Kevin Lembo is currently serving his third term as Connecticut state comptroller.
Having never previously run for any elected office, Lembo had an unconventional path to public service. He spent decades working as a public health advocate before his first successful election for state comptroller in 2010. Lembo is the first openly gay statewide elected official in Connecticut.
Lembo was the first in his family to attend college after growing up in a middle-class working neighborhood in Paterson, NJ where his parents and grandparents made a living in the manufacturing industry and in clerical positions. Those formative years have had a lasting influence on his current public policy positions as he remembers his family's experiences living through boom-and-bust cycles and work-related injuries that, at one point, cost them their sole source of income and health care.
"My parents were people who did everything they were 'supposed' to do - work hard, put food on the table and a roof over our heads - but at times, like many people today, they found themselves unable to fully support their family,” Lembo said. "As a result of my own personal experiences, I'm a firm believer in public programs that help lift people up - but do so in ways that are responsible and financially sustainable."
As a young adult, Comptroller Lembo was first compelled to public health advocacy as he was watching people die in the early years of the AIDS pandemic.
"Our government wasn't doing anything, the media wasn’t covering it - and people were dying," Lembo said.
Comptroller Lembo later continued his college education to refine his skills in health policy and government administration and has since worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He served as program director for an AIDS education, prevention and primary care program and helped develop an innovative long-term home care program for all in New York that successfully prevented premature and permanent admissions to nursing facilities.
Comptroller Lembo was ultimately drawn to Connecticut and now lives in Guilford with his spouse of more than 30 years, Charles Frey. They have three sons.
Lembo and Frey chose Connecticut as their home nearly two decades ago for its quality of life, location, diversity and overall potential. After serving as assistant comptroller, Lembo was appointed Connecticut’s first state Healthcare Advocate in 2004. He subsequently spent years helping thousands of residents navigate the complexities of the health care system; advocated for patients denied coverage for treatment; and returned millions of dollars to consumers.
Beginning with his career as an advocate, Lembo has always had an appreciation for the power and necessity of data in driving policy decisions - and has often been frustrated by the lack of data-driven policies in government.
After years of banging on the door of government for one public health related issue after another, Comptroller Lembo decided that he could more effectively influence public policy by pushing through government's door and holding it open on the other side. So he ran for statewide office.
Comptroller Lembo has used his position as administrator of the state health plan - serving approximately 200,000 public employees and retirees - to develop innovative preventive care and wellness programs, reduce costs and improve care quality. Lembo acted quickly to protect the state plan and employees from the outrageous costs of medically unnecessary and unregulated compound drugs following a sudden and questionable surge in compound prescriptions. His action immediately curbed these questionable practices.
As the state's chief fiscal guardian, he has used his office to serve as an independent voice in reporting on the state’s financial and economic outlook. With an emphasis on finding common ground across sectors and politics, Lembo has developed and implemented several ongoing fiscal policy initiatives with common goals: taming Connecticut's revenue volatility and achieving financial stability and predictability.
Those initiatives include a law that will reform Connecticut's Budget Reserve Formula - building the state's reserve, while ensuring that Connecticut only spends what it can reasonably afford (effective 2020). Relying on data and actuarial best practices, Comptroller Lembo developed a pension funding reform plan to help make pension payments more predictable and manageable over time.
Comptroller Lembo has been hailed by advocacy groups and the media as a "champion of transparency" for his efforts to promote public access to vital state financial information. His open government initiatives include "Open Connecticut" - an online hub of state financial data that simplifies access to real-time state financial information. Lembo also successfully advocated for greater openness surrounding hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development initiatives that resulted in the Governor's Executive Order No. 38 establishing a searchable electronic database for state economic assistance and tax credits to businesses.
As a member of the state bond commission, Comptroller Lembo advocates for an economic development strategy that emphasizes infrastructure investment - devoting state resources to roads, bridges, ports, public transportation, high-speed broadband, education and workforce training - because those priorities benefit all businesses, and particularly middle class job growth, in Connecticut.
Comptroller Lembo continues to lead the development of a voluntary retirement savings program that will serve up to 600,000 Connecticut workers in the private sector who currently have no workplace retirement savings option. Lembo has said that such programs are imperative to both individual families and the entire state economy in order to ensure that all workers have the means to support their families throughout retirement, rather than be forced to rely on government services.
Even as state comptroller, Lembo continues his advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and adoptive and foster families. In building their own family, Comptroller Lembo and his spouse experienced a challenging path to adoption. On adoption finalization day for their two oldest sons, what should have been a simple joyful proceeding ended with a denial after a New York judge deemed their family unsuitable due to their marital status and sexual orientation. Ultimately, Lembo and Frey appealed the matter all the way to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, establishing a precedent-setting case, "In the matter of Byron K." (1994).
Comptroller Lembo continues to advocate on behalf of families who have faced similar obstacles, as well as for parents and individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder because of their own experiences as parents. In 2004, Lembo was commissioned a "Kentucky Colonel," the highest honor awarded by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in recognition of his advocacy on behalf of children in foster care. In addition to working in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to raise awareness about foster and adoption, Lembo and Frey recently became licensed foster parents once again.
"You can’t just say, 'I've got mine," and move on," Lembo said. "We have a responsibility to help one another."
Comptroller Lembo holds a Master of Public Administration from California State University and is a member of the Pi Alpha Honor Society. He has been recognized at the local and national levels by organizations including AARP, GLAD and Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information for his work in public policy, health care, retirement security and open government. He was named a Toll Fellow of the Council of State Governments and serves as a panelist and moderator throughout the state and country as an expert in health care and retirement administration.
