… First among many and the Star for Today
… is …
Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR)
We proceed from the outside looking in!
We ask, “What’s happening with USTAR’s … road killed … remains?”
What the Tribune had to say … “first” …
3/8/2017 Audit: $334 million USTAR effort inflated jobs, revenue
by Lindsay Whitehurst of The Salt Lake Tribune
USTAR, hailed as an engine for innovation, has exaggerated — by thousands — the number of jobs it has created and inflated — by millions — the amount of money it has brought in, a new audit says.
The $334 million Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative is designed to create jobs and businesses by investing in and leveraging university research.
“It appears to me that USTAR has been more of just a glitzy way to fund University of Utah and Utah State University research,” said Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, at a Legislative Audit Subcommittee meeting Tuesday. “We could have done that without the glitzy title.”
The problems stem from a “complete lack of management,” said House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R- Provo.
USTAR was created in 2006 to recruit researchers, promote technology commercialization and build university research facilities with the aim of expanding the number of technology-based start-up companies and high-paying jobs. It has played a key role in recruiting several prominent researchers to the state’s universities, Niederhauser said.
In a January report, the organization said it had created 3,380 jobs, but about 60 percent of those no longer existed — they were construction gigs at already-completed research facilities. The number of research-based positions, meanwhile, was based on projections rather than actual jobs and auditors could confirm only a fraction of those had actually been created and filled.
The organization also claimed to bring in $463 million in contracts, sponsored research and private donations. But more than half that money, about $268 million, was either over-reported, hardly involved USTAR or represented contracts that hadn’t yet paid out.
Legislators also hoped that USTAR would ramp up revenue from commercializing technologies created at Utah’s universities, but aside from about $33,000 at USU, that hasn’t happened, the report found.
Auditors couldn’t independently confirm that USTAR has helped companies raise $56.7 million in external funding, meanwhile, because those numbers are self-reported by the businesses and there is no mechanism for validating them. In addition, the audit found the USTAR Governing Authority hasn’t always followed the state’s open-meetings laws for keeping minutes and recordings.
Executive Director Ted McAleer didn’t dispute the findings Tuesday, instead pointing to a revolving door of financial managers in recent years for the bad data. By Lindsay Whitehurst The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah and USTAR got Tax and Stimulus $MMs and RAN!
A Summary of the Utah Legislative Auditor General’s Report of 2013.
A Performance Audit of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) We found that USTAR’s reported return on investment (ROI) was inaccurate and flawed. Over half of the reported revenues was unrealized, invalid, and overreported. Jobs created were also inflated and USTAR’s reported ROI was not reflective of an expansion of tax revenue to the state. Also, USTAR has inadequately supervised research team funding, insufficiently overseen its research facilities, and has not effectively managed its outreach programs. Lastly, USTAR needs to improve the administration and governance of its operations. Since fiscal year 2007, the public invested almost $334 million in USTAR to support new university research teams, construct research facilities, and establish technology outreach programs across the state. Full Report – A Performance Audit of the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative(USTAR)
Auditor “speak” … “We found that USTAR’s reported return on investment (ROI) was inaccurate and flawed.”
Translated by The Ole’ Buzzard … “False and misleading information leading to artifice, design, and scheme to defraud.”
Auditor “speak” … “Jobs created were also inflated ….”
Translated by the Ole’ Buzzard … “Ghost employees and fraud.”
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to USTAR. Total state and federal dollars invested in USTAR through fiscal year 2014 (including the general obligation construction bonds) equals almost $334 million, as follows:
- From fiscal years 2007 through 2014, state General Fund appropriations equal over $134.2 million (fiscal year 2014 numbers are budgeted amounts).
- Federal ARRA stimulus dollars received and spent in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 equal $33 million (this money was appropriated by the Legislature to USTAR to replace cuts in its General Fund appropriations).
- State costs for the construction bonds for the U of U and USU USTAR buildings equal over $166.5 million. These bonds are scheduled to be paid off in fiscal year 2017.
… Utah tied 50th on Good Jobs First’s 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus.
“The state failed to earn any points by neglecting to disclose program allocations, any kind of geographic distribution of Recovery Act funds, how those funds were distributed with regard to economic distress indicators, or report any job creation data. Contractor information: none.”
