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Out of control costs raise questions about National Science Challenges

Amid strong criticism of the value of the National Science Challenges from some of the country’s senior scientists, new figures show administrative costs are skyrocketing while the level of investment in actual science remains a mystery, says Labour’s Innovation, Research and Development spokesperson Megan Woods. 

“Figures released to Labour show that since the National Science Challenges were announced, $3m has been spent by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment administering them, including $1.2 promoting them, while some participating government entities have spent over $200,000 each just to prepare proposals.”

 

“It’s not surprising to hear the country’s best scientists warning the government’s new flagship funding programme for science could be a total disaster when so much has already been spent on back room administration. 

“We’re looking at administrative costs scattered across the science and research sector which our calculations put at well over $4m already. 

“We still have to ascertain how much has been spent on actual research compared to administrative costs, something the Minister must address. 

“Added to this is a real anxiety within the science community about what the costs of the bureaucracy of the Challenges will be once they are finally started. They are rightly worried about the ongoing complicated and heavy management and governance of the Challenges will be. They are looking at the Government’s plans and seeing expensive duplication. 

“This is another pet project from Steven Joyce that has left people with more questions than answers. 

“I’ve been asking the same questions to the Minister as many others; what are these Challenges adding to science in New Zealand and how much of the cash is actually going to make it into the lab once all the bureaucratic costs are siphoned off?”