Audit: NC needs better oversight of millions in grant money - WNCT

Audit: NC needs better oversight of millions in grant money

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

A new audit reveals that North Carolina's Commerce Department gave out millions to companies who promised new jobs but didn't quite follow up.

In the report released Monday, State Auditor Beth Wood highlights grants issued under the department's Job Development Investment Grant program in 2010.

Since the program's inception in 2003, it has awarded 145 grants, totaling more than $600 million.

The award recipients for the audited period were expected to create about 5,800 new jobs and save around 6,800 others statewide. Under the Perdue administration, North Carolina paid $20 million in grants and took those companies at their word that they were meeting their commitments.

The audit points out that the Commerce Department didn't do its own audits or site visits to independently verify.

Some local companies received part of that grant money, including Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals and Siemens Energy. Both saved their number of jobs, but failed to create all the new ones and reported no money in investments.

"The audit is strong. It does show room for improvement, there's no question about that," Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said Monday. "We have followed up on those recommendations and have already made some changes in place."

Decker pointed out that companies now have to formally say that they are keeping their commitments, which becomes legally binding.

The Commerce Department also responded to the auditor's findings by saying it will examine what other states are doing to oversee their grants.

It expects to release its findings and give an update on any changes in mid-November.

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Sean Maroney

Sean returns home to North Carolina after spending seven years reporting around the world and across the United States. More>>

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