Monday, October 05, 2009

Will CIRM Withhold Economic Data?

The California stem cell agency today left open the possibility that the basic data gathered during a proposed $300,000 economic impact study will be withheld from the public and outside researchers.

The question of whether CIRM considers the information a public record arose in connection with the proposed contract with LECG of Emeryville, Ca., which comes before the CIRM directors' Governance Subcommittee during a teleconference meeting Tuesday.

Earlier today, we pointed out that none of the CIRM documents currently available on the proposed study provide assurances that the basic information, which will be gathered at taxpayer expense, will be considered open to the public and made available in a non-proprietary format.

We asked CIRM in an email,
“Will the data gathered under the economic impact study proposal to be considered tomorrow be public record? Will it be available in a non-proprietary format?”
Here is the verbatim response from Don Gibbons, CIRM's chief communications officer.
“We don’t quite have a final contract yet.”
CIRM's best interests would be well served in being very explicit that the data are public. The agency holds an unprecedented position in state history and is engaged in activities that reach deep into the scientific community, academia and the biotech industry. To draw a curtain over information that would allow truly independent study of CIRM's impact would be a disservice to California taxpayers and to those who would study CIRM in the future.

Just as scientists test the results of research by attempting to replicate published results, it is only appropriate to apply the same standard in the case of the CIRM economic study. That means that the basic data must be available to all researchers or interested parties, not just those consultants hired by CIRM. Sphere: Related Content

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