The General Assembly’s Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) met this week, and reviewed the second of two scathing audits of the controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) program.
Created under Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, the NRI and its successor programs were oft-criticized for mismanagement and the possible abuse of taxpayer funds. The LAC has finished reviewing the second audit of the NRI, a process that confirmed that even after concerns were raised about the program and its implementation, many of the same problems remained after Quinn moved the program to a different state agency. Notably, guidelines and rules were often simply not followed and significant amounts of NRI funding may have been misspent. In addition, the second audit included statements from participants that someone from former Gov. Quinn’s office told them to not file required reports.
The first scathing NRI audit was released in 2014, which found that the $54 million violence prevention program known as NRI had pervasive deficiencies in planning, implementation and management. In fact, auditors questioned 40 percent of the spending they reviewed in the NRI program. It was also revealed that while billed as a violence prevention program, some of the city of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods were not included.
The Legislative Audit Commission is responsible for monitoring action to correct weaknesses disclosed by the audits of state agencies, oversight of the State Audit Program, and review of the stewardship of public funds.