San Francisco, CA — California’s stem cell institute should follow the lead of Connecticut and make public key information in its grants approval process now shrouded in secrecy, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.
John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem Cell Project director, called for the change at the brief public session of the Grants Review Working Group before the panel retreated into a closed-door, three-day session to review the first 232 applications for research grants.
“California’s stem cell institute will tell you that they epitomize a transparent and publicly accountable operation, but it’s simply not true,” said Simpson. “In fact they won’t even tell you who applied for public money or with whom they are affiliated.”
FTCR contrasted California’s policy, where only grant recipients are identified, to Connecticut’s process that discloses all applicants identities and affiliations and other key information. Last week its Stem Cell Advisory Committee awarded $20 million in research grants. There were 21 grants awarded from a pool of 70 applications.
The grants were discussed and awarded at a public meeting where applicants were identified by name. A proposed project’s scientific score was listed along with comments from peer reviewers. Applications for grants are public records when they are made, except that proprietary information can be redacted.
“California’s stem cell overseers talk about transparency and public accountability,” said Simpson. “Connecticut’s leaders don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. We should be ashamed of ourselves.”
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Our stem cell information page is located at: http://www.stemcellwatch.org.