Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New CIRM Auditor Sought in Wake of Copying Flap

The California stem cell agency and its auditor have gone their separate ways, and CIRM is looking for a new, private auditor.

Gilbert Associates, a Sacramento company, conducted an audit for CIRM for the 2004-2005 year, but it generated some complaints when it declined to let the state controller's office copy some documents.

The California Stem Cell Report was told that CIRM and Gilbert severed their relationship by mutual agreement. The issue was the copying of some of Gilbert's working papers on CIRM, a non-negotiable matter for CIRM. Gilbert said at the time the material was proprietary and would not allow copying.

Asked for comment by the California Stem Cell Report, Thomas M. Gilbert, managing shareholder of the accounting firm, referred us to the controller's review of the audit, page 8, which says that his firm would not allow the controller's office to copy working papers it considered proprietary unless the controller's office signed a confidentiality agreement. The controller's office recommended that CIRM "address" the issue.

The bid proposal stipulates that the new auditor "agrees that the state controller’s office shall have the right to review and copy any records and supporting documentation pertaining to the performance of this agreement including, but not limited to, all documents, records and workpapers whether obtained or copied from the institute or developed by the contractor."

It also says the successful bidder must have completed three audits of state agencies in the last five years, preferably ones engaged in bond financing.

Gilbert was slated to work for CIRM through June 30, 2007, under a negotiated, $45,000 contract that was not put out to public bid. The latest contract is being let through the Department of General Services, one of the few occasions that CIRM has used the state's formal public bidding process for its roughly $5 million in outside contracts.

The CIRM contract timeline calls for submission of bids by Sept. 18 with the contract awarded by Sept. 22.

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