Audit Leads to Enhanced Oversight of Overtime and Payroll Expenses at Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department

Boston, MA – In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump called on the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) to improve its oversight of overtime and payroll spending. Bump’s audit identified $25,599 in payroll expenses made by SCSD that were not properly approved, as a result, the Department faces an increased risk that compensation, including overtime, provided to the correction officers may be inappropriate. In response to the audit, the SCSD reports it has taken steps to improve its payroll approval process.

Bump’s audit reviewed a date on which each of the 43 correction officers receiving the most overtime pay reported working an overtime shift. The audit found that 38 of the 43 correction officers examined were paid for overtime hours that were not approved by an SCSD shift commander, and there was no evidence that the overtime had been properly reviewed by the assistant superintendent of operations or his/her designee, as required by the agency’s payroll processing procedures. The audit also found these individuals were paid on these same days for non-overtime work hours that were also not properly approved.

“It is critical that the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department be diligent in its oversight and approval of payroll expenses to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted or misspent,” said Bump of the audit. “While we found no specific malicious actions, our audit makes clear that the overtime approval process that was in place at the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department left it susceptible to fraud by bad actors. I commend Sheriff Tompkins and his staff for taking quick action to strengthen oversight in these areas.”

Additionally, Bump’s audit found the SCSD did not submit required inmate total cost analysis reports for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to the appropriate government entities within the established timeframe. The audit recommends that the SCSD obtains the information needed to ensure these annual reports, which inform legislative decision making, are completed in a timely manner.

The initial audit period of July 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017, was extended to April 26, 2018, to review additional matters related to overtime expenses.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department operates the Suffolk County House of Correction and the Suffolk County Jail House, both located in Boston. During the audit period, the SCSD had 1,129 employees, including 836 correction officers who are responsible for overseeing inmates and federal detainees. In fiscal year 2018, the SCSD received $105,516,371 in state appropriations, as well as $3,274,380 from ICE for housing federal detainees. During fiscal year 2018, the SCSD paid correction officers $3,688,303 in overtime expenditures.

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