Sometimes, public-private partnerships go too far in one direction. In this case, a government agency was criticized for placing too much of its authority in the hands of a partner nonprofit that was much less accountable and transparent with how it spent the public’s money. South Carolina state auditors called out that state’s commerce department for setting up a nonprofit organization with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League to appropriate $5 million to offset the destruction of wetlands at a site that is now a Boeing factory near Charleston. The Savannah Morning News reports that the auditors ruled that Commerce failed to provide adequate oversight for the nonprofit’s complex dealings. Saying that they “could not determine the benefit of creating a nonprofit entity to accomplish this particular purpose,” they advised the agency not to take similar action in the future. The audit report said that the nonprofit spent $5.3 million when “only $743,000 was needed to buy or preserve property to meet federal requirements to offset the loss of wetlands caused by building the plant.” The funding was part of a $160 million incentive package the state offered a precursor to Boeing to attract it in 2004. It is now a plant for its 787 Dreamliners, employing about 6,000 workers.
S.C. watchdog questions agency, nonprofit spending on wetlands
Source: Susanne M. Schafer, Savannah Morning News, April 29, 2015
State auditors faulted the South Carolina Commerce Department on Wednesday for setting up a nonprofit organization with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League to disperse $5 million to offset the destruction of wetlands at what is now Boeing’s manufacturing site near Charleston. The Legislative Audit Council said Commerce didn’t provide enough oversight for the nonprofit’s complex dealings and advised the agency not to take similar action in the future.