Lawmakers call for an audit of multimillion-dollar transportation center at South Carolina State University
The Post and Courier
July 4, 2010
South Carolina legislators want their own investigators to find out what happened to millions of state and federal dollars used for South Carolina State University's James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center.
The call by eight members of the General Assembly for the investigation from the state Legislative Audit Council came Thursday, the same day the university's Board of Trustees voted to rehire President George Cooper, whom it fired June 15.
State Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, said he has gathered signatures from six legislators, including his own, and has commitments from two others. The audit council, which functions as the Legislature's investigative body, requires the signatures of at least five legislators before it will move forward with a performance audit of a state agency or program.
Ford said he called for the audit council investigation in response to a June 14 Post and Courier investigation, which found that 12 years after the program was launched, the site sits vacant, no transportation research is under way and the center lost its federal designation.
More than $50 million has flowed to the transportation center since 1998, about half for transportation programs and half for the first phase of a new transportation complex to be named in honor of Clyburn, the U.S. House majority whip and a graduate of S.C. State, South Carolina's only public historically black university.
While the university has on hand most of the $26.3 million for the first phase of the new building, school finance officials have been unable to account for millions of federal dollars for transportation-related programs.
Ford said the bipartisan group of legislators who have called for the audit report did so because they "want South Carolina State University to be the flagship African-American university in the country."