Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CIRM Budget to Jump Nearly 50 Percent

The California stem cell agency has proposed a $13 million operating budget for its next fiscal year, up 46 percent from this year's spending plan.

The proposal's biggest increases are for salaries and benefits -- $6.7 million, up 39 percent – and external contracts – $2.7 million, up 50 percent. The agency is proposing to increase its staff from 37 to about 45. Prop. 71 caps staff size at 50.

The "other travel" category is scheduled to jump 287 percent, to $558,000. CIRM said the increase will allow the scientific staff to attend meetings that will enable CIRM "to have an integrated picture of state of the art and forward-looking research agendas."

The spending plan also seems to shift more responsibilities to CIRM Chairman Robert Klein. The document said,
"The proposed budget reflects the redirection of legal and communication staff and contracts, as appropriate, from the Office of the President to the Office of Administration and the Office of the Chair. It also reflects the creation of the new Office of the Vice-Chair/President which is focused on intellectual property issues."
No further explanation was offered.

The budget for the $3 billion agency will be taken up tomorrow at a meeting of the Finance Subcommittee of CIRM's board of directors. It will then go to the full board at its meeting June 26 and 27.

The budget presentation is lucid and reasonably complete but was posted yesterday, only two days before it is scheduled to be discussed publicly.

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