NRC seen as bureaucratic, lacking focus on commercial research, audit finds

Wow. This is a combination of interesting and obvious. First - the obligatory quote.

But some perceptions are “impeding the full delivery” of this brand promise, Ipsos Reid found. The NRC is perceived as overly bureaucratic and consequently at times inefficient, broad in scope but lacking in regional and sector-specific focus, and too academic and not focused enough on commercial applications.

The latter perception is surprising, given that the NRC has been reorganized under the Conservative government to focus more on research that can be commercialized by industry.

Lets see now:

  • "overly bureaucratic": This one is a combination of being part of the government which is, after all, the biggest bureaucracy in the country. But I also place blame on the Conservative government which, during it's time in power, has introduced legislation and rules that have increased the amount of red-tape throughout the government. The conservatives will tell you otherwise of course, but the rules put in place have created such a fear of being nailed for doing something "wrong" that CYA processes have come to dominate any action or decision.

  • "inefficient": See above. Take the combination of the above legislatively mandated and CYA documentation and red-tape, couple it with the layoffs throughout the government, and multiply it by the nonsense involved with changing the NRC's focus. This means that the remaining employees are busy doing busywork such as strategic planning, re-oganization, and even moving labs. But also means that a lot of the stuff that might have been done by administrative support has now been shifted "down" to the bench level, so we have highly trained scientists and engineers spending their time trying to figure out the increasingly Byzantine procurement process and doing their own travel claims (among many other trivial duties previously done by others).

  • "insifficiently focused on commercial applications": Wow. Imagine that. Scientists and engineers have, until recently, been doing the long term and/or risky research that industry simply refuses to do. Now they are asked to focus on "innovation" - research that is by defiition is short term and less in keeping with their skills, aptitudes and training. How could that possibly be.

So, I think that most of the dissatisfaction of industry can be laid out right at the feet of the current government. But I suspect that at least some can be laid at the feet of the researchers, many of whom are - I suspect - waiting until the next election in the hope that the new government will have the sense to reverse (or at least moderate) may of the changes that the current buffoons have put in place.