Stem Cell Research: Strengthening Governance to Further the Voter's Mandate

Report #198, June 2009
Stem Cell Research: Strengthening Governance to Further the Voter's Mandate

Full Report

Executive Summary

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2009

For Additional Information Contact:
Stuart Drown, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

Commission Calls on State to Strengthen Stem Cell Board

The Little Hoover Commission on Thursday urged the governor and the Legislature to reform the governance structure of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to improve transparency and accountability and speed its success in finding cures through stem cell research.

In its report, Stem Cell Research: Strengthening Governance to Further the Voters’ Mandate, the Commission recommends streamlining the governance structure of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and reducing the size of its governing board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC). Recommendations include clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the board chair and the agency president and introducing fresh voices to the board by adding independent business and scientific members. The Commission also recommends reducing the length of terms for board members, removing caps on the size of CIRM’s staff and outside scientific peer reviewers and developing plans for the agency’s future.

During its study, the Commission found that CIRM has delivered on its mission to grow the state’s biotechnology industry, producing new jobs, expanded scientific facilities and cutting-edge research. The agency has been resourceful in leveraging its public resources to attract additional outside investment. Despite these successes, the Commission found that the agency remains vulnerable to perceptions of self-interest that detract from CIRM’s $3 billion mission of finding cures through stem cell research.

The Commission found that the statutory language created by Proposition 71 in 2004 is overly prescriptive, resulting in a governance structure for CIRM that locks in inefficiencies. While many of the original governance provisions may have been appropriate to protect a developing organization when stem cell science was under siege, the specificity of the requirements in Proposition 71 now inhibits CIRM’s ability to adjust to changing scientific and political landscapes. The Commission found that improvements to CIRM’s governance structure are needed to allow CIRM to move forward with the transparency and accountability Californians deserve.

“To fulfill its ambitious mission, CIRM needs every advantage to move forward with efficiency and integrity,” Commissioner Loren Kaye, who chaired the study’s subcommittee, said. “The ICOC has functioned as well as it has because of the talent and extraordinary commitment of its members. But the stakes are too high to take structural weaknesses for granted.”

In Stem Cell Research: Strengthening Governance to Further the Voters’ Mandate, the Commission recommends that the state:

  • Restructure the CIRM governing board around principles of efficiency and transparency. The board size should be reduced to 15 from 29, maintaining the diversity of membership but adding independent voices to the board. Board terms should be shortened to four years for all members and the appointment process should be streamlined. To eliminate overlapping authority and enhance accountability, the roles of chair and president should be restructured and clarified. To minimize disruption that can occur through turnover and changes in the governance structure, new board members should be phased in as terms expire. The ICOC name also should be changed to the Board of Directors to more accurately reflect its composition.
     
  • Improve the process for distributing grant and loan funds. To enhance efficiency and transparency, the 50-employee cap on staffing should be removed, as should the 15-person limit on peer reviewers. CIRM should modify its triage plan to review grants internally. CIRM also should explore options for greater disclosure of the peer review process and amend all meeting minutes to specify individual board members’ votes and recusals, and continue the practice moving forward.
     
  • Enhance oversight of CIRM. The Citizens Financial Accountability Oversight Committee (CFAOC) and the CIRM governing board should use their authority to enhance oversight. The CFAOC, chaired by the State Controller, should exercise its existing authority, or be statutorily authorized if necessary, to conduct performance audits and hold regular meetings to review CIRM’s programmatic and strategic performance, in addition to overseeing CIRM’s annual financial audits. The CIRM governing board should hold its members accountable by adopting removal provisions in its bylaws.
     
  • Require the CIRM governing board to begin planning for CIRM’s future. To prepare for change in leadership, the CIRM governing board should create succession plans for board leadership through an open process. The agency should include in its strategic plan clear direction for spending funds, with measurable benchmarks and a transition plan for when bond funding expires.
     

