Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Formulating a Plan to Give Away $3 Billion

Strategic planning can be one of those "yawner" endeavors – a meaningless process that is ignored by all parties hardly before the ink dries on the plan document.

But at CIRM it has been a matter of considerable concern, pitting different interests on the Oversight Committee against each other.(See "clashing interests"). The lack of a coherent plan has also played a role in some of administrative and other problems that have troubled the new agency.

At one point late last year the start-up difficulties prompted Paul Berg, a Nobel laureate from Stanford who fills in on the Oversight Committee, to say, "I liken it to the Iraq thinking - we won the war and didn't know what to do afterward." (See "beleaguered.")

With that backdrop, the latest run at planning the strategic plan kicks off Thursday at a meeting in San Francisco of the governance subcommittee of the Oversight group.

The item in question is a $250,000-plus contract with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to support efforts to develop a strategic plan. The agenda mentions an attached document which is not yet available on the Web, but presumably will tell us more about the latest approach.

One key matter to watch for is the approach to the interests of the patient advocates, who are pressing for speedy development of therapies and seem to be quite concerned about any slower strategy.

Also on the agenda is a policy for peddling naming rights to CIRM programs or property in connection with the receipt of gifts. (See "naming.")

A proposal for a compensation plan at CIRM is up for consideration along with the latest on outside contracts with CIRM. The contracts include $75,000 with Spiegel, Liao and Kagay and $25,000 with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, both of San Francisco, for work on the California stem cell trial and expected appeal.

The meeting to consider all this will take place in San Francisco at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Remote locations are available in San Diego, Stanford, Sacramento, Irvine and three different sites in Los Angeles. Details are available on the agenda.

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