SENATOR NELSON FILES LEGISLATION ADDRESSING CPRIT GOVERNANCE

December 19, 2012

Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, pre-filed SB 149 in response to serious breakdowns in the grant process at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). SB 149 strengthens the governance to ensure that grants are approved with the highest degree of ethics and accountability.

SB 149:

  • Requires CPRIT to create a Compliance Program and hire a Compliance Officer to ensure laws and rules are followed;
  • Codifies CPRIT rules strengthening protections against conflict of interests for employees, Oversight Committee Members, and peer reviewers;
  • Prohibits CPRIT employees from having offices located with entities receiving or applying to receive CPRIT funds; and
  • Requires the Oversight Committee to annually set priorities for each grant program and types of research.

"I still believe in the mission to find cures and treatments for this terrible disease, which directly and indirectly impacts millions of Texans," said Senator Nelson. "For CPRIT to succeed, the public must have faith that it is operating in a fair, transparent manner and in compliance with the rules and laws we put in place to ensure accountability. This legislation represents a first step in what will be a long process this session to right the ship."

Currently, CPRIT Foundation donors are prohibited from receiving CPRIT grants. Senator Nelson is developing further legislation to improve the process of ensuring this prohibition is upheld. While CPRIT and the Foundation could improve this process without statutory changes, in light of recent developments, Senator Nelson believes more formal direction is necessary.

Senator Nelson also filed SB 150 which allows royalties, license fees, investment interest, gifts and grants collected by CPRIT to be used to pay for debt service on CPRIT bonds.

"As our investment begins to yield royalties and other proceeds, we should make sure that this revenue is used to offset costs and eventually put CPRIT on a path toward self-sustainability," said Senator Nelson.