Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Klein Donation: Text of Stem Cell Agency's Key Responses

Here is the text of the key comments from the California stem cell agency in response to questions from the California Stem Cell Report (CSCR) concerning the $21,630 contribution by Robert Klein. Here is a link to the full story on the matter.

“Is CIRM concerned about the appearance created by the donation from Bob Klein to enable scientific staff to attend the ISSCR meeting in Yokohoma, coming one month after the GWG (the review group) rejected StemCells Inc's Alzheimer's application and one month before the July Board meeting that led to the approval of the award?”(Editor's note: It was actually two months before the board meeting.)
CIRM's response:
“No, the two items are entirely separate with no connection. Item 1  involved Bob Klein making a donation to allow science officers to attend a critically important scientific meeting on stem cell research.  The science officers  had originally planned on attending but then were told they could not because of cuts in our out-of-state travel budget – Bob Klein’s donation, without using state funds, enabled the science officers to attend.  Item 2 is an ICOC decision to fund a research project that they felt had promise and was important for the people of California.”

"Please explain why the agency could not finance the trip itself ."

CIRM's response:
"During the financial year 2011/12  the Governor's Office issued an Executive Order requiring state agencies, under the Governor's direct authority, to reduce out-of-state travel.  Although CIRM was not required to participate, we nevertheless imposed restrictions on out-of-state travel to meet the intent/spirit of the Governor's request.  Accordingly, we made a decision to reduce the number of our science staff who would be attending the  conference.  Bob Klein's donation made it possible for those staff to go." 

CSCR asked several questions re the failure to report the Klein donation to the board as required by agency rules.

CIRM's response:
“Under the Gift Policy, the President had the authority to accept Mr. Klein’s generous offer as a 'Direct payment or reimbursement by third parties for the costs of general operation or grant management administrative activities.' (Gift Policy, Sec. III(A)(2).)  Because CIRM receives gifts only infrequently, CIRM staff determined that it would be more efficient to report gifts to the Board on a semi-annual basis.  Mr. Klein’s donation was the first gift CIRM had received in some years.  Due to the lack of additional donations, a transition in CIRM’s finance office, and an oversight, CIRM staff has not yet presented a report including Mr. Klein’s gift.  Staff plans to report Mr. Klein’s gift as part of the finance report at the May Board meeting.  Because the President had the authority to accept the gift pursuant to section III(A)(2) of the Gift Policy, it did not require a commitment letter.  (See Gift Policy, Sec. III(C)(1) ['A Commitment Letter is not required for gifts described under III.A.2., 3. and 4.'].)  However, consistent with the policy, Dr. Trounson sent Mr. Klein a letter of appreciation, a copy of which we have already provided you.”

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