Wednesday, December 01, 2010

CIRM Defends Its Information Practices

Earlier today, we told the California stem cell agency we would be glad to carry verbatim a response to our item – Public and Industry Left in Dark by California Stem Cell Agency. The agency and its directors have a standing invitation from the California Stem Cell Report to comment on this Web site and have their entire remarks carried without editing.

Here is what was filed by James Harrison, outside counsel to the CIRM board.
“CIRM takes its obligation to fully inform the public very seriously.  In fact, in most cases, there are multiple opportunities for the public to participate in the development of CIRM's policies.  Through the use of subcommittees, draft policies are normally made public well in advance of the full Board's consideration of those policies, and the public has an opportunity to comment on the policies at subcommittee meetings and at Board meetings before they are adopted. 
“When you criticize the agency for not posting materials ten days before a subcommittee meeting (which, as you know, is not required by law), you ignore the fact that the Board's subcommittees do not typically make final decisions; rather, they consider draft policies and make recommendations to the Board, which provides the public a second opportunity to comment.  The Finance Subcommittee Meeting is a good example.  The question of warrant coverage and a payback alternative have been raised at a prior public meeting and the Finance Subcommittee will not make any final decisions this week; rather, its recommendations will go to the full Board for consideration, providing another opportunity for public input. 
“In the case of the Governance Subcommittee, there are no written materials for two of the items because they are placeholders which will not be addressed at the meeting (because Bagley-Keene requires CIRM to post the agenda ten days in advance of a meeting, we sometimes include items before we know whether consideration of the items will be required in order to preserve the opportunity to consider them).  As to the one item which will be considered (the role of the former chair), the discussion is intended to be conceptual.  If the Subcommittee decides to move forward on this item, written materials will be prepared and distributed well in advance of the Board meeting at which it is considered.”
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