June 10, 2009
|Representative Michael Beard||Senator Don Betzold|
|Representative Rick Hansen||Senator Joe Gimse|
|Representative Bill Hilty||Senator Ann H. Rest|
|Representative Mary Liz Holberg||Senator Claire Robling|
|Representative Ron Shimanski|
|Representative Steve Simon||Senator David Hann|
|Senator James Metzen|
Other Legislators Present:
|Senator Leo Foley|
|Senator Warren Limmer|
|Senator Mee Moua|
Senator Ann Rest, Chair, called the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) meeting to order at 10:02 a.m. Senator Rest said that there were three items on the agenda for the meeting: 1) release the evaluation, E-Verify; 2) discussion of the OLA’s follow-up inquiry of the Metro Gang Strike Force Seized Vehicles; and 3) a recommendation by the OLA to postpone the evaluation of medical nonemergency transportation services.
Senator Rest introduced Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles said that the E-Verify system is a federal program that verifies employees’ eligibility for employment. Mr. Nobles said that Governor Pawlenty issued an Executive Order in January 2008 that required the use of E-Verify for newly hired employees by the Executive Branch. Mr. Nobles introduced Deb Junod, Evaluation Manager for E-Verify, to give more details. Ms. Junod explained that the E-Verify system is an internet-based system run by the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The system verifies that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. Ms. Junod said that the Governor’s executive order covers three employer groups overseen by three state agencies: 1) the Executive Branch agencies overseen by Minnesota Management and Budget; 2) certain state vendors overseen by the Department of Administration Procurement Division; and 3) recipients of business subsidies overseen by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. She said that the key findings of the evaluation were: 1) the Governor’s executive order was only implemented in part; 2) the surveyed businesses using the system were generally satisfied; 3) patchwork of state and federal mandates are a concern; and 4) the accuracy of the system has improved, but other issues, such as vulnerability to identity fraud, require federal attention. Ms. Junod said OLA recommends that the Governor consider conforming the terms of his executive order to those of a federal mandate for federal contractors. OLA also recommends that state agencies help make federal training and other resources available to Minnesota businesses. Ms. Junod said that USCIS established rules designed to prevent discrimination by employers.
Senator Rest welcomed Kent Allin, Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Administration; Judy Plante, Assistant Commissioner, State HR and Benefits, Minnesota Management and Budget; and Bob Isaacson, Director, Communications, Analysis, and Research Division, Department of Employment and Economic Development. Ms. Plante explained that MMB has had to deal with Data Practices and security system issues before it could implement the E-Verify system. Mr. Allin said that Administration has not had the same issues that MMB has. He said that it would definitely be advantageous for the state to only have to deal with one set of rules instead of two; therefore, conforming the terms of the Governor’s executive order to those of the federal mandate would be good. Mr. Isaacson said that the evaluation’s recommendation for DEED and Administration to provide training, outreach, and other resources to Minnesota employers is an attainable goal.
The meeting turned to the follow up to the Metro Gang Strike Force Seized Vehicles. Mr. Nobles said that David Poliseno, Financial Audit Manager of the original Metro Gang Strike Force review was joining him at the table. Mr. Nobles explained that the 14 vehicles originally unaccounted for had been located by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. However, the OLA decided to follow up on where some of the vehicles had gone. The OLA found that a large number of the cars were sold to an organization named Cars With Heart, which is a private, for-profit used car business. Cars With Heart is actually known for facilitating contributions to charitable nonprofit organizations based on car donations. Mr. Nobles said that the handling of the 14 vehicles was another instance of how the Metro Gang Strike Force did not act in a way that was appropriate. He mentioned that the OLA has turned over its workpapers to the Department of Public Safety for further inquiry and has also been working with members of the FBI. Another problem with the Strike Force is that it was not focusing on collecting evidence for prosecution. OLA feels that if officers focus on collecting evidence with prosecution in mind, they will be more disciplined in their actions.
The meeting moved to the discussion of postponing the OLA evaluation of medical nonemergency transportation services. Senator Rest acknowledged that a quorum was present for the record. Mr. Nobles explained that because of changes enacted by the 2009 Legislature, the OLA recommends postponing work on this evaluation and beginning an evaluation of public libraries, with a report due in early 2010. Once completed, staff would return to the medical nonemergency transportation evaluation, with a report due in mid-2010. Representative Hansen moved for OLA to postpone the medical nonemergency transportation evaluation and to work on the public libraries evaluation. The motion prevailed.
With no further discussion or comments, the meeting was adjourned at 12:02 p.m.
Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair
Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary