What is the South Carolina Research Authority?

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That question was asked at a recent meeting of the House Ways & Means Committee – and not a single lawmaker had an answer. Here are 10 things you should know about our state’s “Research Authority.”

  1. The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) is a state-created and state-controlled technology and real estate company. It contracts with private companies and government agencies (Boeing, the Department of Defense, etc.) to supply technology-based services.
  2. Supposedly a “corporate” entity, SCRA pays no income, property, or sales taxes.
  3. As a contractor, SCRA competes directly against South Carolina-based firms.
  4. Combined, SCRA’s top five income-earners make more than $1 million annually. And that does not include bonuses.
  5. SCRA has received more than 1,500 acres in land from state and local governments.
  6. SCRA affiliate SC Launch, is funded through the Industry Partners Fund – donations to which receive a 100 percent credit against state taxes. The Fund siphons away up to $6 million from the state’s General Fund every year.
  7. SCRA permits virtually no transparency. Board meetings are largely spent in “executive session,” and the agency simply refuses to respond to Freedom of Information requests.
  8. Only 30 percent of SCRA’s work goes to firms located in South Carolina, and around 30 percent of its employees are located outside the state.
  9. SCRA has become involved in high-risk financing. Recently it loaned $275,000 to a bus manufacturer after one of the company’s major backers pleaded guilty on fraud charges.
  10. The new chairman of SCRA’s board is also a top executive at Boeing. Its last chairman resigned after repeated attempts to bring transparency to the agency proved impossible.

The South Carolina Policy Council is a 501(c)3 organization.
Nothing in the foregoing should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder passage of any legislation.

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