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Bill to reform USTAR goes to governor

After audit » Agency criticized for exaggerating jobs created and effect on economy.

First Published Mar 12 2014 09:32 am • Last Updated Mar 12 2014 09:00 pm

Reacting to a recent scathing report, the House gave final passage Wednesday to reform of the $34 million Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, a state program designed to turn high-tech university research into new jobs and businesses.

The House passed SB62 on a 72-2 vote, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

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The bill comes after a legislative audit slammed the program for exaggerating the number of jobs created and the money generated for Utah’s economy.

"This addresses a lot of the problems that we found with USTAR," said Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, the House sponsor of the bill. "I think we’re in a pretty good place with this bill."

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, ordered the earlier audit and drafted SB62 to fix many of the problems identified with lack of oversight, accountability and measurable goals.

The bill would require what Shiozawa called exhaustive annual reports looking at each USTAR research team and the overall operation.

It would set clearer lines of responsibility and more oversight by its board along with better job-performance goals.

It also would push the agency to become self-funding and eliminate state subsidies.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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