CSIRO Funding to Face Scrutiny
The CSIRO, Australia’s peak scientific body, is expected to face more scrutiny as the Government tries to slash spending to return the budget to surplus. Whilst the Gillard government has not specifically stated that funding to the organisation will be cut, it is almost assured that the pool from which scientific organisations compete for funds will be shrunk.
The trend is is being followed worldwide and has come about by the need for austerity in the increasingly uncertain world economy. Up until now, the funding of new science and research initiatives has withstood the pressures of fiscal restraint and has helped make Australia one of the world’s leading suppliers of new technologies. One of the discoveries that has reaped the Government a fortune in royalties is the discovery of the technology that the world’s WiFii is built on. That technology alone has earned the Government hundreds of millions of dollars.
It is expected that whilst operational funding to the CSIRO will not be cut, the discretionary awarding of grants will be more heavily scrutinized by bureaucrats which will likely lower overall funding to the organisation. Whilst scientists will inevitably complain that research direction could become corrupted by the commercialization of grant requests, there will still be a large pool of funds for the CSIRO and other leading research bodies to draw from. The Government’s aim is to merely put the pressure on those bestowed with Government grants to be careful with their spending.
As much as the funding of scientific research is a key component of Australia’s future economy, the reality is that the fiscal belt tightening will affect everyone, no matter how noble their cause.