Audit Leads to Improved Tracking of Race Statistics at Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) that calls on the agency to improve its case-management system to ensure it is collecting data on the race of participants in its vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. VR programs provide rehabilitation and social services to help people with disabilities find and retain employment. Bump’s audit found MCB’s electronic case-management system did not have information about the race in nearly 10 percent of open participant records.

In its response to the audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2016, through December 31, 2017, MCB reports the deficiency was the result of its transition from its older database to its current database. MCB indicated it has since made it a requirement that race information be indicated in its database and corrected the deficient records.

“The failure to maintain accurate records on program participant race means the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind cannot adequately evaluate how well it is reaching and serving traditionally underrepresented communities,” said Bump of the audit. “The steps the Commission reports taking in response to our audit will help it better guide its outreach efforts and prevent similar problems in the future.”

Bump’s audit also found MCB did not have a system to track informal complaints it received from clients or constituents who may have been dissatisfied with services provided. During the audit period, MCB was only reporting and recording formal complaints that require additional review. The audit recommends that MCB train its staff to properly record all complaints, including informal ones, as well as establish a system to centrally monitor the information. In its response, MCB reports taking measures to address these concerns.

The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind provides rehabilitation and social services to the state’s residents who are legally blind. MCB has offices in Boston, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester and at the end of the audit period had 137 employees. The Commission received $22,419,621 in state funding for fiscal year 2018. As of December 31, 2017, 26,976 people who are legally blind were registered with MCB.

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