By Bill Kirk
METHUEN — State Auditor Suzanne Bump vowed yesterday to continue pressing for reviews of state agencies as well as reforms of her own.
Bump, elected as state auditor in November 2010, took over the 290-employee agency from former auditor Joe DeNucci, who had held the post for more than three decades.
Speaking to about 20 people gathered at Jackson's Restaurant on Route 110 for a breakfast meeting of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, Bump said one of her first actions as auditor was to call for an independent review of the agency, which has a budget of around $20 million.
The review found numerous, serious flaws in the department, which led to Bump laying off 27 employees and demoting another 12. It was the first outside review done at the agency in 15 years, although one is supposed to be done every three years.
"There were deficiencies in planning, reporting and competence," she said. "It was a blow to the folks in the office. It set everyone back on their heels."
Since DeNucci had been able to conduct effective audits, nobody bothered to look more closely at the processes he was using, she said.
"He was auditing, but he wasn't meeting the standards of the U.S. Comptroller," she said in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune. She added, however, "It's hard to lay blame at any one person's feet. We just plan to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Shortly after announcing the results of the audit last week, former auditor DeNucci lashed out at Bump, saying the layoffs were unnecessary and being done because Bump was planning to run for governor.
Bump is in the process of reviewing every job and job description at the agency in an effort to modernize and streamline it so that it is in accordance with the recent audit conducted by the National State Auditors Association.
In addition, she said the agency is updating its manuals and auditing software so it can do a better job auditing state agencies to make sure they are in compliance with state laws and are operating in the most cost-effective way.
She said the agency now has about 260 employees and a budget of about $17 million.
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