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S.C. State Wants Taxpayers to Foot Audit Bill

Imagine you run a business. You’re not very good at things mechanical or electrical, but attempt to renovate your office, anyway. In the end, you start a fire that results in extensive structural damage. It takes a damage-restoration business considerable time and effort to get things in working order again.

How do you respond?

  • By cutting the company a big check and swearing off do-it-yourself work?
  • By pulling out a wad of money and peeling off Benjamins for the folks who cleaned up your mess? or
  • By asking the company that repaired the damage you created to pay for the work?

If you’re like South Carolina State University, the third option would be your first choice.

Consider this: S.C. State is looking for the state to pay more than $80,000 to reimburse the university for the costs associated with a recently completed audit by the Legislative Audit Council of the school’s James E. Clyburn Transportation Center. 

No other state agency audited by the LAC is seeking such reimbursement.

The audit, released last June, questioned some spending and billing, as well as the lack of a plan to raise more than $80 million needed to complete the center.

More than $50 million has already been directed to the center since 1998.

“SCSU is also obligated to pay $3 million in state or other funds during the next two fiscal years to match federally-appropriated funds and plans to use lottery appropriations for the match. SCSU’s past reliance on federal earmarks is doubtful in the future since SCSU has lost its designation as a Tier I University Transportation Center,” according to the LAC report.

The LAC noted that after 13 years, no construction had been completed. The project as of last year had been delayed for nearly two years after construction started on land the university thought it owned but didn’t.

The LAC identified other examples of institutional shortcomings, as well.

“Inadequate financial controls have resulted in insufficient state matching funds for both construction and center programs, unwarranted travel reimbursements, and overbillings that needed to be repaid,” it stated. “SCSU has a potential liability to repay funds to cover the shortfall in state match (up to $1.7 million), and other disallowed expenses; the federal government has not reimbursed SCSU for approximately $900,000 in grant receivables requested five years ago.”

And now, nearly a year after the decidedly unflattering report came out, S.C. State is looking for the residents of South Carolina to pick up the tab for the audit, to the tune of $80,142, to be exact.

Interestingly, the funding request wasn’t included in the school’s FY 2012-13 budget request, but in proviso 90.20.

S.C. State’s bid to recover the costs of the audit is one of a number of solicitations in the proviso.

Ironically, it’s lumped in with a pair of requests from the Legislative Audit Council – one for $45,000 for a technology information upgrade, and another for $15,000 for a peer review audit.

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022 ext. 110, or kevin@thenerve.org.

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James Clyburn Transportation Center South Carolina State University SCSU Legislative Audit Council Clyburn Transportation Center S.C. State University