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Audit praises nanocollege’s financial oversight

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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The UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering campus in Albany.
The UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering campus in Albany.

— The nonprofit development corporation that oversees the University at Albany’s nanotechnology campus is doing a good job of managing millions in state investment, according to state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli’s office recently audited Fuller Road Management Corp. — the public-private partnership managing the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering — and found no major problems.

About $14 billion has been invested by the state and private partners to develop the high-tech research facilities at the college.

“The college’s nanotechnology research facilities receive billions of dollars from the state and private companies from across the globe,” DiNapoli said. “FRMC officers, directors and committee members have done well to make sure taxpayer and private dollars are being safeguarded and being spent appropriately.”

The audit faulted the corporation over one potential conflict-of-interest issue.

Two members of its board, Carl A. Florio and George M. Phillip, also serve on the board of First Niagara Financial Group, the parent company of First Niagara banks. First Niagara received more than $100,000 in transaction fees from the corporation, according to the audit.

The potential conflict of interest and the transaction fees were not initially disclosed as required on FRMC’s 2010 Internal Revenue Service Form 990, though both properly disclosed their relationship with First Niagara on the FRMC Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement. During the audit, the corporation filed a revised Form 990 that included the disclosure, DiNapoli said.

FRMC officials have since hired a new independent auditor to help ensure that there will be full compliance with regulatory reporting requirements.

“FRMC is appreciative of the efficiency, speed and expertise exhibited by the OSC’s auditing team in providing timely, detailed and beneficial analysis, as well as its effective guidance on oversight and governance matters,” said John Cavalier, chair of FRMC’s Audit Committee.

The nanotechnology complex has five buildings totaling more than 800,000 square feet of office, laboratory and classroom space, including 85,000 square feet of cleanroom facilities. Some 500,000 square feet of additional research space is under construction.

FRMC was formed in 1993 as a partnership between the Research Foundation for SUNY and the University at Albany Foundation, Inc., to provide for the construction of the Albany Nanotech complex. Between 2000 and 2009, $876 million in state funding came through the corporation.

About 3,100 people work at the nanotech complex, with students, teaching staff and industry research partners that include GlobalFoundries, IBM, International Sematech, Intel, Samsung and others.

 
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