(The Center Square) – Auditors at the State Capitol are telling Wisconsin’s economic development arm to do better.
The Legislative Audit Bureau on Wednesday released its latest report on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Auditors found the WEDC “largely complied” with state laws in administering the $56.5 million in tax credits, and $27.5 million in grants and $2.2 million in loans it oversaw in 2019 and 2020.
But the same audit suggested WEDC was lax in oversight, record keeping, and spending its available money to help businesses across the state.
“[WEDC] should improve how it oversees tax credit contracts and assesses program results,” The auditors wrote. “WEDC’s online data contained inaccuracies and were incomplete, and its total available funding for grants, loans, and administrative costs continued to exceed its total payments.”
Auditors found that WEDC’s total available funding was $67.2 million more than its total payments at the end of the 2020 budget-year.
WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes on Tuesday framed the audit as "positive."
“My opinion about the LAB audit process is always about learning how to do better, and what we can be doing,” Hughes said.
Republican lawmakers on the legislature’s Joint Audit Committee said the audit shows that openness and transparency have improved the WEDC over the years.
“While I still have ongoing concerns at WEDC, particularly with the early closure of job creation awards and believe there is still much work to be done, I look forward to working with the members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on several of the recommendations and considerations identified in this report to continue this trend of improved accountability at WEDC,” Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, said in a statement.
“There are opportunities here for WEDC to further tighten their program administration and oversight,” Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, said Wednesday. “I’d like to see more timely action when it comes to tax credit revocations, an embrace of the LAB recommendations to assess award effectiveness and program results.”