Interim Head Of KBA Concerned About NBAF, Investments
The interim CEO of the troubled Kansas Bioscience Authority says the KBA will cooperate completely with the Governor's office in it's request for an independent audit. The Kan. legislature has been holding hearings in recent weeks.
The hearings have raised questions about spending and the allocation of $581 million in taxpayer money. Former KBA CEO Tom Thornton resigned last week amid the controversies.
The conflict, however, is sending the wrong message, according to the new head of the KBA.
David Vranicar, formerly president of the KBA's Heartland Bio Ventures, worries the public debate could jeopardize future funding for both the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility, or NBAF, and private investment.
"If the state of Kansas appears to be totally un-unified , now that would be a serious shortcoming, I think," he said.
Vranicar says an outside auditor will examine its records.
But Sherriene Jones-Sontag, spokesman for Kan. Gov. Brownback, says the governor wants a team of observers from his Department of Agriculture to oversee the audit, as well as a separate investigation by the Kansas Attorney General. She says the governor wants an audit with no ties to the KBA to avoid the possibility of conflict of interest.
"The important part here is to make sure taxpayer funds are being used appropriately," Jones-Sontag said.
David Vranicar says the KBA needs to protect patents and confidentiality agreements from its investors. The governor's office has made no further statements about what the next steps will be.