“That arrangement is hardly a model of objective decision making. The agency so far has distributed about $1.7 billion in grants, with about 90 percent of that money going to institutions represented on the governing board.
“Voluntary abstentions are not a serious solution to that ethical minefield. Nor would that approach eliminate potential conflicts, because the agency would still allow the abstaining members to take part in the discussions and debate about who should get the grants.
“The Institute of Medicine instead recommended remaking the board with truly independent members who have no stake in grant awards. The stem-cell agency rejected that step because it would require changing Prop. 71, either through a super-majority in the Legislature or another ballot measure. That excuse should be a vivid warning to Californians about the dangers of passing complex, costly and inflexible initiatives.
“Agencies handling billions of taxpayers’ dollars should not avoid good government practice or basic fiscal safeguards. The stem-cell institute offers minor fixes when it needs substantial changes — and legislators should not accept that cavalier approach.”Sphere: Related Content