Audit: ESD fails to meet more than half of reporting requirements

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - New York's fiscal watchdog says the state's chief economic development agency falls short in reporting results of economic development programs.

According to an audit released Wednesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Empire State Development failed to meet more than half of the reporting requirements for tax credit and job creation programs, diminishing transparency and accountability.

"Too often Empire State Development Corporation is either late or not reporting on the results of economic development programs," DiNapoli said. "We need better reporting to ensure transparency in economic development spending and to promote an informed analysis on the return of the investments state taxpayers make in these programs."  

Under state laws and regulations, ESD is mandated to report on the outcomes of many of the programs it supervises.

Auditors found ESD failed to produce many of the statutorily-required performance and outcome reports that were due between April 2012 and September 2016. Auditors found 47% of general outcome reports were not finished. 17 programs were not evaluated and 61% of program specific reports were not completed.

According to the State Comptroller's Office, in most cases, auditors were not provided an explanation for why required reports were not completed.

ESD issued the following in response to the audit:

ESD administered 66 programs intended to spur economic activity, stimulate job creation and encourage business investment in the state. ESD spent almost $2 billion on economic development grants during the four fiscal years ended March 31, 2016. Besides economic development grants, ESD administers the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, tax credits and other incentives to private companies, nonprofit organizations and other entities throughout New York.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2015, ESD reported there were 217 active projects subject to employment stipulations and funded with $234.8 million from various state investment sources. ESD reported that the 217 active projects have created 18,466 net new jobs in New York since first receiving financial assistance. 

You can read the entire report here.
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