Thursday, January 29, 2009

CIRM Finance Documents Surface Online

With only a few hours left before this afternoon's meeting of the board of the California stem cell agency, it has posted some figures on its website dealing with its current financial condition.

Missing is any kind of explanatory information about the significance of the numbers, definitions and assumptions used. None of the posted documents address the question of when the agency runs out of operational funds during the next 18 months if the state budget crisis continues. Nor do any address the question of when CIRM might run out of cash to pay grants already approved.

However, the three documents appear to show that CIRM's operating expenditures for the 2008-2009 fiscal year will be 22 percent, or $3 million, under budget, $10.4 million instead of $13.4 million. Much of the difference comes from a 20 percent variation ($1.4 million) in salaries and benefits, which are projected to hit $5.6 million, instead of the budgeted $7 million.

Some CIRM board members have expressed concern that the agency is under-staffed and that employees could suffer from burn-out because of their long hours. Indeed, the most recent audit of the agency shows $247,351 in outstanding unpaid vacation and annual leave as of last July. The agency is capped by law at 50 employees, which is one of the reasons for its large, $2.7 million outside contracts budget. Currently the agency has 38 staffers, the highest figure in its history. It has had openings for six hires for many months but has not filled the positions.

Other major budget categories projected to be under budget for the fiscal year include: outside contracts, $2.2 million, down $514,000 or 19 percent from projections; "other travel," down $206,000 or 37 percent from projections, and "other," down $276,000 or 31 percent.

The CIRM grant funding summary shows $703 million approved by the CIRM board by the end of the fiscal year, with $139 million actually out the door. No projections are made beyond June 30.

Not posted to the CIRM website is the latest audit of the agency by Macias Gini &O'Connell of Sacramento, Ca,, which is the firm that CIRM pays for annual audits. The audit covers the 2007-08 fiscal year and can be found on the state controllers website.

Here are links to the other two CIRM documents: actual and projected expenditures, budget allocation and expenditures.

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