Monday, June 22, 2015

The California Stem Cell Agency Wants Help in Charting New Directions

How to spend $800 million?
Friday deadline for comments

Want to tell the $3 billion California stem cell agency where to go? Here’s your chance.

The agency said today it wants to hear from you. It is open to suggestions, rude and otherwise. But it really wants to hear constructive comments and critiques.

“No one has a monopoly on good ideas,” said Randy Mills, president of the agency, in a statement that unveiled the enterprise’s most recent effort to elicit proposals and thoughts from the public.

What this is all about is revision of the agency’s strategic plan, which is an indirect way of asking the question of “how are we going to spend our last $800 million.”

The agency has mounted an online questionnaire with plenty of room for comments beyond the formal structure of the survey. Thirteen questions are posed. They include such matters as how much risk the agency should take and just how it should be measured. The agency wants to know whether the top three measurements should include such things as the number of scientific articles published or the number of patients treated. It wants to know whether you think the agency is sufficiently focused on its mission.

Time is short for persons who want to weigh in on the survey, which is designed to be answered anonymously. It must be completed by this Friday.

Jonathan Thomas, chairman of the agency board, noted that the effort is part of the agency’s responsibility to the public. He said,  
“We are a state agency. We were created by the people of California, and we answer to the people of California.”
 Mills said,
“That’s why we want to hear from a diverse group of people, scientists and non-scientists alike, to learn what they think about how we should best use our money, resources, and expertise to reach our goal. This new strategic plan will help create a clear vision for how we move forward, one that sets priorities and an actionable approach to accomplish our mission.” 

At the end of July the board is scheduled to hear what Mills has prepared up to that point on the strategic plan for the next five years or so, which is about how long the agency's current funding will last. 

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