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Chief scientist chairs research investment committee

Australia's chief scientist will head a committee to guide Australian government research investment, it was announced on 3 November.

The move comes as a result of the recent completion of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research’s “Focusing Australia’s Publicly Funded Research” review.

The review, undertaken between February and July 2011, examined the nature and utility of Australia’s publicly funded research arrangements.

The review looked at: the roles of publicly funded research agencies and possible overlap with each other and other sectors; the appropriateness of the current level and balance of public research funding; the utility of current public funding arrangements, including the role of the National Research Priorities (NRPs); the value of a long-term strategy to provide collaborative research infrastructure; the development of performance measures to evaluate publicly funded research programmes.

“The government has accepted four major recommendations from the review that will strengthen our national innovation system,” said Kim Carr, the innovation minister.

To facilitate implementation of the recommendations, Ian Chubb, Australia’s chief scientist, will chair a federal committee providing the government with integrated and strategic advice on research investments.

The initial task of the committee will be to develop a national research investment plan.

Carr has also said that his department will consult stakeholders about updating and refining the NRPs.

According to a government news release, this could include a new NRP to reflect the contribution of the humanities, arts and social sciences to Australian research.

The government will also undertake a feasibility study on approaches to the development of a mechanism for evaluating the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of research.