedures, are you spending money well, and are people getting the services that they are legitimately entitled to expect? ‘ "
Among her audits was a recent report on practices at the state Department of Transitional Assistance that initially wasn't well received.
Last year's audit of the DTA, which found the state had paid more than $2 million in benefits to 1,164 people who had been dead anywhere from six to 27 months, initially received harsh criticism from agency officials, and her boss, Gov. Deval Patrick.
"I was surprised at the way they reacted because in fact we had already shared our audit findings with the agency and they had already begun to act on them," she said.
"So when they tried to suggest that we were wrong we were quite surprised because they had already admitted to us we were right," she said.
"After we showed them how we did it they backed off," Bump said.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said Bump has taken the right approach to her office.
"She deserves a great deal of credit for the energy that she has brought to the office," Downing said. "She has aggressively pursued the goals that she talked about in her campaign around transparency and accountability. We should expect nothing less. She has done a great job."
In her remarks to the Chamber, Bump said she believed democracy is "wrecked" when disenchanted voters become "lost" customers.
Maintaining the public trust is a continuing process, she said, and a problem that can be solved not "with rhetoric but action."
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