Nebraska Revised Statute 77-5544
Audit; costs; confidentiality; violation; penalty.
(1) By January 1, 2005, and each January 1 every five years thereafter for so long as there are companies that have qualified for benefits and remain within the entitlement period and there are sufficient companies qualified for benefits so as not to reveal confidential information that allows identification of any company, there shall be an audit to determine compliance with the Invest Nebraska Act. The Tax Commissioner shall contract with a qualified independent accounting firm to conduct the audit. The cost of the audit shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Department of Revenue by the Legislature. Such cost shall include, in addition to the fees and costs of such independent firm, the incremental costs to the department to comply with this section, as determined by the department. If a qualified independent accounting firm cannot be located or engaged to conduct such audit, then such audit shall instead be performed by the department. A qualified independent firm shall be a firm that meets all of the following requirements: (a) The firm must be an accounting firm employing or comprised of at least ten certified public accountants who are licensed under the Public Accountancy Act to practice accounting and auditing in Nebraska; (b) the firm, at the time of the beginning of such audit, and for the period of at least twenty-four months before such audit commences, has not performed any services for any of the companies that at such time have filed applications under the Invest Nebraska Act, and the firm must agree not to engage in and to withdraw from representing any companies that file applications after such audit commences and before the audit report is issued; (c) the firm must have executed such audit contract as required by the Tax Commissioner; and (d) the firm, and all such accountants and personnel of such firm who will be involved in the audit, must have executed such confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements as required by the Tax Commissioner. In hiring such firm, the Tax Commissioner shall comply with all Nebraska laws pertaining to the selection and hiring of outside private sector services.
(2) The purpose of the audit is to examine information collected by the department in order to determine:
(a) The extent the data collected from the companies receiving benefits is verified;
(b) The extent to which the projects receiving benefits from the act are in compliance with the act initially and throughout the entitlement period;
(c) Whether the requirements of the act regarding the investment threshold have been attained and maintained by the companies;
(d) Whether and to what extent new employees are added by the companies to their workforce and employed at the project locations;
(e) Whether and to what extent the new jobs created meet the minimum compensation requirements of the act;
(f) The industry or industries in which the new jobs are created, by North American Industry Classification System Code;
(g) The extent to which the minimum new job threshold of the act has been attained and maintained by the companies;
(h) By category of spending, what is purchased by the companies that is claimed as qualified investments; and
(i) Gross sales from output of the project if reasonably determinable.
(3) After the audit is conducted, and on or before January 1, 2005, and each January 1 every five years thereafter, the auditor shall issue a report to the Legislature and Governor detailing the results of the audit. The report submitted to the Legislature shall be submitted electronically. The report shall be presented using aggregated information and other techniques so as not to reveal confidential information that allows identification of the company. The report shall not be issued until the Tax Commissioner has confirmed in writing that the report does not reveal any confidential information that allows identification of the company. For purposes of this section, confidential information includes all information that is (a) referred to as confidential in section 77-5534, (b) restricted from disclosure or treated as confidential under any federal or state law, or (c) provided by the company to the department in connection with the company's project under the act. The report shall detail all assumptions, methods, or models that were used in performing the analysis and shall report information by industry group or expenditure category so that further analysis can be performed. The firm shall have access to all records of the department with regard to the credits granted under the act and the companies receiving such credits. Such records shall remain confidential in the hands of the firm conducting the audit and shall not be revealed to any person that is not employed by the department or the firm conducting the audit. No officer or employee of the firm conducting the audit shall disclose any information to any other person if such information is protected by federal or state confidentiality laws. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, neither the independent accounting firm nor any of its personnel shall be provided by the department with any confidential information except to the extent and under conditions when the department is permitted without penalty to do so under applicable federal or state laws.
(4) All information provided by the department to the independent accounting firm shall be examined only on the premises of the department and shall be stored in a secure place. The firm shall make no copies of such information. Any qualified independent accounting firm, or any personnel of the firm, which violates this section shall be guilty of a Class IV felony and, in the discretion of the court, may be assessed the costs of prosecution.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the company to provide, or require the department to obtain from the company, any information beyond that required as part of the application or beyond that required by the department to confirm the company is entitled to the benefits of the act or to obtain the information required in subsection (2) of this section. The independent accounting firm shall not request any information from the company or its personnel. The independent accounting firm shall be permitted and expected to obtain additional outside public information available from sources outside of the company and the department in order to comply with the requirements for the report if copies of all such data, information, and sources are made available to the public or included with the report.
(6) Information obtained in connection with the audit from either the department or the company is confidential and is not discoverable or admissible in evidence in any civil action, and no department or company personnel shall be compelled to testify in regard thereto. Such information may be discovered and be admissible, and testimony compelled in regard thereto, by the department or by the company in an action relating to the determination of whether the company is entitled to the benefits of the act.
- Public Accountancy Act, see section 1-105.