Monday, July 22, 2013

Indianapolis Star Editorial Supports Changes to Indiana Economic Development Commission to Create More Transparency, Accountability

When former Governor Mitch Daniels formed the quasi-government entity known as the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to replace the Department of Commerce I was not a fan of the move.  These type of entities too often operate with little transparency or accountability.  That inevitably leads to conflicts of interest and other problems, which is indeed what exactly what happened with the IEDC.  Today's Star editorial agrees that there needed to be a change with the IEDC:
It was a welcome, and overdue, move when Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly approved legislation this spring to require the Indiana Economic Development Commission to be more transparent in its operations.

The latest example of why transparency is so critical is the frustrating case of Elevate Ventures, a private nonprofit hired by the state to stimulate business investment. It took an Indianapolis Star investigation, published July 14, to alert taxpayers to troubling conflicts of interest. The news story prompted a federal audit of Elevate Ventures.


The IEDC and the companies it works with have long tried to have it both ways: They use public dollars for economic development, but then claim exemption from scrutiny because, in the name of private enterprise, they need to protect trade secrets from competitors.

The contradiction would be more palatable if the results were proven. But Indiana still has fewer jobs than it had when the recession hit And the potential jobs touted by IEDC and the companies it helps haven’t materialized in the numbers promised. That discrepancy is especially frustrating in a state with an unemployment rate of more than 8 percent.
The editorial then discusses the IEDC's questionable moves regarding Bob Yanigahara,  Mynette Boykin, Monica Liang.  The editorial concludes:
Lack of openness, lack of due diligence, lack of measurable results — it certainly adds up to an agency deserving of the priority attention Pence assigned it shortly after taking office in January.

State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Indianapolis, author of the new law, says he is heartened by the governor’s strong words upon signing the legislation and believes the law should be allowed time to show its effectiveness....

“We don’t want to make companies disclose trade secrets,” he said. “But it’s a balancing act. I’m a strong believer in the public’s right to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent.”
So far the balance has been tipped to the private side. It’s time for the weight to be shifted back toward transparency and the public -- the people who are paying the bills.
Amen.   Thanks for the work of Governor Mike Pence, Sen. Mike Delph and everyone else who have worked to bring some accountability and transparency to the IEDC.

1 comment:

Jon said...

So the IEDC needs transparency, well so does the CIB. Another quasi-governmental entity but spending millions more of our tax dollars.