Audit Finds Cultural Council Dedicated COVID-19 Funds Without Verification

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BOSTON — In an audit of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) found that MCC did not verify artists' eligibility prior to issuing grants totaling $1,456,000 from MCC's COVID-19 pandemic relief funding. 
 
The audit also found that MCC's Internal Control Plan (ICP) was not updated with a COVID-19 component. Additionally, the OSA found that MCC did not ensure all employees completed the required annual cybersecurity awareness training. The audit was conducted March 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.
 
"It is critical that state agencies and state-funded organizations, like MCC, have policies in place to closely monitor the way COVID-19 relief dollars and any public dollar spent. I am pleased that MCC is committed to making necessary improvements to their existing internal controls plan to properly comply with standards moving forward," said State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
 
The audit recommends that MCC establish policies and procedures to ensure all eligibility requirements are met prior to awarding grants from its COVID-19 pandemic relief funding. The audit also advised MCC implement a policy and identify an employee responsible for ensuring cybersecurity awareness training requirements are met on an annual basis.  
 
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) was created by Section 15 of Chapter 653 of the Acts of 1989. This act added Section 52 to Chapter 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws, establishing MCC within the Office of the State Treasurer (OST), but not making MCC subject to OST's control.
 
The OSA has placed an emphasis on examining cybersecurity awareness training at government agencies. Recently, Auditor Bump has released audits of the Office of the Attorney General, Division of Banks, and Office of the Inspector General, Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, most of which called on these agencies to improve their cybersecurity awareness training practices. 
 
To learn more about the OSA's recent audits that have reviewed the spending of federal pandemic relief funding, visit: mass.gov/COVIDReliefAudits.
 
The audit can be viewed here.

Tags: audit,   Mass Cultural Council,   

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Letter: Playing Ukraine National Anthem at Tanglewood on Parade Was Bad Idea

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

As recently reported by The Eagle in a piece by Clarence Fanto, at Tanglewood on Parade, the Ukrainian national anthem was played. Many in the shed and the lawn stood up in support. While I would certainly concede that Russia is the worst of the two countries in terms of human rights abuses, Ukraine has many despicable aspects to it of which I am highly confident almost all the people standing were ignorant.

Boston Pops conductor Thomas Wilkins said, "The Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony stands with the people of Ukraine, and salutes all who stand for democracy and against injustice, and are willing to sacrifice everything for their freedom." Ironically, Mr. Wilkins also made reference to the rights of the Ukrainian people to have self-determination.

Let me explain why I used the word "ironic." While most Americans do not know it, the present government of Ukraine obtained power by a violent coup in 2014. The Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution, took place in Ukraine in February 2014 at the end of the Euromaidan protests, when a series of violent events involving protesters, riot police, and unknown shooters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv culminated in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. In a Cato piece titled, "America's Ukraine Hypocrisy," Ted Galen Carpenter writes: "Despite his leadership defects and character flaws, Yanukovych had been duly elected in balloting that international observers considered reasonably free and fair — about the best standard one can hope for outside the mature Western democracies."

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