Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CIRM Directors Take Up Evaluation of Top Management

How should CIRM Chairman Robert Klein be evaluated? How should the performance of Art Torres, co-vice chairman of the $3 billion effort, be assessed? What about President Alan Trounson?

These matters are being considered at the first-ever meeting of the CIRM directors Evaluation Subcommittee, which comes five years after the agency was created and Klein selected for his post. Friday's session could provide an unusual opportunity to peek inside the nitty-gritty of management of a chimeric enterprise that combines big business, big science, big academia and big politics.

Depending on the job, the evaluation process will include solicitation of written comments from the governor, treasurer, state controller, some recipients of CIRM funding, patient advocates, the biotech industry and “other stakeholders.”

Questions to be addressed, in Klein's case, include whether he
  • Shows “comfort with and tolerance in managing diverse and conflicting opinions”
  • Demonstrates “a record of effectively communicating CIRM’s mission and accomplishments to stakeholders and public”
  • Works effectively with lawmakers to ensure on-going support of CIRM
One section on Klein's evaluation form deals with accountability. It asks whether he “effectively manages compliance with CIRM’s public accountability requirements, including (1) the annual public report (2) the independent financial audit; (3) the Citizens’ Financial Accountability Oversight Committee; (4) public meeting and records laws; (5) competitive bidding; (6) conflicts of interest; and (7) intellectual property standards.”

We should note that “compliance with...requirements” is rather minimal, just meeting what is needed by law. That standard does not, for example, reach Klein's oft-repeated assertion that CIRM adheres to the highest standards of openness and transparency. CIRM's accountability or lack of it has surfaced recently in news reports and in a statement by an influential state lawmaker, Sen. Elaine Kontominas Alquist, D-San Jose.

We should also note that state law that requires public sessions of some meetings of the directors Evaluation Subcommittee, including the one this week. However, the specific evaluation of the individuals will be private.

Klein, a Palo Alto real estate investment banker, initially declined a salary for the chairman's job, which has a pay range of $275,000 to $508,750. But in 2008, he said he would like to be paid. Directors approved $150,000 for what they specified was a half-time position.

Torres' job is also considered a part-time position; in his case, four days a week. In December, his salary was boosted from $75,000 for halftime work to the current $225,000. The range for the position fulltime is $180,000 to $332,000. Torres was formerly head of the state Democratic party and was a longtime state legislator.

The other co-chairman, Duane Roth, a San Diego area businessman, has declined a salary.

Trounson began work in January 2008 at a salary of $490,008. His job has the same range as that of the chairman.

Here are links to  the evaluation procedure and the evaluation forms for Klein and Trounson.

Evaluation of the vice chairmen is not specifically on the agenda but is mentioned in the committee's background information. More specifics are likely to surface at a later date and be colored by experience with evaluation of Klein and Trounson. Also to be considered later is the question of just how to evaluate an employee who is not being paid – Roth.

Teleconference locations for the meeting are available for public participation in India and throughout the state, including San Francisco, Los Angeles(2), Elk Grove, La Jolla, Pleasanton, Menlo Park and Emeryville.

All locations, including the one in India, must be open to the public by state law. CIRM has not responded to our question about which CIRM director is in India.

Specific addresses of the teleconference locations can be found on the meeting agenda. To avoid confusion at the time of the meeting, you may want to call CIRM in advance if you plan to attend one of the teleconference locations. Sphere: Related Content

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