Issue Date: June 15, 2009
Shuffling In U.K. Government Worries Scientists
U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has eradicated the government department responsible for universities and research and placed its operations under the umbrella of the newly formed Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (DBIS). In addition to being responsible for universities and research, DBIS also absorbed another department called Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform. Some researchers worry that being under the umbrella of DBIS means scientists will have to provide economic justifications for their basic research. Others are concerned that being managed by the same department that provides bailouts to failing U.K. industries means science budgets could be siphoned off to help fund rescue packages during the economic crisis. The governmental shake-up also doubled the responsibilities for the U.K. minister for science and innovation, Lord Drayson, who will take on the additional job of minister for defense procurement. There is concern that Drayson's double duties will shortchange the science portfolio. Using the social-networking Web service Twitter, Drayson responded to critics by arguing that the more the science minister is connected to wider roles in government, "the more influence science has to the whole agenda."
- Chemical & Engineering News
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