Monday, December 04, 2006

CIRM Moves to Clean Up Audit Issues

The performance audit requested by former Sen. Deborah Ortiz is already having an impact on the the California stem cell agency.

On Monday, CIRM's Governance Subcommittee approved a number of changes in its policies that seemed to be needed as a result of the state auditor's work. The full audit is not expected to be officially released until March.

The changes deal with contracting, travel and other policies.

Dale Carlson, chief communications officer for CIRM, told the California Stem Cell Report:
"We decided to address issues raised in (the audit) process to date, rather than wait for the final report. Our objective is to run a tight ship. If we can eliminate ambiguities, we'd prefer to do so sooner, not later. The problems are relatively minor, evidence of an agency that is young and new to the detailed requirements of travel and contracts applied to established government entities. Better to uphold the highest possible performance standards now, before signficant resources are placed in our trust. We want to be a model agency."
We can also say that it is good PR as well as good management to take care of this kind of stuff before it winds up as a bone of contention in a critical audit.

CIRM is heavily dependent on outside contractors because of its small staff. These changes seem appropriate but still allow considerable leeway in letting contracts without bids. While the bidding process does not guarantee good value, negotiated contracts can also lead to abuses. How all this shakes out will depend on the skills of CIRM staffers in dealing with outside contractors, which can be a real art.

Here are links to the proposed new policies which were approved unanimously and sent along to the Oversight Committee for action later this week. Travel.

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