Office of the State Comptroller
KEVIN LEMBO, State Comptroller
Martha Carlson, Deputy Comptroller
Established - 1786
Statutory authority - State Constitution
Central office - 165 Capitol Avenue,
Hartford, CT 06106-1775
Average number of full-time employees - 256
Recurring operating expenses - $24,190,877
To provide accounting and financial services, to administer employee and retiree benefits, to develop accounting policy and exercise accounting oversight, and to prepare financial reports for state, federal and municipal governments and the public.
The responsibilities of the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) were first charged in the State Constitution in 1786, and have been expanded over the years in the Connecticut General Statutes. According to Article Fourth, Section 24 of the State Constitution, the State Comptroller "shall adjust and settle all public accounts and demands, except grants and orders of the general assembly. He shall prescribe the mode of keeping and rendering all public accounts."
In addition, state law charges the office to adjust and/or settle all demands against the state not first adjusted and settled by the General Assembly; to prepare all accounting statements relating to the financial condition of the state; to provide for the budgetary and financial reporting needs of the executive branch through the Core-CT computerized system; to pay all wages and salaries of state employees; and to administer miscellaneous appropriations including the procurement of medical, dental and pharmacy benefits.
The bulk of the Comptroller's statutory requirements are detailed in CGS Secs. 3-111 through 3-123.
The office is organized by seven divisions:
Accounts Payable Division
The Accounts Payable Division manages the centralized accounts payable function for the state, maintains a database of more than 126,000 records on state vendor profiles, initiates and monitors the process for paying and settling the state's obligations, examines state encumbrances and expenditures for compliance, conducts pre-audits of procurement requests for $1 million or more, and addresses a variety of necessary federal and state requirements and Freedom of Information requests.
The division processes special payments such as tax-exempt bond funds, debt service, state legal settlements, land condemnations, human resource benefits, federal pass-through and state grants. These payments are processed through various methods such as checks, Automated Clearing House (ACH, also known as electronic funds transfer or EFT), wire transfers, and inter-agency transfers.
The division enforces the statutory, regulatory and accounting provisions mandated by state and federal law and by the comptroller's policies; facilitates the execution of state grant programs for payment to municipalities and/or non-profit organizations; produces reports of payments to municipalities and provides assistance to municipalities' independent auditors in the reconciliation of such payments; maintains financial records, including garnishments/offsets through the vendor file database within the state's Core-CT administrative and financial system; assists agencies in processing transactions and troubleshooting problems with such transactions in Core-CT; develops manuals and provides training to other state agencies' business office staff; processes and distributes forms for certain vendors, grantees and the Internal Revenue Service.
Budget and Financial Analysis Division
The Budget and Financial Analysis Division performs the state's accounting and financial reporting functions and develops and executes the agency budget. The division is responsible for posting, analyzing and reporting state expenditures and receipts by fund and account category inclusive of federal and other funding sources.
The division computes and reports direct and indirect costs associated with major state programs. This cost data is recorded and maintained in accordance with federal law and is used to secure reimbursements from federal and other funding sources. At the comptroller's direction, the division prepares a monthly analysis of the state's budget condition that contains the financial statements for the latest month and projections for the budget position to year's end.
The division publishes two of the comptroller's annual financial reports -- a budgetary base (modified cash basis of accounting) report that details and analyzes state expenditures, receipts, and capital budget activities for the fiscal year; and a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that analyzes the state's overall fiscal position and provides audited financial statements for state and state-supported fiscal activities.
Healthcare Policy & Benefit Services Division
The Healthcare Policy & Benefit Services Division administers benefits programs for all state employees, retirees, and their families. The largest programs are the medical, pharmacy, and dental benefit programs covering over 200,000 lives. The division is responsible for the contract procurement, administration, and evaluation of these programs.
The division provides administrative support to the Healthcare Cost Containment Committee, as well as substantive updates on the patient-centered medical home initiative, eligibility for and enrollment in the state employee and retiree health plan, and rates and utilization issues.
In 2010, the division implemented a new prescription purchasing initiative that could save municipal and state taxpayers millions of dollars. The Connecticut Prescription Partnership is a strictly voluntary partnership that permits towns and cities to join the state's self-insured pharmacy benefit program and achieve significant savings by purchasing drugs through the state.
The division is working on new and expanded opportunities for municipalities and non-profits to procure health care in coordination with the state, potentially saving significant dollars and resources.
The division is also responsible for administrating the State of Connecticut Defined Contribution Plans, including oversight of investments which are currently in excess of $3.2 billion.
The division also coordinates group life insurance, unemployment insurance and supplemental benefits for state employees.
Information Technology Division
The Information Technology Division is an inter-agency team that supports and helps maintain Core-CT, the statewide financial, human resource, and payroll system. Core-CT performs the state's accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, purchasing, billing, project management, human resource, time and attendance, payroll, and benefits administration functions and is used by well over 10,000 state employees. In total there are approximately 50 employees of the Office of the State Comptroller who work full time on supporting the system's operation.
The division is responsible for the maintenance and upgrade of Core-CT, and provides analysis for the comptroller regarding strategic information technology issues impacting the state.
The division's Technology Support Unit develops and maintains the
comptroller's technical infrastructure, including local area network
(LAN) planning, personal computer (PC) installation and troubleshooting,
training in desktop software applications, help desk support for all PC
users, and development of custom PC/LAN applications and is responsible
for web development and maintenance for the comptroller's Intranet and
Internet web sites.