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Controller’s Financial Oversight Committee Urges Stem Cell Institute to Further Improve Transparency

Contact: Hallye Jordan

LOS ANGELES – The committee charged with reviewing the financial practices of the State’s $6 billion publicly-funded stem cell program today urged the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to take steps to further improve transparency and accountability.

Chaired by State Controller John Chiang, the Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee (CFAOC) unanimously voted to endorse recommendations of the Little Hoover Commission to make the institute’s financial practices and performance more open to the public.

“Californians overwhelmingly voted in 2004 to provide billions of public dollars to find cures for chronic, debilitating and deadly diseases that affect millions of Americans each year,” Chiang said. “To ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent lawfully, wisely and successfully, the stem cell program must pursue the highest standards of transparency to be fully accountable to the public.”

The committee approved the state watchdog agency’s recommendations encouraging the Legislature and CIRM to improve efficiency and transparency in the way grants and loans are distributed, make future business practices more open, and use the authority of the CIRM governing board and the CFAOC to enhance oversight of the stem cell program.

Voting for the recommendations were Chiang, Dr. Daniel Hollander, Dr. Loren Lipson, Dr. Gurbinder Sadana and Jim Lott. Daniel Brunner was absent.

In other action, the CFAOC approved posting its members’ statements of economic interest and travel expenses on both the State Controller’s and CIRM’s Web sites, and urging CIRM governing board members and staff to post the same information on the CIRM Web site.