This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utahns who care about good government may find that they have all they can handle watching our state government's obviously questionable, if not downright nefarious, endeavors.
You know, trying to get "back" millions of acres of federal land that never belonged to us in the first place. Or bankrolling economically and environmentally foolish coal projects.
The burden of bird-dogging those operations makes it more difficult, though no less important, to keep a proper eye on programs and agencies that are, in theory at least, clearly in the public interest.
The Utah Transit Authority is the prime example of that dilemma. Any metropolitan area especially one as rapidly growing and as subject to air pollution as the Wasatch Front requires a large, efficient and unified mass transit service.
But deserved support for the agency's purposes and goals has sometimes hidden, and more recently been undermined by, years of questionable spending and management practices. All of that is in the process of being upgraded, and there is hope that the UTA of the future will be all about more and better service, not longer and more depressing audits.
The Utah College of Applied Technology, another entity with a praiseworthy purpose, is the latest agency to come under fire for poor audits and politically tone-deaf decisions.
First, UCAT was dinged in a state audit for greatly inflating its graduation rate by counting the completion of brief refreshers and updates sought by welders, hairdressers, etc., as if they were the same as full certificates in those and other professional and trade skills.
That led to reform legislation passed in the last session of the Legislature, governance reform that its chief sponsor, state Sen. Stephen Urquhart of St. George, hoped would make the program more transparent and responsible.
And maybe it will. But, as the old structure is on its way out, the UCAT board was about to grant the agency's outgoing president a bonus post-retirement health-insurance benefit for himself and his wife.
Rob Brems, who led UCAT during the period when the actions criticized in the audit were taking place, was about to win a package of benefits worth $56,000 before Urquhart raised the alarm and the request was dropped.
Not that big, as corporate golden parachutes go. But still out of line for a public agency, especially when that agency's success in serving the public has been questionable at best.
Apparently, lawmakers, auditors and the public will still need to watch UCAT. The fact that its stated purpose is commendable won't mean that its management always is, too.