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First in the series -- State and local government pilot programs.

State and local governments are using money from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) to experiment with new pilot programs that tackle issues arising from the pandemic. Here are examples of pilot programs from Connecticut and Iowa, Milwaukee and Orange counties, and San José and Washington, D.C. as described in the recipients’ SLFRF Recovery Plans submitted to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

In fiscal year 2021-22, The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) administered 30 economic development programs through which it allocated $58.0 million in tax credits, awarded $91.3 million in grants and $4.8 million in loans, and authorized local governments to issue $53.4 million in bonds. A portion of these funds were provided through the CARES Act and were used to support the state’s response to the pandemic. Through their biennial financial audit and program evaluation of WEDC, the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Burau found that, among other things, five grants totaling $50,000...

Department of Workforce Development: Unemployment Reserve Fund (FY 2020-21 and FY 2021-22)

As part of our financial statements audit of the Unemployment Reserve Fund, which accounts for Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance program paid to eligible individuals, we provided an unmodified opinion on the Fund’s financial statements and related notes as of and for the years ended June 30, 2022, and June 30, 2021. We found the assets of the Reserve Fund exceeded liabilities at the close of fiscal year (FY) 2021-22 by almost $1.4 billion. Except for $19.2 million in certain federal allocations, the Fund’s net position, if positive, can be used only to pay unemployment benefits to eligible...

Administration of Certain Supplement Federal Funds: Department of Health Services

From March 2020 through June 2022, the Department of Health Services (DHS) awarded $159.6 million in program grants to 1,431 long-term health care and emergency medical services providers. We question $518,700 that DHS paid to 10 grant applicants that did not submit sufficient documentation to support their grant applications or the grant amounts they requested. We provide recommendations to DHS to improve how it administers its grant programs and its Ventilator Stewardship program. We also recommend DHS improve how its Office of Inspector General ensures program integrity.

State of Wisconsin FY 2021-22 Single Audit

In FY 2021-22, state agencies administered $20.2 billion in federal financial assistance, including $5.9 billion that was expended related to the public health emergency and that was separately identified in the State’s Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards. Our audit focused on 22 federal programs that accounted for 58.9 percent of the federal financial assistance administered. We provided an unmodified opinion on federal compliance for 21 of the programs we reviewed. However, we again qualified our opinion on compliance for certain requirements related to the Emergency Rental Assistance...

Decisions About the Use of Supplemental Federal Funds (Department of Administration)

As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, we have completed a limited-scope review of how the Department of Administration (DOA) used supplemental federal funds provided in response to the public health emergency. DOA paid $2.2 billion to other state agencies and spent $1.5 billion on its own programs. As of June 30, 2022, $1.8 billion in discretionary funds were remaining. In December 2022, DOA indicated it had plans for using most of these funds.

State of Wisconsin FY 2021-22 Financial Statements

We provided unmodified audit opinions on the State of Wisconsin’s FY 2021-22 financial statements. These financial statements are included in the State’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. We reported seven significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting, and we made 24 recommendations to state agencies. We also reviewed certain aspects of the federal funding the State received for the public health emergency, and we included in our report certain other matters of interest related to the State’s activities in FY 2021-22.

University of Wisconsin System FY 2021-22

We provided unmodified audit opinions on University of Wisconsin (UW) System’s FY 2021-22 financial statements, including its aggregate discretely presented component units. We also completed a limited-scope review of how UW institutions administered supplemental federal funds from three sources. We found that UW institutions used $239,200 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for costs that were unallowable by criteria that the federal government established. In addition, we recommend UW System Administration improve its oversight of a new computer application.

We’re All In and Wisconsin Tomorrow Programs

Using supplemental federal funding, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) awarded $220.7 million through its We’re All In program to small businesses, restaurants, and similar entities and $375.2 million through its Wisconsin Tomorrow program to small businesses and lodging establishments. We performed a detailed review of 172 grants and found DOR did not follow written eligibility requirements when it awarded 45 of these grants. We recommend that DOR report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on the results of its ongoing efforts to identify and recover program grants it made in...

Emergency Rental Assistance and Emergency Solutions Grant Programs

The Emergency Rental Assistance program helps individuals affected by the public health emergency to cover the cost of rent and utilities. Through June 2021, DOA received $434.7 million in federal funds through the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act for the program. From March 2021 through September 2021, the program provided $64.0 million in benefits for 15,968 households. We make recommendations for DOA to improve how it administers the Emergency Rental Assistance program, including by improving the program’s application process, modifying the process for...