CSIRO funding and science integrity on the agenda for Consultative Council

Funding for CSIRO research in the coming financial year and mounting challenges to science integrity will feature in discussions at CSIRO Consultative Council, scheduled for the third week of June.

Traditionally held biannually, meetings of the Consultative Council provide a formal opportunity for representatives of CSIRO management and staff to discuss a range of issues relating to the operation and strategy of the organisation.

Established by the legislation that governs CSIRO – The Science and Industry Research Act – the functions of the Council ‘are to consider, and to report to the Board on, any matter affecting, or of general interest to, the officers of the Organisation, including any such matter that is referred to the Council by the Board.’

Staff Association Secretary Sam Popovski said that CSIRO funding and science integrity would form a key focus for discussion.

Funding challenges

“We want to ask the Executive Team about CSIRO science and programs in the coming year, including overall financial projections, external revenue, and the likely impact of the additional ‘efficiency dividend’ announced by the Government in the final days of the election campaign.

The Coalition stated it would impose 2 per cent annual efficiency dividends from departments for the next two years, easing to 1.5 per cent in mid-2021 and 1% the following year.

Forecast to cut $1.5 billion in funding over the forward estimates, CPSU predicts that at least 3,000 jobs will be lost from the federal public sector as a result.

Currently CSIRO – which receives around 60 per cent of funding directly from Government that would be subject to the efficiency dividend – is not one of the organisations or agencies subject to an exemption.

“The Staff Association is also seeking projections for overall and Business Unit staffing levels, including timeframes for consultation on any change programs; and science prioritisation and CSIRO Transformation Program,” Mr Popovski said.

Integrity issues

CSIRO research and scientific integrity would be discussed, Mr Popovski said.

“Adani, Impromy, the Murray Darling Basin; on all three occasions CSIRO’s been forced to make public statements defending the integrity of research. Staff are concerned that the organisation’s reputation as a trusted advisor is under question.

“We’ll be seeking answers from the Executive Team on what steps CSIRO is taking to ensure integrity – through to impact – with Government, business and community partners.

“The Staff Association will also encourage the roles CSIRO can play as part of a larger conversation about scientific integrity across federally funded public research agencies and government laboratories,” Mr Popovski said.

Have your say 

Do you have a topic suggestion for Consultative Council? Email csstaff@cpsu.org.au with you discussion ideas. All contributions are confidential.

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