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are sent to the governor and the Legislature. To obtain a copy of the report, Stem Cell Research: Strengthening Governance to Further the Voters’ Mandate, contact the Commission or visit its Web site: www.lhc.ca.gov.

Fact Sheet

Study Description

For this study, the Commission reviewed the governance of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created in 2004 by Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. 

The ballot measure added to the State Constitution the authority to raise and spend $3 billion through bond sales ($6 billion in total taxpayer outlay) for basic stem cell research, with a focus on embryonic stem cell research, as well as to establish the human and physical capital to do this research.

As part of its study, the Commission explored the transparency and accountability of the existing governance structure.

This review was requested by Senators Kuehl and Runner in an April 28, 2008, request letter to the Commission.

Agenda

Overview

In this report, the Commission calls on the state to strengthen the stem cell board. The Commission urges the state to reform the governance structure of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to improve transparency and accountability and speed its success in finding cures through stem cell research.

During its review, the Commission found that despite its work toward finding cures through stem cell research grants, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s governing board is vulnerable to perceptions of self-interest and lacks a plan for leadership beyond today’s board structure.

The Commission recommends changes to its board makeup, oversight and processes for more efficiency and transparency.

This review was requested by Senators Kuehl and Runner in an April 28, 2008, request letter to the Commission.

Print 
			Agenda
  • May 27
    2009
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    3:30 p.m., Library and Courts II building, Room 340, Sacramento, CA
    Subcommittee Meeting
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 14, 2009

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Subcommittee of the Little Hoover Commission will meet on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 340 of the Library and Courts II building located at 900 N Street in Sacramento, CA. The subcommittee will discuss the Commission’s potential recommendations.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

  • December 9
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    Irvine, CA
    Site Visit
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 26, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The Little Hoover Commission has been invited to observe the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Irvine, California on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 9th and 10th, 2008.

    For more information regarding the meeting, go to www.cirm.ca.gov/meetings.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site: www.lhc.ca.gov.

  • November 20
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    2:30 p.m., State Capitol, Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
    Subcommittee Meeting
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 10, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The California Stem Cell Governance Subcommittee of the Little Hoover Commission will meet on Thursday, November 20, 2008, at 2:30 p.m. or immediately following the Commission’s business meeting in Room 4203 of the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA. The subcommittee will discuss a work plan.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, November 13, 2008.

  • November 20
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    9:00 a.m., State Capitol, Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine 
    Thursday, November 20, 2008, at 9:00 a.m. 
    State Capitol, Room 4203 
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    Academic Perspective: Creating Good Governance

    1. Michael Klausner, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Ken Taymor, Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (Written Testimony)
       

    Consumer Perspective: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability

    1. John Simpson, Director, Stem Cell Oversight and Accountability Project, Consumer Watchdog (Written Testimony, Attachment)
       
    2. Jesse Reynolds, Director, Project on Biotechnology in the Public Interest, Center for Genetics and Society (Written Testimony, Attachment)
       

    Institution Perspective: Achieving the Goals of Proposition 71

    1. Susan V. Bryant, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California, Irvine, and member, Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Ralph O'Rear, Vice President, Facilities and Planning, Buck Institute for Age Research (Written Testimony)


    Agency Perspective: Managing California's Investment

    1. Robert Klein, Chairperson, Independent Citizens Oversight Committe (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Alan Trounson, President, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Written Testimony)
      Additional material submitted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Part 1Part 2Part 3)
      ​​​​​​​

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 6, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    On Thursday, November 20, 2008, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 4203 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    This is the first of two planned hearings the Commission has scheduled to assess the state’s stem cell agency. This study was prompted by the request of Senators Sheila Kuehl and George Runner, who in April 2008 asked the Commission to review the governance structure of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, including the membership of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) and the relative roles of the committee and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). A complete agenda is on the reverse.

    At this hearing, the Commission will hear testimony from a panel of law professors who will discuss the governance of the state’s stem cell agency and from a panel of consumer advocates who will speak about transparency and accountability. The Commission also will hear from a panel of representatives from institutions who have applied for and received grant money from CIRM who will discuss the approval process and how their organizations are using the money. Finally the chair of the ICOC and the president of CIRM will discuss their organizations’ efforts in managing the state’s investment in stem cell research.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. A business meeting will follow the hearing. 

