Friday, August 08, 2008

Major Information Remains Missing From CIRM Directors Agenda

With two business days remaining before next week's meeting of the directors of the California stem cell agency, still missing from its website is important information needed for intelligent public participation in major issues facing CIRM.

Missing background material includes a current draft of the proposed loan policy for a novel and risky $500 million biotech lending effort and the proposed procedures on how to deal with the sticky question of reconsideration of negative grant recommendations from CIRM reviewers. Also missing is some sort of discussion of what is meant by "recommendations on RFA applicant policies."

The directors are scheduled to give away $41 million in research grants, but no link is posted from the agenda to the public summaries of the reviews. However, those went up on Thursday and can be found here.

Hundreds of California researchers will be affected by the proposal for reconsideration of grant reviews. But for all practical purposes, none of them will have a say in the mysterious plan because there is not enough time for them to analyze the proposal – if it is ever posted – and to make travel plans to Stanford for the meeting that begins on Tuesday.

Dilatory posting of important background information is an ongoing problem at CIRM. The situation improved at one point in the past but has now slipped badly. It makes a mockery of CIRM promises for meaningful public participation in discussions of issues facing the $3 billion public agency.

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