30 Mar 2010

CRI boards to be more accountable under new system

8:13 am on 30 March 2010

Changes will be made to the membership of the boards of Crown Research Institutes as the Government moves to a new system of funding for the science sector.

The Government has picked up key recommendations of a taskforce report on CRIs released earlier in March.

They include clarifying the role and purpose of each CRI, providing a greater level of direct funding and requiring more accountability from their boards.

The Government says it plans to increase the percentage of long-term funding it gives CRIs from 20% to 40%. It will also negotiate a rate of return from the individual organisations instead of asking for a 9% return on investment.

Research Science and Technology Minister Wayne Mapp says membership of the boards will be looked at to ensure that they have the relevant experience to manage change.

Dr Mapp says the amount of money returned from CRIs to the Government is likely to be reduced also.

A representative for agricultural scientists says the Government needs to make sure it appoints board members to CRIs who understand what science can realistically achieve.

The president of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Jon Hickford, says while the taskforce recommended at least one eminent scientist be appointed to each board, he believes that number should be increased to at least four.