PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Democratic state lawmakers have asked Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard for information on the state's $5 million contract with a national recruiting firm that was hired to find new workers for hard-to-fill jobs in the state.
Rep. Susan Wismer, of Britton, and Sen. Billie Sutton, of Burke, said they have questions about the program because ManpowerGroup Inc. was supposed to help fill 1,000 jobs in three years, but only 83 jobs have been filled a year after the contract was signed. The two lawmakers, members of the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee, note the state recently made changes in the project, which was started to fill needs in engineering, financial services, information technology and manufacturing.
"I hope Gov. Daugaard's administration will help us answer our questions about the program so we can protect taxpayers and fill open jobs across South Dakota," Sutton said in a written statement.
The Democrats want information about the program's expense, the contract with ManpowerGroup, the number and type of jobs filled, and the wages paid for those jobs.
Tony Venhuizen, the governor's communications director, said the Governor's Office of Economic Development has always been open about the project and will provide the information sought by Democratic lawmakers. However, it might take time to collect all the information the lawmakers are seeking, he said.
The contract with ManpowerGroup provided the company with a monthly payment of $49,000 and additional payment for every job filled. Officials recently said the program has been modified to let businesses use other recruiters and be reimbursed for part of the expense.
Venhuizen said the GOED decided it was time to make some changes after talking to South Dakota businesses a little more than a year after the recruitment effort started.
"They're hoping this change will increase the success of the program," Venhuizen said.