Project Tracking Systems and Economic Assistance Program Evaluations

Issued Date
October 18, 2021
Empire State Development


To determine if Empire State Development (ESD) maintains adequate information systems for the collection of relevant data to effectively manage and report on the economic assistance programs it administers and ensure programs meet desired outcomes. Our audit covered the period from January 1, 2016 through April 16, 2021.

About the Program

ESD is the chief agency responsible for the coordination of the State’s economic development programs. Its mission is to promote a vigorous and growing State economy; encourage business investment and job creation; and support diverse, prosperous local economies across New York State through the efficient use of loans, grants, tax credits, real estate development, marketing, and other forms of assistance. ESD offers 57 programs with over 5,000 associated projects. Over the years, ESD has used a mix of desktop applications and server-based platforms to track the growing complexity of its various economic development programs. In 2016, ESD’s Board of Directors voted to replace its project tracking system with Microsoft Dynamics (Dynamics) to reduce duplicative data entry, facilitate greater sharing of information, simplify project reporting, and create a central data warehouse. Replacement of ESD’s old tracking system and migration of ESD’s loan and grant projects to Dynamics was completed in early 2019. ESD budgeted $2.9 million for the implementation and support of Dynamics, and as of November 2020 had spent just under $2 million. ESD is statutorily required to report on its economic assistance programs as well as perform periodic program evaluations to assess the effectiveness of certain programs. Notwithstanding these mandated reporting and evaluation requirements, good business practices suggest that all ESD programs be evaluated periodically to ensure they are meeting their goals and fulfilling ESD’s mission.

Key Findings

  • With few exceptions, such as the film tax credit programs, ESD does not evaluate its economic assistance programs to ensure they are meeting their intended goals and furthering ESD’s mission.
  • Since implementing Dynamics, ESD has onboarded several programs and continues to assess its programs for future migration. ESD generally collects and maintains relevant information to effectively manage, track, and report on its economic assistance projects; however, after implementing its new project system, ESD continues to use multiple systems to capture such data.

Key Recommendations

  • Conduct and document periodic program evaluations of economic assistance programs to assess performance and ensure programs are meeting desired outcomes.
  • Identify additional economic assistance programs that would benefit from migration to Dynamics.

Brian Reilly

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236