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, November 13, 2008.

Print 
		Agenda
  • May 27
    2009
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    3:30 p.m., Library and Courts II building, Room 340, Sacramento, CA
    Subcommittee Meeting
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 14, 2009

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Subcommittee of the Little Hoover Commission will meet on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 340 of the Library and Courts II building located at 900 N Street in Sacramento, CA. The subcommittee will discuss the Commission’s potential recommendations.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

  • December 9
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    Irvine, CA
    Site Visit
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 26, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The Little Hoover Commission has been invited to observe the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Irvine, California on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 9th and 10th, 2008.

    For more information regarding the meeting, go to www.cirm.ca.gov/meetings.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site: www.lhc.ca.gov.

  • November 20
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    2:30 p.m., State Capitol, Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
    Subcommittee Meeting
    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 10, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    The California Stem Cell Governance Subcommittee of the Little Hoover Commission will meet on Thursday, November 20, 2008, at 2:30 p.m. or immediately following the Commission’s business meeting in Room 4203 of the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA. The subcommittee will discuss a work plan.

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, November 13, 2008.

  • November 20
    2008
    California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    9:00 a.m., State Capitol, Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
    Public Hearing
    Agenda

    AGENDA

    Public Hearing on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine 
    Thursday, November 20, 2008, at 9:00 a.m. 
    State Capitol, Room 4203 
    Sacramento, CA


    Opening Remarks

    Academic Perspective: Creating Good Governance

    1. Michael Klausner, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Ken Taymor, Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (Written Testimony)
       

    Consumer Perspective: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability

    1. John Simpson, Director, Stem Cell Oversight and Accountability Project, Consumer Watchdog (Written Testimony, Attachment)
       
    2. Jesse Reynolds, Director, Project on Biotechnology in the Public Interest, Center for Genetics and Society (Written Testimony, Attachment)
       

    Institution Perspective: Achieving the Goals of Proposition 71

    1. Susan V. Bryant, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California, Irvine, and member, Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Ralph O'Rear, Vice President, Facilities and Planning, Buck Institute for Age Research (Written Testimony)


    Agency Perspective: Managing California's Investment

    1. Robert Klein, Chairperson, Independent Citizens Oversight Committe (Written Testimony)
       
    2. Alan Trounson, President, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Written Testimony)
      Additional material submitted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Part 1Part 2Part 3)
      ​​​​​​​

    Comments Submitted by Members of the Public

    Public Notice

    PUBLIC NOTICE

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 6, 2008

    For Additional Information Contact:
    Stuart Drown, Executive Director
    (916) 445-2125

    Notice of Meeting

    On Thursday, November 20, 2008, the Little Hoover Commission will conduct a public hearing on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 4203 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    This is the first of two planned hearings the Commission has scheduled to assess the state’s stem cell agency. This study was prompted by the request of Senators Sheila Kuehl and George Runner, who in April 2008 asked the Commission to review the governance structure of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, including the membership of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) and the relative roles of the committee and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). A complete agenda is on the reverse.

    At this hearing, the Commission will hear testimony from a panel of law professors who will discuss the governance of the state’s stem cell agency and from a panel of consumer advocates who will speak about transparency and accountability. The Commission also will hear from a panel of representatives from institutions who have applied for and received grant money from CIRM who will discuss the approval process and how their organizations are using the money. Finally the chair of the ICOC and the president of CIRM will discuss their organizations’ efforts in managing the state’s investment in stem cell research.

    There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the hearing. The Commission also encourages written comments. A business meeting will follow the hearing. 

    All public notices for meetings are on the Commission’s Web site, www.lhc.ca.gov. If you need reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact Stuart Drown at (916) 445-2125 or littlehoover@lhc.ca.gov by Thursday, November 13, 2008.