Gov. Ricketts, Economic Development Unveil New Agency Management Practices
Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970
Kate Ellingson, Economic Development, 402-471-3749
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Courtney Dentlinger unveiled new management practices for the state’s top marketing and business recruitment agency. At a news conference, state officials said these new management practices would improve the agency’s operations and establish a partnership with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to provide accounting and human resources services.
“Economic Development is an important state agency because its central focus is growing Nebraska through business recruitment and job creation,” said Governor Ricketts. “Over the course of the first several months of serving the department, Courtney has worked with her team to identify areas where we can strengthen the operations of the department. Courtney’s proactive leadership in taking these steps demonstrates why she’s the right leader for this agency. Her team is doing tremendous work.”
At the news conference, the Governor and DED Director highlighted three major initiatives the agency was launching to run the department more like a business:
- Establish a Finance & Operations Division & Hire a CFO – DED will create a new division within the agency to house their financial, budgeting, accounting, and operations functions. While most of the positions within that division already exist, they will be formalizing its structure, and giving the division appropriate recognition and authority. A Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a new role for the department, will lead this division. This new position will help to thoughtfully enhance the agency’s policies, protocols, and internal controls.
- Bolster Legal Team’s Expertise – DED will be bolstering their legal team by adding an additional position. This will help not only to allow the department’s attorneys to have sufficient time to inform agency initiatives, but it will also help to clear a log jam of contracts with important partners – improving their effectiveness and customer service.
- Create Internal DED Auditor – DED is creating an internal auditor role. The job of this person will be to ensure that the agency is continually in compliance with any policies and regulations, and who will ensure that the agency is more responsive and proactive with their various state and federal audit obligations. The agency is frequently audited, and has faced challenges in providing timely responses to their partners in auditing functions. The creation of this role will address that issue head on.
“The Economic Development team is doing great work,” said DED Director Dentlinger. “Each year, the staff helps locate millions of dollars in private investment while investing several million dollars into community infrastructure and housing projects. This is an enormous responsibility. As we analyzed our internal processes and controls, it was evident that we needed to strengthen our fiscal operations to meet the challenges of such a large, diverse budget. These initiatives will help do just that.”
In addition to the initiatives outlined above, DED and DAS announced a partnership, which will transfer accounting and human resource functions previously performed within DED to DAS. DED will transfer personnel, who will be housed, managed, and trained by DAS to perform these duties.
During the last several months, Economic Development has undergone multiple state and federal audits, including audits from the State Auditor of Public Accounts and the Legislative Performance Audit Committee. The audits have helped DED identify areas where it could strengthen staff and process management.
“The work of the Legislative Audit Office and the staff of the Auditor of Public Accounts has been very helpful in informing these departmental improvements,” Dentlinger said. “Their efforts help insure that agencies are closely following the intent of the Legislature in program management and providing financial accountability to our taxpayers.”
DED’s 65-member team manages programs for business recruitment, innovation, job training, community infrastructure, and housing. The agency is a cornerstone for Governor Ricketts who has made growing the state’s economy a top priority for his administration.