Friday, June 23, 2006

"Good" Audit, Poor Cooperation at CIRM

Should an auditor hired by a state agency refuse to provide copies of information about that agency to the one of the key fiscal watchdogs for the state of California?

One would think not. After all, aren't all state agencies supposed to be working together?

That situation involved the California stem cell agency and the auditing firm, Gilbert Associates, that it hired to conduct an audit as required by law. The state Controller's office is the agency that attempted to secure copies of the information. But Gilbert refused to provide the copies, arguing that the information was proprietary. Based on statements from CIRM and the controller's office, the situation has been cleared up.

But it does not augur well for CIRM's responsiveness to continuing concerns about its openness and transparency.

John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights of Santa Monica, Ca., said,
"CIRM would have us believe that the audit demonstrates the institute operates within the common practices of state agencies. Other state agencies don't hire auditors who stiff the controller's office when it's operating on behalf of the people of California."

"The bottom line is simple. CIRM is a state agency; they must act like one. I guess CIRM management needs to engrave that motto on their foreheads."
We should not have to remind readers that audits vary widely. And some auditors feel unwilling to bring bad news to the enterprises that hire them. The headlines were full of news a few years ago about collapsing companies with beautiful audit findings.

Here is a link to the San Francisco Chronicle story by Carl Hall on the audit findings. Here is the CIRM press release, the controller's report and the audit itself, which covers only the 2004-2005 fiscal year. Sphere: Related Content

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