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Shared management

Task group will assess decentralization of Science e Technology policies

The Center for Management and Strategic Studies (CGEE) will be housing a task group party whose task will to be to assess strategies for inducing regional policies for Science e Technology, and, from this point of view, to study measures to decentralize the planning policies of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT). The party will be made up of representatives from the Research Support Foundations (FAPs in the Portuguese acronym), State Departments for Science and Technology, from the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and from the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep).

The FAPs advocate the decentralization of policies and funds for Science e Technology in order to strengthen partnerships with the local governments. They, for example, propose to take over the distribution of the funds for supporting research and for training human resources, which at present are the responsibility of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Capes, according to the explanation by Francisco Romeu Landi, who is the presiding director of FAPESP’s Technical/Administrative Board and president of the Forum of the FAPs. Decentralization, or rather, shared management, will make it possible to use the strategic capillary network that the FAPs have, their local knowledge of researchers, laboratories, companies and regional/local problems.

Sérgio Bampi, the presiding director of the Rio Grande do Sul Research Support Foundation (Fapergs), estimates that the FAPs had an income of R$ 600 million in 2001, “far short of what they ought to have”, he observes. With budgeted funds from the federal government, it will be possible to consolidate partnerships with the States, adds Naftale Katz, scientific director of the Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation (Fapemig). “We hope that this partnership with the MCT will make it possible to define a common operational agenda, with an effective contribution from the federal government”, completed Jocelino Francisco de Menezes, who presides the FAP in Sergipe.

Productive arrangements
The MCT views with concern the idea of decentralization. But, during the National Forum of the Research Support Foundations and Institutions of the States and the Federal District, which took place at FAPESP on December 7th, the MCT’s executive secretary, Carlos Américo Pacheco, agreed to analyze the subject, and proposed the formation of the working party in the CGEE. Others taking part in the Forum were the Assistant Secretary for Science, Technology and Economic Development of the State of São Paulo, Oswaldo Massambani; Evandro Mirra, the president of the CGEE; Esper Abrão Cavalheiro, the president of the CNPq; Mauro Marcondes, the president of Finep; José Galisia Tundisi, former president of the CNPq who is now a member of the International Ecology Institute; José Seixas Lourenço, from the MCT; Beatriz Tess, from the Ministry of Health; Cláudio Marinho, the president of the Forum of the State Departments, and the presidents of the FAPs.

Pacheco believes that decentralization will only be important if the FAPs link themselves to local development projects, such as the productive arrangements and clusters that are being developed by the MCT along with the CNPq, Finep, development agencies and other local partners. These actions, named as the Program of Scientific and Technological Cooperation for Regional Development, have as their objective the identification of local vocations and priorities, the organization of productive arrangements, and the boosting of investments. The centralized actions of the federal government should be translated into selective actions in the states. He also recalled that the agenda for the national scientific and technological policy goes far beyond the development structure.

“There is a difficulty in understanding this agenda, which tends to be underestimated, as if it were limited to development, which is a central activity, but which accounts for a small portion of expenditure.” He added that the MCT administers only 50% of federal expenditure on Science e Technology, in spite of having expanded its budget with resources from the Sectorial Funds. And he concludes: “Talking about decentralization is no trivial matter.” In his assessment, any change in the form of distribution of funds for development will call for alterations in the basic values for the payment of grants. The value of the grants, in the federal sphere, is linked to the basic salaries of the professors at the federal universities. “In the states, this commitment does not exist, and this may bring problems.”

Heterogeneous system
Decentralization already features in the relations between the CNPq and the FAPs, Cavalheiro observes. “Today, we have 12 actions with the foundations”, Cavalheiro tots up. The problem is the discrepancies that there are between them. “There are active FAPs, inactive FAPs, and those that do not exist”, he says . In a heterogeneous system, he reckoned, the decentralization of finance may be a problem. “There has to be linkage with the national policy and between the FAPs, and not a work of competition, but one of respect for local peculiarities.” He recalled the Millennium Institute for Policies for the Sea, which gathered research groups from Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Pernambuco that hitherto had been working in isolation. “It is necessary for the discussions to be centralized, and the CGEE is the right place to do this.”

Mirra, who has already presided the CNPq, guaranteed that the CGEE will be hosting this “task force” made up of representatives from the FAPs and the state secretariats. “We have to make a diagnosis of the possibilities and the net of obstacles”, he explained. The first obstacle, he pointed out, lies in the budgetary logic of the sector public. “It is not possible to make even short term forecasts. Today, the CNPq does not even know what its budget is for this year.” This is a result of the delay in the voting of the budget by Congress and in the subsequent approval of the actual spending of the budget that caps expenditures. In spite of these difficulties, he says, the CNPq is taking on the risks and supporting regional strategies.

Mirra made it clear, however, that inducement is not an indispensable condition for the development of research in harmony with regional needs or those of the country. He revealed that at least 85% of the CNPq’sbudget finances spontaneous research, “without any political inducement.” Of the 1,600 lines of research into Life Sciences, for example, it was found that 70% are in harmony with the eight national priorities for Health. “An examination of the research lines has shown some agreeable surprises, revealing that our researchers are mature”, he said. This assessment made it clear, however, that the country is short of basic research. “We have to work in such a way as to build cooperative strategies and draw up joint actions.”

Mauro Marcondes, from Finep, also pointed to linkage between the FAPs as the way for developing a joint agenda for actions in the states. “We have a partnership with the states in the local productive arrangements. We are linking up with new agencies and development banks with this objective”, he explained.

Pilot Project
The idea of decentralization proposed by the FAPs is now taking shape in a pilot project that is being implemented by the Ministry of Health, in a partnership, through agreements, with Research Support Foundations and State Departments for Health in seven states: Alagoas, Goiás, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Sergipe and Mato Grosso do Sul. The agreement with the FAPs from the northeast was signed on December 13th. The objective is to promote linkage and integration between the state health systems and those for science and technology. It was left to the ministry to identify the actions of scientific and technological development in the sector.

The proposal was concluded at the 1st Intersectorial Forum for Institutional Development in Science and Technology in Health, which put together technicians from the ministry and ten FAPs. The ministry is to fork out R$ 2.68 million, which will be intended for financing research in areas regarded as a priority for the regional and institutional development of the state secretariats and the FAPs. “At least 70% of the funds will go into research, and 30% for infrastructure and human resource”, explained Beatriz Tess. Mato Grosso do Sul, for example, can count on R$ 63 million. The researchers will also be able to count on funds from their direct administration.