State job agency under fire taking steps to ensure accountabilit - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Troubled state job agency taking steps to ensure accountability

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Madison (WQOW) - Trust is earned.  A state agency designed to focus solely on job creation is working hard on something else at the same time: regaining the public's trust.

The governor's economic development agency has been in turmoil for some time.  A state audit showed the WEDC failed to track millions of dollars in loans and its job creation efforts.  The agency spokesman resigned after reporters told the WEDC that he owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid income taxes. 

The agency has been under fire, but is taking steps to ensure accountability.

The board of directors received an action plan last month based on recommendations from audits that pinpointed numerous problems.  That included areas where the agency was not following the law.  The CEO says the most notable changes being made are to staffing.  The board has added a new chief financial officer and other banking experts... and developed a new computer system to track data.

"We have more board involvement and the things that we're doing with our staffing and our compliance program including moving internal audit & compliance into our legal dept here," said WEDC CEO Reed Hall.

The Wisconsin Senate also approved a bill requiring term limits for board members and annual reviews by state auditors.  The WEDC was created two years ago during a special session on jobs in Madison.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin's jobs creation agency has hired a new accounting firm after questions about potential conflicts of interest with its previous firm was raised by a legislative audit.

The chief financial officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. said Wednesday that Sikich LLP had been hired to replace the previous firm Schenck SC.

Stephanie Walker says the potential conflicts with Schenck were a factor in hiring Sikich, which is based in Naperville, Ill. Schenck did compete for the latest audit, but the board awarded the contract to Sikich.

Walker and other WEDC officials held a briefing to give an update on steps being taken to address numerous problems with the agency identified by Schenck, the Legislative Audit Bureau and the state Legislature.

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