State audit: No missing funds at Clyburn center

An artists rendering of the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center. / SC State

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- A state audit says no money is missing at a troubled transportation research center at South Carolina State University named for U.S. Rep. James Clyburn.

But the Legislative Audit Council report released Tuesday says the Orangeburg school doesn't have a viable plan to raise more than $80 million needed to complete the center.

Clyburn says he's not surprised a state audit found no money missing from the long-delayed project at his alma mater. Clyburn also says he would support more federal money for the center.

This report vindicates what I have been saying all along about the Transportation Center funding. No federal funds are missing," Clyburn says. "They are sitting safely at the National Highway Trust Fund waiting to be drawn down after approved expenditures are made by the university as mandated by this cost-reimbursement contract award."

The school announced plans in 1998 for a center to conduct research and train transportation workers.

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Lawmakers requested the audit after newspaper reports that school officials couldn't account for millions in state and federal funding.

School president George Cooper said before the audit that the Orangeburg school can explain how it spent federal money planned for a transportation research center.

Construction on the center began in August 2010. The project was given the green light back in 1998.

Auditors say even with full funding, the center will not be finished until 2020. They say a lack of oversight and experience has meant construction delays. The program has lost a federal grant and its designation as a federal transportation center.

The center will recruit students from South Carolina State and other colleges in the area who are interested in studying the changing trends in transportation.

Watch video of SC State Board of Trustees Chairman Jonathan Pinson responding to the audit report below.


(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)