One notes that the "be like Mike" philosophy is accurate, if not effective. Nature (online, 23 Jan 08), in an article titled NIH in the dark over conflicts of interest observes:
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) relies on an honour system that leaves it unaware of the details of situations in which its external grantees have financial conflicts of interest, according to a report released on 17 January.
The report, from the inspector-general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that nearly half of the NIH's 24 grant-making institutes and centres were unable to provide any of the financial disclosure reports they received from external institutions between 2004 and 2006. Of the 438 reports that were produced, 89% were devoid of details describing the conflicts or how they were being managed.
Such details are not required under current rules; the report recommended that this change. But the NIH disputed that advice, saying that if it agreed to accept detailed reports, it would be held accountable for oversight duties that are properly the job of grantees' institutions.
Let's focus on the line: if it agreed to accept detailed reports, it would be held accountable for oversight duties which might be viewed as "if the NIH knew about the problems, someone might think the NIH should do something about the problems."
In Zipped Lips and CIRM's $263 Million, californiastemcellreport notes:
But only about one out of three of the directors will be able to vote on or even discuss some of the key issues in what is the largest round of grants ever made by CIRM.
The reason? They are associated with institutions that are seeking big chunks of the $263 million jackpot. In many cases they have conflicts of interests that CIRM's attorneys say make it illegal for them to vote or even participate in debate.
Conflicts of interest. Prop 71. NIH
Edward Penhoet: only 1 in 200 NIH grants results in intellectual property