Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (117)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

117. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the multiple independent procurements of research grant management software by agencies under the control of his Department and the total cost to the taxpayer of these systems; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the same supplier has supplied all but one of these systems and that all are compliant with European Commission standards on the exchange of research information and are all capable of being integrated into one grant management system, as has been done in the US and the UK with the consequent savings that produces; the reason, despite the existence of a national research platform report, no progress has been made on the implementation of an integrated national research platform; and if his attention has been drawn to the consequent diversion of resources in research bodies, HEs and others to the management of these multiple systems and away from the proper good governance of public resources spent on research. [45567/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, competitive research funding made available from my Department is managed by one body, the Irish Research Council. The Council uses an online grant management system for all its research programmes which provides an efficient and user-friendly service to applicants. This system was first procured by its predecessor, the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology in 2008, and developments to date have cost €128,980. There is also an annual licence and maintenance cost of some €16,000.

I understand that this system is also used by other national research funding agencies and that these agencies have joined to create a user group to explore ways to optimise their use of the system and to examine common requirements and opportunities for efficiencies. It is important to note that each system is customised for that agency's particular programmes and clientele, however, efforts are being made to streamline the systems where possible and to maximise opportunities for efficiencies.