The NZAS submission on the MoRST sector enagagement paper "A more stable funding environment" and an overview of the engagement process and proposed funding system are now available online.
Response to MoRST's sector engagement paper "A more stable funding environment"
The sector engagement process
In December 2005 MoRST released a confidential Sector Engagement paper "A More Stable Funding Environment" to key stakeholders for discussion and feedback. This paper, one of a set of related papers outlining MoRST's present thinking on the future of New Zealand's science system, was based on prior sector commentaries and "think pieces" provided by a number of stakeholders. Its purpose was to articulate a range of ideas that may lead to more stable, longer term research funding than is accommodated within the present system.
MoRST's paper proposes a package of improvements to the current research funding system, involving increases to core institutional investment, non-contestable investment in "backbone" science (including essential infrastructure, databases and collections), negotiated long term investment for research deemed to be of long term potential and of national and sectoral importance, and improvements to the existing contestable funding processes (including reduced complexity, lower transaction costs and increased importance of science excellence and track record).
NZAS was one of the group of stakeholders to receive the paper and provide feedback. On 8 February NZAS Council members Hamish Campbell, David Lillis, Janet Grieve and Mike Berridge met with several senior MoRST staff to discuss particular aspects of the funding system proposed within the paper and to identify issues not addressed sufficiently within the paper. At this meeting NZAS articulated a range of concerns, including the following:
1. the need for high level priority setting and strategy development
2. the objectives of CRIs, the roles of CRI boards and the need for structural changes to the CRIs
3. the need for greater scientist input, both in high level priority setting, and at the level of organizational governance.
Following this meeting, NZAS drafted a submission (see link to text below), delineated according to 13 specific questions posed by MoRST within the Sector Engagement paper. NZAS submission was passed to MoRST by the due deadline (13 February).
During February of this year MoRST intends to collate all submissions and feedback on its paper, brief the Minister of Research, Science and Technology (Steve Maharey) on these submissions, consider the Minister's views and prepare a Cabinet paper in early April. On the basis of Cabinet's response to MoRST's Cabinet paper, instructions will be issued to the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology to implement any agreed changes to the present funding system in time for the 2006/07 purchase and bidding rounds. MoRST has given an undertaking that the feedback of NZAS and other stakeholders will be considered, and key elements incorporated into the forthcoming Cabinet paper.
* the NZAS submission to the Sector Engagement Paper