A report will be released soon on spending at South Carolina State University’s Clyburn Transportation Center. State legislators ordered an audit of the school’s spending of federal and state money of the center that is not constructed yet. Allegedly, $50 million has flowed to the center over the past 12 years, parts of which are unaccounted for.
The Legislative Audit Council took a thorough look at a series of issues, according to Thomas Bardin, the council’s director:
…to examine the funding for the actual building project, the Clyburn Transportation Building program over there, and make sure that funds have been expended, and to examine reasons for delays in the construction project. The other part they asked us to do is to determine why South Carolina State lost Tier 1 designation–federal designation. South Carolina State was like one of 30 colleges in the country to have Tier 1 designation, which is kind of a high status.
–And it was a status that came with federal funding, which the school lost.
The full Legislative Audit Council last week approved the audit results, with some small edits to be made.
After we’ve done that–and I’ll clarify a couple things in the report summary–to proceed with the exit process of South Carolina State, we’ll give them a copy of the draft report and give them up to 10 days to respond to the issues in the report. We will look at their response and determine what we might need to do–if anything–and then proceed with final publication.
The final report summary will be released to the public soon says Bardin.
The LAC worked alongside the federal Office of Inspector General and the Office of Health and Human Services without doubling their efforts.
So we did not duplicate anybody’s work, and the fed’s Office of Inspector General at the federal level was down looking at about $10 million or $12 million worth of grants that had been flowing through the center. So we did not do any audit work on that part of it. And we were hoping to get that audit before we published, but that’s probably not going to be possible now.
Bardin and the LAC understood what the federal auditors were looking for, but had hoped to see their final report before releasing the report to the state.
So I’m relatively confident that a substantial portion of the federal funds that have flowed through for the program have been audited, or are underway as we speak. It will be completed–we hope–relatively soon.
The LAC director says his agency exhaustively studied internal controls and how the bulk of the money has been spent. Bardin says he is confident the LAC report will answer legislators’ questions.
The Times and Democrat newspaper reports that about $26 million was earmarked for construction and, at the beginning of the audit, $20 million remained in federal hands. The remainder of the money was designated for transportation programs and was spent.
The LAC was charged with examining the $6 million spent from the building funds. The school can respond to the LAC report and those issues will be clarified and will be attached to the report. The State DOT is also looking at the school’s use of transportation funds that had to flow through them to the school. LAC is waiting on that report, too.
What happens next with the LAC report depends on lawmakers, who called for the legislative audit at about the same time the federal government was looking into SC State’s spending on the transportation center. The facility–far from complete–was to be named after Congressman James Clyburn.