Monday, December 31, 2012


While it is imperative to stop the grant process in order to remove CPRIT leaders who have been embroiled in a succession of scandals from mismanagement, there is also the sense that a prolonged Moratorium may hurt this very important program.
The Moratorium is aimed at:
1. Stopping the cancer within CPRIT
2. Nominate new CPRIT leaders
3. To fully investigate what happened
4. To determine ways to improve on the experience at CPRIT
5. To formulate new legislation in order to boost policies and activities
6. To restart a new and improved CPRIT.

The cancer within CPRIT has been dealt a blow by the removal of CPRIT executives, and the rising sense at CPRIT that they cannot continue to do things the old ways.  More needs to be demonstrated and a full reevaluation of the CPRIT system is awaited by communities around Texas  (Particularly in El Paso which so far has received less than 0.5% of CPRIT grant allocations of the close to 1 billion dollars).

New interim leaders have been nominated. We applaud them for their courage to get involved.  We wish them well and only ask of them to broaden the foot print of CPRIT by reaching out to new cities, new companies, and new ventures to really make a difference in low income communities.  We wish to remind them that El Paso is under-served and here prevention and clinical research will have the highest reach and impact.  Inclusion of minority populations makes for a more meaningful research outcome.

Investigation into activities at CPRIT is two fold.  One involves the legislators who founded and framed CPRIT.  They have been outraged by questionable practices at CPRIT.  They are now investigating to see how new legislation brought to CPRIT may prevent the current undermining trends at CPRIT and how to build ways to protect against future abuses.   The second one is to review and ascertain the possibility that criminal conduct had occurred at CPRIT.  The District Attorney and relevant offices have opened necessary investigations.  These types of investigations could be exhaustive and lengthy!

With all this going on, a Moratorium on the grant allocation or distribution had to implemented while improving internal policies, implementing checks and balances, hiring needed people to replace the leaving, and putting in place mandates for the new legislation ( basically putting in place things the governor and the Lt Governor called for CPRIT to do prior to resumption of Grant allocation activities).

Despite this understanding, it is clear that if this moratorium is open ended and not further characterized, its toll may hurt CPRIT, businesses and communities waiting for CPRIT resurgence.   At CPRIT the morale may move from anxiety to numbness, the new leaders may lose their yearning to lead again, and new Business applicants already are in limbo!  Those who got funded continue their activities, but suffice is to say even they need a vibrant and alive CPRIT to monitor their progress.  The length of the moratorium cannot be linked to the criminal investigation which should not be rushed in order to be thorough.   Our legislators are busy.  It's good they complete this task before their attention is called elsewhere.   CPRIT has only 7 years to go.  Let's work in a timely fashion.  We believe in a time frame that may tell us how long we will wait.  CPRIT is too important in our lives in various ways.  Even if it is just the hope that it represents!
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