Tuesday, June 08, 2010

CIRM Stiffs Public on Spending Plan

The California stem cell agency this week extended its practice of withholding important information from the public – this time in connection with its proposed budget for 2010-11.

In just two days, the directors' Finance Subcommittee will consider the agency's operational spending plans, but not one word is available to the public or other interested parties.

The move is in keeping with CIRM's de facto policy of withholding background information on the subjects of many of its meetings until just prior to the actual sessions. Sometimes the material is not posted until after the sessions and is not available to directors at the meetings.

At last year's budget meeting of the Finance Subcommitte, five CIRM directors publicly expressed displeasure at the lack of material made available to them concerning the budget. The situation was not much better at the full directors meeting later last June. The budget documents were woefully inadequate and were not responsive to questions raised earlier at the Finance Subcommittee meeting.

The budget failed to make meaningful year-to-year comparisons and came late to both directors and the public. And then CIRM Chairman Robert Klein – in a bit of financial flim-flam – described the spending plan as a three percent decrease, when it actually was a 25 percent increase. CIRM compounded that misrepresentation by enshrining it -- albeit with qualifiers -- in a press release.

An early version of Thursday's Finance Subcommittee agenda included consideration of “funding sources to cover budget requirements.” That topic has been removed from the budget with no explanation. We are querying CIRM concerning the matter.

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