The first independent audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund shows that the governor’s job-creating fund awarded $222 million — almost half the money granted — to entities that never submitted applications or specific promises to create jobs.
The 98-page report by the state auditor, released to lawmakers Thursday, paints a picture of a $500 million fund that, at least in its early years, gave away taxpayer money without a set evaluation process or a consistent criteria.
Early grants were awarded to companies or universities without their submitting formal applications, and some large projects were never required to create a single job — although that is the legislative mandate by which the fund was started.
Numerous contracts showed inconsistent requirements, weak compliance monitoring and led the auditor to state that it cannot verify many of the jobs or investments that were credited to the program.
This remind you of anything locally?
In half of the contracts reviewed — 40 of 81 projects — auditors couldn’t verify how many jobs had been created. In some cases, recipients provided only a summary of new jobs without being asked to show pay records.
The enterprise fund accepted the summaries, despite its own policies that require a detailed accounting, including job titles, hire dates and compensation.
Christy Hoppe’s blockbuster story about the first independent audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund contains quite a few shocking revelations, the biggest of which is how lax Gov. Rick Perry was in his financial oversight. The fund handed out $222 million to entities that hadn’t even bothered to submit applications. I wonder how that worked, exactly. If you have good contacts in the governor’s office, do you just call up and say, “Hey, could you funnel a few million my way?” And suddenly, poof, it’s yours.
For a governor who is making no secret of his presidential ambitions, his mismanagement of this fund is certain to play front and center in presidential debates as other candidates — Republican and Democrat — question whether he’s got the stuff to run our nation....
Let’s read between the lines here: Left to their own devices, the people directly under Perry’s supervision never thought to question the way the Enterprise Fund money was being dispensed, even as they doled out nearly half of the total amount of the $500 million fund to people who apparently hadn’t even submitted a formal application for it. Nor were those requests accompanied even with a promise to create jobs in exchange for receiving the money.
The university was able to receive extra funding, according to the report, by manipulating payroll expenditures and using state funds to pay employees whose positions were not eligible for state funding. ..."Auditors did not identify any attempt by the university to conceal its activities or transactions," the report said. "However, university senior managers with fiscal responsibility should have known, or did know, that the university consistently exceeded its legislative appropriations."
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