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Legislature Approves USTAR Reforms

University of Utah
USTAR building on the University of Utah campus

A bill to reform the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) is heading to the governor’s desk for his approval. The legislation comes after an audit found that the program exaggerated the number of jobs created.

USTAR is designed to create new jobs and business by investing in university research. But a legislative audit last year showed that USTAR inflated the number of jobs created and the revenue generated. After reviewing the audit, lawmakers determined that the program suffered from lack of management. House Republican Jim Bird told his colleagues that Senate Bill 62 would ensure that there is more oversight of the program.

“All in all, I think this bill that we have addresses a lot of the problems that we found with USTAR. Not that we won’t do more tweaking down the road, but I think we’re in a pretty good place with this bill,” Bird said.

SB62 calls for greater oversight by the USTAR board, imposes new performance measurements, and requires annual reports detailing funding, expenses, job creation, and compensation for USTAR employees. The legislation also stipulates that there must be a lease agreement for USTAR buildings on state university campuses. The bill must be signed by the governor before it becomes law.

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