State Comptroller Says Failure To Report Trooper Pay Was 'Wrong' And 'Deliberate'

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In this 2006 file photo, a Massachusetts state trooper keeps watch over travelers making their way through Logan International Airport in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)
In this 2006 file photo, a Massachusetts state trooper keeps watch over travelers making their way through Logan International Airport in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The Massachusetts State Police announced Wednesday that it will now directly pay its troopers assigned to patrol Boston's Logan Airport and other Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) properties.

That's after a Boston Globe report found that officials did not properly disclose payroll records for the 140-trooper division known as Troop F, whose territory covers the airport and parts of the Seaport. Nearly 80 percent of the troop earned more than $150,000 last year, with troopers reporting many hours of overtime.

Following the report's release Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker swiftly called for an evaluation of payroll reporting processes, and said he believes it was "clearly deliberate" that the records were not reported on the state comptroller's website for nearly a decade.

Tom Shack, comptroller for the state, joined us. He explained that as the comptroller's office moves to get the missing payroll data onto its website, the paychecks of Troop F troopers will be handled by the state police going forward, with Massport reimbursing the agency.

Interview Highlights

On if he agrees with Baker on filing decision being 'deliberate'

"I think it's impossible for me as comptroller, and/or as a lawyer, to climb into the mind of someone else. I do agree with the governor from the standpoint that somebody at some point had to make a decision — and that decision was to not provide this data to the comptroller's office in a way that could be converted into the transparency mechanism or the payroll system. And that's problematic.

"We just simply don't know what anybody was thinking. I would say that, no matter what, you had to be aware that person, or those people, had to be aware of the fact they were doing something that was wrong.

"The action is deliberate. I can't say that it's nefarious, but I can say that someone had to make a determination at some point — either with the state police or elsewhere — that this information was not going to be provided to the comptroller."

On 8 years of missing data

"I have insisted that it be turned over to my staff for analysis within 48 hours. So, what we will do is provide a quality control check on the data once we receive it; make sure that it's compatible with the data points that we have currently in the payroll system; and then upload it onto a special new button that will exist under the quasi-agencies that will be on our website."

On what happens next

"One of the things that we've been espousing for quite a long time is the fact that our payroll system is really 'warmed-over' 1980s technology and that there are many, many systems that are much more secure, much more transparency-friendly. And we've been trying to identify those for the past year and a half now, and we're very hopeful that the Legislature and the governor and other constitutional officers will support us in developing a new system that will be state-of-the-art and will provide us with the ability to be able to hold every agency head accountable with a dashboard that will show exactly how many employees they have, and exactly what they make."

This article was originally published on March 28, 2018.

This segment aired on March 28, 2018.


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Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.


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Kassandra Sundt was a Radio Boston producer and reporter at WBUR. She started at the station as a Here & Now intern in 2010.



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