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For years, this website has called on South Carolina lawmakers to eliminate funding for Clemson University’s unnecessary “Public Service Activities” agency. In fact, we’ve recommended that Clemson be cut off from the taxpayer dole completely.

“With its expensive, expanding bureaucracy, unconstitutional governing board and relentless pursuit of manipulation … Clemson has no business getting another dime from S.C. taxpayers,” we wrote last December.

Obviously we still feel that way …

But within Clemson’s wide-ranging web of wasteful spending, PSA stands out as an especially inexcusable bureaucracy – one that doles out huge salaries to utterly non-essential personnel (including a $93,627-a-year job occupied by the spouse of a powerful Democratic state lawmaker).

On Thursday, a report issued by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (LAC) delved into the inner workings of this ridiculous agency – nearly a year after Clemson officials fought unsuccessfully to block the inquiry.

What did the report uncover? For starters, the LAC audit revealed “specific duplication of effort between Clemson PSA activities and the Forestry Commission regarding youth forestry education programs, as well as landowner associations.”

Wait … youth forestry programs and working with landowner associations are core functions of state government? Of course not … but in South Carolina it appears we’re paying for these things not once, but twice.

“Duplication also exists between Clemson PSA and the S.C. Department of Agriculture regarding workshops to educate South Carolina growers about farmers’ markets and work with community gardening,” the report found.

Community gardening?

In addition to these duplicative expenses, the LAC report also found that the agency is doubling up on inspection work that’s being done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities around the state. Eliminating duplication in this area would save state taxpayers $1 million annually … well, assuming S.C. lawmakers had passed a “taxpayer rebate fund” last year (which they didn’t, obviously).

The real problem with PSA, though? It has evolved into a catch-all agency that can justify virtually any expense … including spending your tax dollars to count fireflies.

“The PSA mission encompasses a wide array of disparate programs, and is sufficiently broad to include almost any type of activity,” the LAC report found.

Well … duh.

Not surprisingly, all of this unnecessary and duplicative spending requires a horde of overpaid bureaucrats – led by agency head John W. Kelly, who is compensated to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars annually. In addition to receiving this fat salary, Kelly has apparently been taking very good care of his underlings with your money.

“(Executive level) employees received pay raises, some significant, from FY 05-06 through FY 09-10; however, the human resource files of these employees did not include appropriate documentation justifying the amounts of raises awarded,” the report notes. “In addition, the job performance of 19 of 20 unclassified employees had not been formally evaluated in the past five years.”

Wow. Good to know we’re insisting on value in the administration of unnecessary programs that are already being performed by other government agencies …

S.C. lawmakers need to wipe this agency off of the map – and cut Clemson loose to pursue its destiny as a private institution. Not only that, they need to identify the other state agencies that are performing these non-core functions and cut their funding accordingly.

CLEMSON PSA AUDIT SUMMARY (.pdf)
CLEMSON PSA AUDIT (.pdf)

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