Friday, January 29, 2010

CIRM Disagrees with Many Recommendations for More Openness

The California stem cell agency has responded to recommendations from a key state panel for more openness, accountability and transparency on the part of CIRM, indicating disagreement with many of the suggestions.

The Citizens Financial Oversight Accountability Committee on Tuesday urged CIRM to operate in a manner that would enhance its credibility and accountability. State Controller John Chiang, the state's top fiscal officer and chairman of the committee, said,
“To ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent lawfully, wisely and successfully, the stem cell program must pursue the highest standards of transparency to be fully accountable to the public.”
On the same day that the committee made its unanimous recommendations, the California Stem Cell Report asked Don Gibbons, CIRM's chief communications officer, for a reaction to the committee's move for more openness. Gibbons did not respond to that query until today. His email followed the posting of the “Stem Cell Plans Shrouded” item on this Web site.

Gibbons' email today alluded to a “statement” posted Wednesday on the CIRM Web site. The statement was not circulated as part of CIRM's email alerts and could not be found via the agency's search engine. We found it under “announcements.”

In the announcement, CIRM, among other things, challenged the CFAOC's authority to conduct performance audits. CIRM's statement said,
“Proposition 71 made a very specific and limited assignment to the CFAOC, which is comprised of individuals with financial expertise and some medical background.”
Under Prop. 71, which altered the state Constitution and state law, CIRM effectively operates outside of the normal control of nearly all normal state oversight bodies, including the governor and the legislature, which cannot touch the agency's budget, even in the current state budget crisis. Changes in the law concerning CIRM can only be made with a rare, super super majority vote of 70 percent. Changes in constititutional provisions affecting CIRM would require a statewide vote.

CIRM's carefully worded announcement said the agency “welcomes” CFAOC input. CIRM said the “broader issues are important.” It defended its processes and rejected some of the recommendations, including the identification of all applicants for public money.

CIRM also said it is engaged in a review of its “core scientific programs” by outside scientists, who will examine “the research portfolio and policies and procedures for managing that portfolio.” CIRM said,
“The review by the outside panel will be made public.”
Presumably that would include extended public sessions of the panel, but the CIRM statement stopped short of explicitly saying that.

CIRM also said its Legislative Subcommittee also will discuss transition issues related to the expected departure of Chairman Robert Klein this December. The subcommittee will hold public meetings later this year. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I've been following up on your site quire regularly. My son plans to go for stem cell therapy early next year. I am worried that can CIRM's outburst have any effect on the therapy as a whole.