TRENTON – The non-profit agency that issued a nationwide survey of how effectively states monitor subsidized programs said recipients of public money must be required to file reports, and state agencies must use independent means to verify those reports.
Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C.-based agency that says it is committed to making economic development programs accountable, issued a report today covering all 50 states in how effectively they oversee programs that rely on public subsidies.
In general, New Jersey received mixed grades, with a program such as the Business Employment Incentive Program – whose 2010 annual cost was $106 million, according to the study – receiving high marks.
But all states could do better, study authors said today.
“In this respect, we agree with Ronald Reagan: ‘Trust, but verify,’’’ said Good Jobs First research director Philip Mattera.
The study covered 238 programs around the country, and in 90 percent of the cases there is some level of requirement for a program to report on goals such as job creation, but in a third of the cases, the government agency does not verify the data, according to Mattera and Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.
Agencies should be required to cross-check reported data, for instance, by using unemployment insurance records, Mattera said.
Even in cases where states have methods to verify compliance, they sometimes have weak or inconsistent enforcement practices with too many exceptions, according to the study.
“States know very well how to apply rigorous enforcement techniques, but in many cases fail to do so,’’ Mattera said.
Other N.J. programs covered in the study include the Urban Enterprise Zone and the Business Retention and Relocation Grant.