Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walker's WEDC Opens State To Business Criticism

Bad enough that Wisconsin will not meet Scott Walker's signature 250,000-New-Jobs campaign pledge, but a national report now says the privatized public agency he set up to create jobs was doomed from the start, The Capital Times reports:

A new national report is harshly critical of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., using WEDC as an example of the inherent risks with so-called “public-private partnerships” being used in a growing number of states.
WEDC says it replaced a state agency - - the Department of Commerce - - that wasn't working well, but where is that documentation? Did Commerce lose track of millions of dollars of loans, pass out money without authorization, or standards? 

Did Commerce award funding to businesses for projects that had already been completed, or route funding to corporations whose executives were large Walker campaign donors?

Walker wanted to prove that the private sector knows best, but a punishing state audit
said otherwise. In a May posting, I quoted and described some of the audit's key findings:
From page 4 of the audit:

Program Administration

WEDC did not have sufficient policies to administer its grant, loan, and tax credit programs effectively, including some statutorily required policies. It had no policies for determining how to handle delinquent loan amounts. In other instances, WEDC did not consistently follow statutes or its existing policies when making awards.

We reviewed files for 64 awards that WEDC made in FY 2011-12 and found that WEDC made some awards to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for amounts that exceeded limits specified in its policies.

WEDC lacked invoices or other contractually required documentation showing that authorized costs were incurred for 7 of 29 grant and loan awards that we reviewed. 
In addition, four contracts executed through the Jobs Tax Credit program allocated four businesses a total of $906,000 in tax credits for job creation and employee training that had occurred before the contracts were executed.

While gifts and perks were rung up willy-nilly on bank cards or handed out on whims. 
From iTunes cards to Badger football season tickets to Wisconsin Memorial Union chairs worth nearly $300 each. 
And there have been continuing problems with high-profile loans that have produced zero promised jobs. 

How can Walker take this record to a national audience and claim to be a problem-solving executive?

[The study of WEDC and Walker donors cited above was produced by One Wisconsin Now. I sit on the organization's non-profit board and played no role in the report's research or publication.]


Alois said...

...and no accounting will be demanded.

Makes you wonder what's happenrd to reason in this state. No matter how depraved, corrupt, or incompetent the Walker administration keeps proving itself to be, half of our citizens keep cheering.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

As a customer of the old Department of Commerce in several modes, I will say that the new changes have certainly not improved their performance. In some cases, web site utility was significantly downgraded by the changes. Certainly the new web site designs were much more difficult to use, and have many broken sections.

It's a debacle! Walker must take responsibility, and resign in shame!

Anonymous said...

At least the website works and doesn't require 50 pieces of personal information!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

At least the website works and doesn't require 50 pieces of personal information!

non-sequitur. Different websites with different functions.

And yes, depending on what you are trying to do on the Commerce website, very often personal information of various types is required. It's kind of how websites work.

And as I said, in some cases the state site doesn't work. Read for comprehension. Also, pick a nym.