Big tick for overhaul

November 19, 2004

We want to allay the fears expressed in your article on the new performance management framework system ("Fury over Treasury research meddling", November 12). To suggest that the framework will result in a "tick-box" approach to performance management misrepresents the subtle and sensible system being developed through dialogue between the research councils and the Government.

The key to a successful UK research base is flexibility and a healthy balance between bottom-up responsive research and top-down strategic thinking. We applaud the Chancellor's commitment to the future of UK research and the good sense that underpins the ten-year investment framework for science and innovation. We accept that increased investment of public money demands accountability. The research councils are working with the Office of Science and Technology to translate the overall strategic priorities of the science budget into defined aims for the research councils.

This system must not be overly bureaucratic or rely on simplistic indicators, and must not jeopardise speculative or adventurous research.

The greater certainty over funding that is now linked to the new performance management framework will benefit the UK academic community.

Ian Diamond
Chair, RCUK Executive Group, on behalf of the chief executives of the seven research councils and the Arts and Humanities Research Board

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