Standing up campaign promises of auditor candidates

Bold pledges may bump up against demands of office

THE CANDIDATES for auditor, particularly the two Democrats, make the office seem pretty sexy.

Chris Dempsey, a leading transportation advocate who previously led the successful fight to prevent the Olympics from coming to Boston in 2024, says he intends to use the tools of the office to reform the State Police. He has also unveiled a climate and environmental justice initiative that would bring carbon accounting to state agencies and make sure the state is meeting the emission goals laid out in state law.

Sen. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen has plans that are even more expansive. She, too, intends to verify the state is meeting its climate change goals and intends to use the office’s audit powers to make sure the benefits of the MassSave energy efficiency program flow to low-income people. She suggests the auditor’s office under her supervision could transform state government.

 

“I will be an auditor who opens state government to everyone and shifts the balance of power back to working people,” she said in a recent interview with Jim Braude. “As auditor, I’m going to do a deep dive into our state agencies, including the Legislature, to analyze the processes and procedures that are taking place that are blocking access for working families into what’s going on behind closed doors on Beacon Hill and I’ll have subpoena authority to do that.”

It’s great to have ambitious goals, but the statue detailing the duties of the auditor’s office appears to be fairly constrictive. It requires the auditor to audit more than 200 governmental entities at least once every three years. The law is also fairly particular about how the audits should be conducted, which doesn’t leave a lot of time or room for freelancing.

As for DiZoglio’s plan to take a deep dive into the Legislature, that’s unlikely. The statute focuses on the executive branch of government and doesn’t give the auditor the authority to audit the Legislature.

Anthony Amore, the Republican candidate for auditor, has an agenda that’s more rooted in the realities of the job. He says his top priority would be to audit the office of the auditor, hiring an independent third party to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. He would also seek greater funding for the office, saying the current $20 million budget is not sufficient to meet the office’s statutory obligations.

“The Auditor’s Office has a history of not meeting the legal responsibility of auditing the Commonwealth’s 210 agencies at least once every three years,” Amore says on his campaign website. “Over the past 12 years, the number of annual audits performed by the Auditor’s Office has steadily declined. As a result, Massachusetts residents have seen government failures that could have been prevented.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Amore’s platform also calls for advocating for greater transparency in state government and leading by example to move the needle on that front. He says he would also dig into rising costs at state colleges and universities, which are putting upward pressure on tuition.

“Why did the new parking garage at UMass Boston cost $50,000 per parking space when the Bridgewater State garage cost $20,000 per space?” he asks. “Why did the UMass Boston dorms cost $527 per square foot when 4 miles away, at MassArt, the cost was $345 per square foot?”