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Audits & answers: Fixing troubled departments


A state audit of the Department of Resources and Economic Development was released this month, and it found many problems, including that the Division of Economic Development “does not have a system to evaluate the impact of its activities” and “did not have a coordinated plan to support its mission” during 2012-2013, the years of the audit. Gov. Maggie Hassan’s response was good in the abstract, but was entirely silent on how to fix the department.

On Monday Hassan issued an executive order creating a new policy for how departments must respond to state audits. She ordered all departments to respond with a remedial action plan within 30 days of the release of an audit from the Legislative Budget Assistant’s office (LBA), which conducts both performance and financial audits of state agencies. Audited departments must publicly release semiannual progress reports.

As a general policy, this is an improvement. The typical audit is shelved, and the issues raised quickly forgotten. Hassan’s order, if followed, would ensure that the serious problems often uncovered by state agency audits do not go unaddressed.

As for the DRED audit, Hassan offered no plan for fixing the very real problems that have resulted in taxpayer dollars being squandered on “economic development” efforts that might be completely ineffective. We will have more to say about that audit and the department’s mission, but for now we find it disappointing that Gov. Hassan — on the eve of her economic development mission to Turkey — has nothing to say about the dreadful performance of DRED.

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