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CPRIT Tries To Get Back To Work
The state's troubled cancer-fighting agency has found a small cure to its financial woes. In 2007 Texan's authorized $3 billion in bonds, creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. But last year state leaders froze the institutes grant money. The Travis County District Attorney opened an investigation and the state auditor criticized the institute, saying it had a major problem with accountability and transparency.
Now, some of that grant money has been restored -- enough to finalize some contracts for grants that had been awarded, but that's where the money stopped.
Lawmakers made it clear they still have control over the use of these public funds, making sure accountability remains intact.
The states embattled cancer center has been thrown a lifeline. For the first time in nearly four months state leaders gave the cancer prevention and research institute permission to finalize 25 researcher recruitment grants.
In a statement to KEYE TV the institute's executive director wrote, "We have worked hard to regain trust with our elected officials and the citizens of Texas. We take this action as evidence that some progress has been made."
Back in December lawmakers froze all grants awarded by CPRIT. And the Travis County District Attorney's Office opened an investigation into millions of dollars in mishandled grants.
"Of course it's important. There is billions of dollars at stake here and the public has a right to have the agency accountable for the money and has the right to have that trust in the agency," says Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
A letter Wednesday from the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the house stated, "This decision is not made without serious and thorough deliberation. We are still concerned about ensuring the accountability of CPRIT. We appreciate the work CPRIT is doing to restore confidence."
While the financial reprieve doesn't open up the flood gates, it allows CPRIT to get back to some type of business.
CPRIT is under new leadership. There is legislation working through the state house right now to restructure the leadership staff and create new compliance standards for grants, putting them through a stricter process.
By Adam Racusin