Commentary: Stem cell institute needs scrutiny

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

After three years and an expenditure of $600 million, the governance of California's stem cell research institute is starting to get the scrutiny it deserves from an independent panel.

On Thursday, the Little Hoover Commission held its first hearing into the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the quasi-public agency financed with $3 billion in bonds that voters approved in 2004.

The hearing revealed, once again, that this institute's 29-member governing board is rife with potential conflicts; that it is overly large and unwieldy; and that it awards multimillion-dollar grants in a manner that favors secrecy over accountability.

The most striking testimony came from Kenneth Taymor, executive director of the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy.

Taymor, who has been watching the institute's operations for three years, noted that nearly everyone on the institute's governing board – medical school deans, university officials – has some sort of financial interest in the grants being awarded.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.