Government Shutdown, Pork Barrel, and Science?
|Above image captured from|
Innovations, Research & News from Berkeley Engineering
Volume 7, Issue 2, March 2013
However, the recent news articles from the Manila Standard relating that PCARI is "anomalous" are extremely disconcerting. 40 million US dollars per year for 5 years amount to 200 million US dollars. That is about 10 billion pesos. This is indeed a considerable amount of money especially for a poor country like the Philippines. From the discussion group, PCARI was presented as a project "initiated and mediated" by Dado Banatao. There is a copy of PCARI's executive summary proposal submitted to Philippines' secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, Florencio Abad. It includes the following proposed budget:
|Above table captured from|
Philippines-California Advanced Research Institutes
Executive Summary Proposal
In the summary proposal by Banatao, the following phrase is found in describing the proposed project:
Our initial estimate of the core funding profile in total is US$205 million over five years, with a portion spent in the Philippines as appropriate to the costs and needs to support the programs there. The Institute Directors and the PCARI board will manage funding for the mirror sites, at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. Funds for the Institute for Information Infrastructure Development will be spent on participating faculty and activities primarily in the College of Engineering and CITRIS Berkeley and the funds for the Institute for Healthcare Innovation and Translational Medicine will be spent on participating faculty and activities primarily at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. At this time, the annual funding is expected to be divided equally between the two institutes.This brings me back to the annoying predicament of not being able to view websites of the National Science Foundation. It is useful to contrast the above with existing policies of a US government agency on programs that are of internationally collaborative nature. Fortunately, there are other websites that describe strategies on how to secure such kind of funding from US agencies. These strategies help illustrate policies taken by US agencies with regard to funding research outside the US. One example is an article from the Science journal, "GrantDoctor Special Edition: Funding International Research Collaborations". These are the relevant excerpts:
...If you do choose to include a foreign component in your proposal, note the following: Facilities and administration for the foreign component of any grant may not exceed 8% of the foreign budget, less equipment. This, in NIH's judgment, is all that's needed to meet the extra costs of compliance with NIH and Department of Health and Human Services requirements...For National Science Foundation funding
In general, NSF follows the "sender-side-pays" model: When U.S. scientists go abroad, NSF pays the way. When, say, France sends a collaborator to the United States, France pays. This approach is fine when the partner is France, or some other affluent country, but it works less well when research partners are in developing countries. So--listen up; this is a key point--NSF program officers have some discretion in funding elements of a project that, in the words of Libby Lyons of OISE, "are deemed essential to the successful outcome of the project."
She's making sense; let's keep listening: "Thus, if there is local scientific expertise that is essential to include, a program officer may decide that some consultancy may be appropriate for the foreign scientist. Likewise, if having a foreign student is deemed essential to the project, for example, because s/he speaks the local language or can be in the field all year, a program officer could [provide] some support." Some expenses--tuition at foreign institutions, large amounts of salary for foreign investigators, large-scale foreign training activities--lie well outside NSF's mandate. But the point here is that if they are essential, some foreign expenses can be paid by NSF.
Ricafort and Alonzo said the US did not have counterpart funds and all inventions and discoveries to be made by the research team in the US would carry patents and intellectual property rights according to US laws with the Philippine government not having to own the patents.
The Commission on Higher Education on Saturday appealed to politicians not to exploit the suicide case of a University of the Philippines Manila student on Friday supposedly because she could not afford to pay tuition. (GMA News, 16 March 2013)