Thursday, October 31, 2013

Perry Gives CPRIT OK to Resume Work

In 2012, The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) came under allegations concerning some of their policies, procedures, and methods of awarding grants. This caused the Texas government, December 2012, to place a moratorium against any further grants while CPRIT was investigated.
"Saving Texans' lives in the fight against cancer is one of the most meaningful and impactful projects we have undertaken. To continue this important work with the credibility it deserves, it is vital that CPRIT fully address the concerns that have been raised about its processes and operations prior to future grants being awarded," the state leaders said in the letter. "The mission of defeating cancer is too important to be derailed by inadequate processes and a lack of oversight. It is important that we restore the confidence of the Texas taxpayers who approved this important initiative before new funds are dispersed."

CPRIT complied and assisted with a rather thorough investigation. In addition, several important and needed reforms were passed earlier this year during the Texas 83rd Legislative Session. CPRIT worked diligently to comply with the new regulations and oversight policies. These policies were contained in SB 149, which passed both houses and Gov. Perry signed into law on June 14th.

Here is an excerpt of some of those reforms:

            Senate Bill 149 revises annual reporting requirements regarding CPRIT's activities, grants awarded and in progress, research accomplishments, and future program directions and sets out recordkeeping and audit requirements relating to grant applications and grant awards.  The bill includes provisions relating to limiting supplementation of CPRIT employee salaries, but expressly prohibits CPRIT from supplementing the salary of the CEO, which can be paid only from legislative appropriations. The bill prohibits a CPRIT employee from having an office in a facility owned by an entity receiving or applying to receive money from CPRIT.
            Senate Bill 149 expands the applicability of conflict-of-interest rules adopted by the oversight committee to include the program integration committee, the research and prevention programs committees, and institute employees. The bill sets out provisions regarding prohibited professional and financial conflicts of interest for institute employees, oversight committee members, program integration members, or research and prevention programs committee members, or a person who is related to the employee or member within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity, and regarding the circumstances under which the conflict-of-interest requirements may be waived and the investigation and final determination of an unreported conflict of interest.

After almost a year, Governor Perry along with David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, announced the investigation has concluded. CPRIT has reformed some of their policies and procedures to comply with state and federal regulations. The trifecta announced on Oct. 30, 2013 that CPRIT may resume its grant operations.

CPRIT is a leading organization in the battle against cancer. Their grants have assisted patients and doctors in this battle. The resumption of the grants is key to continuing this fight against a global killer.

Governor Perry's remarks on the removal of the moratorium and CPRIT's resumed fight against cancer:

"With the new oversight committee and critical reforms in place, CPRIT can continue its lifesaving work with greater transparency, accountability and integrity. The research and prevention efforts supported by CPRIT have the potential to make a meaningful impact in the fight against cancer. As important as this work is, it must be done in a way that ensures the trust and confidence of the people of Texas."

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst added:

"CPRIT is crucial to our state's efforts to save lives and is now even better equipped to do so thanks to the reforms we have put into place. crafted by our legislators. With the impeccable peer review process and concentration on getting life-saving drugs to deserving patients, we can help save the lives of countless fellow Texans. I remain fully committed to CPRIT's mission and strongly support funding cures to this dreaded disease."

Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus, released the following remarks:

 "The reforms passed by the Legislature will make CPRIT more transparent and accountable to the public. The agency is now equipped to implement those reforms and move forward with the critical mission of fighting cancer. The Legislature will closely monitor CPRIT in order to ensure that the agency's mission is realized and taxpayer dollars are used properly."
CPRIT was created by public resolution and legislation in 2007 as an agency directed to join the front lines in the battle against cancer.