Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CIRM Directors Move Forward on Selection of New Chairman

A key committee of the directors of the California stem cell agency tonight moved to take a fresh look at the selection of a new chairman of the $3 billion organization and to conduct a self-evaluation of the board itself.

The proposal now goes to the full board of directors at their meeting in Burlingame tomorrow.

The Governance committee also agreed with a request made one year ago by the state Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee that CIRM post the economic interest statements of its directors and top executives on the CIRM web site, said Don Gibbons, the agency's chief communications officer. The CIRM directors panel also agreed to post expense claims from directors and executives. The oversight committee is charged with examining CIRM's finances.

Gibbons said in an email that the new look at the selection of a new chairman was approved unanimously after a brief discussion. Gibbons said that directors also accepted a suggestion by CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, who says he is leaving in June, that directors be surveyed on whether they "should or should not get involved in financial details."

The proposal to develop a criteria for a chairman plus the self-assessment survey was offered by Claire Pomeroy, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine and a member of the CIRM board. In an email to directors, she said her recommendations would help to "to ensure an open process free of conflict of interest and personal agendas." She said,
"This is our chance to emphasize the mission over in-fighting and can define what kind of organization CIRM and the board will be."
Sherry Lansing, chair of the Governance committee and former Hollywood film studio chief, asked that the survey be completed in two weeks, according to Gibbons.

He said that the committee also approved a suggestion by Lansing concerning an additional aspect of the selection process. Gibbons said that it would create "a process in which if (a board member) finds someone that looks like an interesting candidate they can call one other member of the (Governance committee) and meet with that individual and report back to the committee in a public meeting on the potential candidate’s qualifications."

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