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NC3Rs joins shared services centre, despite NAO warning

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research is transferring its grants to the Research Council UK’s Shared Services Centre, the organisation announced on 26 October.

From 2012, project and pilot study NC3R grants will be managed through RCUK’s joint-electronic submission system. Studentships, David Sainsbury Fellowships and Strategic Awards will also transfer to Je-S during 2012, it said. Final reports will now be requested via the same system.

The announcement followed a report by the National Audit Office which last week advised the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to be cautious in transferring more of its operations to the SSC.

“Expanding client numbers without stabilising the service and adequately addressing the cultural change needed among the new clients would carry significant risks. Before sanctioning transfers, the department will need to assure itself that there is stability, that its plans are realistic and that the transfer is value for money,” said the report.

The SSC has been dogged by problems since was it was established, with the aim of harmonising research council back-office functions.

The report concluded that the centre, which was delivered 15 months late, still did not represent value for money and was, as of March, £73.2 million short of the savings it was predicted to achieve.

A statement by RCUK acknowledged some of the issues and said they were being resolved.

NC3R asked for patience during the transfer to the centre.

“Our aim is to ensure a seamless transition into the new system, ensuring that researchers continue to receive the highest quality service from the NC3Rs; however we hope you appreciate that transition periods can be difficult and ask all our stakeholders to bear with us during this process,” said the organisation in a statement.

Since its inception in 2004, NC3Rs has given out around £20m in grants, funded by UK research councils, the Home Office, and various charities and companies.