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Waiver process deficient during COVID-19 shutdowns, state auditor general says

September 14, 2021 News Extra

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The state's process granting of denying waivers to businesses seeking reprieve from last year's COVID-19 shutdowns was deficient and plagued with “questionable decisions,” a lack of accountability and transparency and a dearth of guidance provided to the businesses, the state's chief auditor wrote in a report released Tuesday.

Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor, in a report dated Sept. 1, but released Tuesday, criticized Pennsylvania's business-waiver program during the state's shutdown of non-life-sustaining businesses, saying it provided inconsistent decisions and caused confusion among both businesses and state employees processing the waiver requests.

“While the pandemic certainly presented some unique challenges, the process was hastily assembled on the fly, unevenly administered and should be reformed before anything like it is ever used again,” DeFoor stated in a Tuesday press release.

In compiling the report, state auditors reviewed 150 waiver requests, finding that 103 of the final responses “appeared reasonable,” but noted 45 businesses received questionable responses and two never received a response at all. Moreover, DeFoor states in the report, notification letters sent to businesses “contained unclear language” about the state's decision.

Read more in Wednesday's Butler Eagle.

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