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Audits of South Dakota Economic Office Released. Why? Richard Benda, Northern Beef.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard
South Dakota Government

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s office sent out a media announcement with attachments of two audits of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The audits were ordered after an investigation of the office by the Attorney General’s Office showed a double billing of some travel expenses by former director Richard Benda. At the same time a federal investigation was begun regarding the handling of both state funds and the application of federal programs dealing with the Northern Beef Plant in Aberdeen.

“Gov. Dennis Daugaard today released the results of two separate, independent reviews into the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

“Since this matter came to my attention, my priority has been to protect public funds in a manner that is forthright and transparent,” the Governor said. “State government should welcome review from outside experts, and these reports identify areas where the state can improve its processes.”

In his cover letter to Gov. Daugaard, GOED Commissioner Pat Costello wrote, “I am pleased that these reports do not indicate wrongdoing beyond the findings of the Attorney General’s investigation report.”

Last year, Gov. Daugaard asked the Attorney General to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by a former state economic development official. The Attorney General’s investigation report was released last fall. The Governor also ordered three reviews of the economic development office by independent auditors:

·         A review of agreed-upon procedures of the Future Fund and two other economic development programs by the Stalken and Peterson accounting firm,

·         An internal controls examination of GOED by Eide Bailly LLP, and

·         An audit of GOED by the Department of Legislative Audit, the state’s independent auditor that reports to the state Legislature.

The first two reviews are complete and the results of these reviews, along with responses from GOED and other state offices, are available at–Public-Records.aspx. The audit by the Department of Legislative Audit is still in progress and is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. The Governor will release those results when they are available.”

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