WEDC committee OKs plan to notify authorities on problematic award applications

WEDC’s Audit Committee has approved a new internal policy that would let authorities know of any lies in program award applications.

Under the policy, WEDC staff would try to resolve any discrepancies between an application and WEDC’s background checks, as well as investigate any potential lies they identify after the agency gives out an award.

But if WEDC’s staff can’t reconcile those discrepancies, the agency’s CEO could refer the issue to the authorities.

“If they feel that it was intentional and it could result in a loss to the state, then we’ll document that, and we’ll forward it to the appropriate authorities based on the CEO’s approval,” WEDC CEO Mark Hogan said at the meeting Monday.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, voted against the internal policy because he said he needed more time to explore the issue. The full board will review the policy next week.

The committee also heard from the Legislative Audit Bureau and reviewed WEDC’s efforts to meet the 25 recommendations LAB made to the agency in its most recent audit, including a recommendation WEDC follow state law and verify the outcomes of its awards.

Dean Swenson, the LAB’s performance evaluation director, said the bureau “saw no evidence” during its audit that WEDC verified job creation outcomes companies reported.

WEDC, however, wrote in its updated response to the audit that the agency started that process in May. WEDC’s full board will review that response before it heads to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The agency is also hiring an outside auditor to help with the verification process next year.

See a draft of WEDC’s updated response to the audit