Stem cell agency tries to remove cap on size of staff

May 14, 2010

A lot of people have forgotten about California’s stem cell research agency, which is spending billions of public dollars with little scrutiny. But blogger David Jensen is one person who is keeping a close eye on the place. Here is his latest dispatch, on efforts by the agency to get the right to hire more employees:

With less than two weeks remaining before a key deadline, directors of the California stem cell agency have cancelled a meeting on legislation to remove the 50-person cap on its staff, and no additional sessions have yet been scheduled.

In response to a query, CIRM Vice Chairman Art Torres told the California
Stem Cell Report that a final agreement had not yet been reached on the terms of the legislation by state Sen. Elaine Kontominas Alquist, D-San Jose. He hopes to reach a compromise that CIRM directors could support.

The bill, SB 1064, must clear the Senate by May 27 if it is to be enacted this year. CIRM is eager to remove the staff cap and has warned that the quality of its work is likely to suffer without more employees. The agency has approved more than $1 billion in grants and loans to more than 300 researchers. Another $2 billion or more is scheduled to handed out over the next four years or so.

As Alquist’s bill now stands, it contains provisions that the agency has vigorously opposed. The legislation is aimed at ensuring that taxpayer-financed therapies are affordable and accessible. It would also reform management and accountability provisions at CIRM with the intention of creating more transparency and openness.

Check his site, the California Stem Cell Report, for more.

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