Utah got the Tax and Stimulus $MMs and RAN???
Nobody’s in jail over the foregoing?
Stay tuned for what follows.
Remarkable, unconscionable, unforgivable, despicable …
The Offices of the Utah Attorney General and the offices of The United States Attorney for Utah must all be comatose.
The Agents we were and have known back in the day would have been salivating and frothing at the mouth to get at this mess.
But … where to send the evidence once it’s collected?
Send such cases to United States Attorney John Huber … hardly!
See here an article by Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter, “Clinton, Comey, Uranium One: Who Is John W. Huber?” wherein Morrison states, “The Office of U.S. Attorney in Utah, by contrast, has been toothless.“
Huber, cleaner extraordinaire, prizes non-prosecution agreements and/or deferred prosecution agreements with and for his fellow Goodfellas.
“Tis vile to rob a henroost of a hen but thieving largely makes us gentlemen.”
As for Utah Attorney General Rap’n Rambo Sean Reyes …
… what notable steps other than to pay lip service has he taken to pursue and prosecute Utah’s Goodfellas? What has he done proactively to address and remediate Utah’s reputation as the affinity fraud capital of the Nation? Who among the elite Goodfellas at or responsible for USTAR, UTA, DABC, UCA, URS, LPP, Fund of Funds Et. al. have gone to jail?
However, the real head scratcher is …
… why does Reyes surface “on the take” from Energy Solutions to the tune of $47,500.00?
Could he be trusted to take on Utah’s elite Goodfellas? Ha! Fat chance!
Utah’s following, dismal, integrity report … is but one sign of a mess!
What’s left of USTAR?
The Road Kill Remains.
The 2019 Utah Legislature has given us a peek at what may shape up to be a typical, Utah, quasi government shell game and the preamble to … “Where’s the money?” … “Whose got the money?” … “Where’d it go?”
S.B. 212 “USTAR Amendments” among many other things, “…dissolves the USTAR Governing Authority….” See below for the money flow.zSB0212S01.fn
What a strange “brew!”
It looks like The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) now has the keys to what remains of USTAR’s cash kitty. Should this seeming shell game be making us nervous?
Well yes. We are. We really are. All the while USTAR’s activities are being terminated, they have been pushing an aggressive calendar of events https://ustar.org/news-and-events
While dwelling on the above, we project our thoughts to the possibility of honoraria paid to presenters like Mitt Romney (at about $50,000 a pop), venues, overhead, salaries, awards funded by USTAR revenues. We sense a hemorrhage of remaining resources. This isn’t draining the swamp. It’s draining into the swamp. (See also “Campaign rivals cry foul after state agency invites Mitt Romney to speak at its tech summit” Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) — invited the former GOP presidential nominee to be the keynote speaker at its upcoming heavily advertised public technology summit. )
See also “Failed USTAR” where we put more lipstick on that pig.
Postscript … there’s always a P.S.
In-as-much-as Utah State University (USU) wallowed in USTAR’s largess and we’ve already done some thinking on it and poking around “here and there,” we’ll be sleuthing a bit more in the future regarding the following:
There’s the interesting appearance of some hasty “ship jumping” by USU’s USTAR guru Dr. Robert Behunin and others.
Does USU really need a CIA Mole dug in as the Director of Analytics at USU’s Space Dynamics lab? A huge piece of the STEM at USU has been inextricably intertwined with USTAR and some pretty spooky “stuff” and folks.
USU’s technology spin off from Storm to GeoMetWatch to Tempus Global Data dived right into a Utah federal litigation quagmire and has The Ole’ Buzzard’s dog in the fight. We filed ethics complaints against Federal Judge Jill Parrish and her Federal Magistrate Paul Warner who are presiding over stalled litigation. We allege this matter is rife with intrigue and conflict of interest all around. See also “Control the Weather – Control the World!“
My how we pine to work our sources, issue subpoenas and serve search warrants. We’d let loose a sitting Grand Jury and a competent bunch of Junk Yard Dog prosecutors who we knew “back in the day.” They’d jump with delight right into the middle of this mess!
For this posting, we give ourselves the following award!
Major, U.S. Army Special Forces Ret.Former FBI Agent 1970-76Retired EducatorMember Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)Freelance Commentator and Political “Lurker”