EXCLUSIVE: Auditors Say Taxpayers Should Care About DECD Report; “There’s a Lot of Money Involved”April 26, 2018
Reclaim Connecticut spoke exclusively with state auditors John Geragosian and Rob Kane on Wednesday.
Connecticut’s state auditors are back in the news this week, after their concerning report that the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has been overstating the jobs created by state-sponsored programs and understating the amount of tax money spent.
Reclaim Connecticut spoke exclusively with the state auditors on Wednesday, to get a better sense from them of why taxpayers should care about this report.
Current state auditors John Geragosian and Rob Kane are both former state legislators, Geragosian a Democrat and Kane a Republican. Connecticut has a unique, bipartisan setup for its state audit system, giving both major parties representation.
“We are basically embedded in every executive branch agency, as well as some quasi-public agencies,” Kane told Reclaim Connecticut on Wednesday. “We’re independent. We give a view inside the government agencies for the legislature.”
This latest audit of DECD was authority specifically given the auditors by the legislature, Geragosian said.
“We were given this broad charge in Public Act 17-219, which the comptroller [Kevin Lembo, a Democrat] was one of the primary supporters of,” the Democratic auditor said. “This particular report is just very limited, because we wanted to bring it to the attention of the legislature.”
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing concerning in the report. On the contrary, both Geragosian and Kane said.
“The most important thing is they gotta get their information correct,” Geragosian said, referencing a number of misreporting incidents at DECD that the auditors identified in their report. “The report has to be accurate. They [also] need to receive the information from other entities to make that happen.”
“Prior to this, there was never a second set of eyes to verify the numbers they were using,” Kane added. “If you’re reporting on yourself, you’ll tend to make it look good.”
“We turned this report around quickly,” Geragosian said, noting that this week’s report is just the first step in the auditors’ look into DECD. “We think it achieved its goal. DECD has acknowledged the mistakes it made.”
But future reports, both Geragosian and Kane said, would look at two items outlined on the first page of the auditors’ April 2018 report:
- “An evaluation of management practices and operations regarding the ease or difficulty for taxpayers to comply with the requirements of the incentive programs”
- “Recommendations for improving the administrative efficiency or effectiveness of the incentive programs”
“We have to survey some of the businesses that received assistance,” Geragosian said. “The third thing is gonna be a performance audit of one or more of these programs.”
With this report and others, Kane said, taxpayers will be able to: “question the data that was used, or methodology, or formulas, human errors, timeliness, how they count job counts when companies get money from multiple posts, multiple sources.”
“There’s a lot of money involved,” Kane concluded.
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