Fall in CNPq: Science and Technology are not priorities in Brazil

by Kelvin
Fall in CNPq: Science and Technology are not priorities in Brazil

Since last Friday (24), platforms of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) have been offline, generating a negative impact on the scientific and academic communities. Among them, Carlos Chagas, responsible for processing projects, and Plataforma Lattes, which stores academic material, stand out.

The problem in question, pointed out by CNPq in a note, was in a storage, but according to the advice “there is no data loss from the Lattes Platform”. According to sources consulted by TecMundo, problems of this type had already been indicated internally; in addition, the cut in funds and the outsourcing of the Information Technology (IT) area were also mentioned as part of the problem.

“The weakness of information technology systems, in particular the capacity of the two platforms (César Lattes and Carlos Chagas) was identified a long time ago and has been pointed out by the current presidency of CNPq since his inauguration,” said Hernandes Carvalho, president of the Federation of Societies of Experimental Biology (FEsBE). “You could say that this is an announced tragedy,” he said.

  

According to Roberto Muniz, president of the Association of CNPq Servers (ASCON), with the exception of some services, such as the “SEI program, which only deals with internal processes, the rest is all out of the air”. He said that, in general, the CNPq “is not operating”.

“For you to have the dimension of the problem, we have no e-mail. The institutional e-mails to communicate with the CNPq have not been working since Saturday (24), and we are also without telephone services.” He explains that the agency uses an internet-based VoIP telephony service.

“And this has worried us a lot, because the CNPq was incommunicado,” said Muniz. “It is inconceivable that the main funding agency for Science and Technology in the country is in such a situation. And since Friday it has been down with all its systems. This harms hundreds of researchers, students and fellows,” he pointed out.

direct negative impact

Romeu Cardozo Rocha Filho, president of the Brazilian Chemical Society (SBQ), assesses that the ineffectiveness of the main CNPq platforms “has a strong negative impact on the scientific and academic communities. Without them, practically all the dialogue between the community and the agency leaves to be possible”.

Initially, the impact prevents the community from proceeding with “any project, whether for submission, implementation, or accountability,” Rocha Filho said. These are carried out by the Integrated Platform Carlos Chagas.

Access to the Lattes Platform, says Carvalho, “is a continuous task in Brazilian academic life”. “I can foresee a big impact on these different activities, with delays in public calls that will need to have their submission deadlines extended. Public tenders may have their application periods extended,” he said.

In a statement, due to the problems, the CNPq informs that the “payment of scholarships will not be affected” and that all “terms of actions related to the promotion of CNPq, including the Rendering of Accounts, are suspended and ex officio will be extended”.

lack of priority

“The situation of the CNPq is a reflection of how the federal government has treated science in general. The ministry is weak, receiving little attention from the Executive, which, consequently, weakens the CNPq. The suffocation of the Brazilian Science and Technology system shows its effects,” assessed Carvalho.

In 2021, according to data from the Integrated Operations System (Siop) collected by the The globe, the CNPq had a budget of BRL 1.21 billion, the smallest in the 21st century. In 2020 (BRL 1.48 billion), 2019 (BRL 1.6 billion) and 2018 (BRL 1.48 billion), values ​​were slightly higher. From 2013 (3.14 billion) to 2021, the reduction reaches 60%.

In January of this year, President Jair Bolsonaro vetoed two sections of the complementary law 177/21 that determined the immediate release of funds withheld from the National Scientific and Technological Development Fund (FNDCT) and prohibited new restrictions. In 2020, the FNDCT had a budget of BRL 6 billion, but around BRL 5 billion were prevented from being invested in Science, Technology and Innovation.

“The retention of FNDCT resources has been one of the main strategies of the federal government to continue neglecting Science and the mechanisms created over the decades”, said Carvalho, recalling that the CNPq “completes 70 years this year”. “The origin of these actions lies in the clear denial of the President of the Republic,” he stated.

“The origin of these actions lies in the clear denial of the President of the Republic”, Hernandes Carvalho, president of FEsBE.

CNPq is linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil. For Carvalho, the ministry “has little reaction capacity to guarantee the functioning of its main agency, since the conditions of the existing systems had already been communicated, but received precarious assistance”.

“Today, we are in a situation where these systems are out of date, with constant problems that have been pointed out by researchers for years and now this blackout has occurred. The only explanation we have is, really, the lack of priority”, said Muniz.

“The only explanation we have is, really, the lack of priority”, president of the CNPq Servants Association.

almost like cave time

Another problem, highlights Muniz, is the lack of investment in infrastructure. He says that “there is a lack of investment in Science and Technology”, but there is also “a lack of investment in the structures that provide services”. “We talk a lot about lack of money to pay scholarships, lack of money to pay for research, but forget to mention that there is a lack of investment (and then it’s not just money, it’s general) in infrastructure”.

According to him, currently, the agency’s IT area has “very few servers with public contracts” and is almost entirely outsourced. Muniz points out that problems like these, if not taken properly, can damage “the image of security and reliability in the institution’s systems”. Furthermore, with an obsolete system, there is a loss of effectiveness and efficiency in treatment and management.

“In the absence of servers that we currently have, working without a system is almost like going back to the time of the caves. So, I hope that there is investment in this so that there is no greater loss in the future,” stated Muniz.

The lack of adequate funding is also pointed out by Rocha Filho as something that could bring new damage: “the CNPq budget for 2021 is a fraction of what is needed for its functions, as the main federal agency for the promotion of science, to be carried out to content, ensuring the effective advancement of the area of ​​Science, Technology and Innovation (CT&I) in the country”.

In parallel, he points out that, without funding, “there is no way to have scientific and technological development. This needs to be prioritized, as well as Education and Health”. Until the closing of this article, the platforms Carlos Chagas and Lattes remain offline. The Center for Research and Development in Telecommunications (CPQd) has been assisting fellows, academics, scientists and other people by calling (61) 3211-4000 or by e-mail [email protected], linked to the MCTI.

Also released this Wednesday (28), a video statement presented by Evaldo Vilela, president of CNPq and the Director of Management and Information Technology, Thales Marçal, reveals that the agency should inform, between today and tomorrow (29), when accesses should be re-established.

Vilela reinforced that “the data are guaranteed” and that the replacement of the defective equipment will happen as soon as possible. In addition, he says that they should not face problems with the payment of scholarships or with the deadlines, since all of them are suspended and will be extended. He also cites that “the problem with the IT issue is not budget related.”

Updated article on 07/28 at 15:04 with the CNPq video newsletter.