State auditor finds lack of Texas Enterprise Fund oversight

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A state audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund concluded that the Office of the Governor needs to monitor and control the Texas Enterprise Fund administration in order to substantiate the program’s claims of job creation.

The extensive audit was released Tuesday near the end of Gov. Rick Perry’s term. Perry leaves office in January.

The audit also found that some companies that received award money from the program never submitted an application to the Texas Enterprise Fund. Since the program started in 2004, about $172 million went to companies that did not apply.

The Texas Enterprise Fund was established by the Texas Legislature in 2003 with the purpose of attracting new business to Texas. The audit, which was the first comprehensive audit on the program since it was adopted, revealed inconsistencies in the awarding process to businesses as well as the claims that the program created jobs and fostered competition with other states.

According to the audit, poor monitoring by Perry’s office made it difficult for state auditors to corroborate the office’s claim that the Texas Enterprise Fund created more than 48,000 jobs.

The audit called for better record-keeping and more specific definitions — one of the state auditors’ recommendations was to define “key terms” in the award agreements. Other recommendations were just as basic: The audit recommended the Office of the Governor ensure all applications are complete and accurate, as well as check to make sure that applicants are eligible for awards from the Texas Enterprise Fund.