State officials will pay five-point-seven-million dollars to the federal government, money allegedly misspent in connection with a program that was supposed to create a high-tech military research laboratory in central Iowa. Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says it was a partnership with a private contractor called International Simulation Training System. He says the plan was to use the simulators to create “virtual training” for soldiers in the Iowa National Guard. Hapgood says it was expected to give a big boost to readiness and soldiers wouldn’t have to leave their homes and families for long periods of time to go through training. At some point in the project, Hapgood says there were warning flags raised about the money being spent.He says more investigation was done through the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office, which controls money coming into the guard, determined there were indeed “some issues regarding funding.” Flash forward two and a half years, he suggests, and the now-completed investigation confirms some funds, though not exactly “mal-appropriated,” were paid by federal funds that will be have to be reimbursed by the state. The bottom line — the state and federal government have agreed Iowa owes the feds five-point-7-million dollars. Paying back the money will present a special challenge — Hapgood says the Iowa National Guard gets a very small share of its budget from the state. He says the guard’s 300-million dollars a year in funding only contains two or 3-percent a year from the state. Since that’s such a small share, money will come out of the general fund and be paid back over four fiscal years, with the first payment due this June and the last one to be made in fiscal year 2008. The probe also concluded that two top officials bore responsibility for the an office in Arizona, holiday parties, payments for individual retirement accounts and other questionable expenses. The director of the Iowa Technology Center was Brigadier General Joe Lucas who retired from the National Guard several months ago, before the release of any of these findings. Program manager for CIVIC, the Consolidated Interactive Virtual Information System, program was Colonel David Ray, who left the program and retired before the investigation began. The U.S. Attorney has decided not to file any criminal charges. The final report will be forwarded to the secretaries of the Army and Air Force, and they will have the final decision on whether any charges will be filed.
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