Thursday, December 11, 2014

New President and Organizational Tea Leaves from the California Stem Cell Agency

The new organization chart at the $3 billion California stem cell agency looks much different than the way it has looked has over the last 10 years.

Gone is the office of research and development, once headed by Ellen Feigal, who resigned last month. Gone is the office of scientific activities. Instead CIRM will have a “blood and cancer” unit and an “organ systems” unit, among other things.

CIRM President Randy Mills, who devised the plan, says it will be flatter, speedier and more efficient than the structure that has been in place more or less for the last 10 years. Mills joined he agency last May. CIRM directors are expected to ratify his plan later today.

Another interesting note popped up in examining the current organizational chart. James Harrison, who formerly was described as outside counsel to the CIRM board, is now listed as general counsel to the entire agency, albeit an independent contractor.

The change recognizes a reality that has been in place for 10 years. Indeed, Harrison, who is a partner in Remcho Johansen & Purcell of San Leandro, Ca., wrote portions of Prop. 71, the ballot initiative that created the agency in 2004.

Remcho is under a $500,000-a-year contract to provide services to CIRM, which it has been doing for the last decade.

The charts available this week for the new structure did not contain a list of employees in each unit nor did they list how many persons worked in the chairman’s office. In 2011, 12 of the 53 persons at the agency worked partly or entirely within the chairman’s office. That number had dropped to eight as of this week but prior to approval of the new structure.

The relationship between the chairman and the president of the agency has been rocky at times in the past because Prop. 71 gives them legally overlapping responsibilities. The situation has stirred public flaps, hampered executive recruitment and been criticized as harming accountability.

It is worth noting that for several early years in CIRM history, the number of its employees was less than the 29 persons who served on the agency’s governing board.

Here are two charts on the CIRM organization. The first contains the structure as of yesterday. The second is one that being presented to CIRM directors today. 

Old CIRM Structure Above

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