Monthly Archives: November 2011

Government Document on Public Sector Reform

The Irish Government today published a document entitled Public Service Reform. This document sets out a strategy as to how the Government intends to update or reform the public and civil service over the coming years.

It’s not my place to comment on the nature of the reforms, or whether I agree or disagree with them, but I will highlight some proposed reforms outlined in the “Rationalisation of State Agencies” appendix to the document that might be of interest to those of us in the scientific community in Ireland. The following extracts are taken verbatim from the report:

  • Merge Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology & Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Science into consolidated single council under HEA
  • Establish the scope to merge Forfás into the Department
  • Merge the Digital Hub Development Authority with Enterprise Ireland/IDA
  • Commission for Communication Regulation: Merge with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
  • Expert Group on Future Skills Needs: Absorb into Department (Education).
  • Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation: Absorb into Department (DJEI).
  • Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government: Examine absorbing into Science Foundation Ireland.

From my reading of the report, there is no mention of PRTLI or HRB, nor any other mention of SFI, apart from the final bullet point above.

There is further commentary and analysis of the document on the RTE News website.

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Thesis in 3

thesis-in-three-logoLast night, it was my privilege to be a judge for the Thesis in 3 competition, organised by the CLARITY CSET, in conjunction with their colleagues in the other eight CSETs.

The idea of the Thesis in 3 is very simple. It’s a rapid-fire competition, whereby PhD students in our CSETs have an opportunity to present their thesis work to a general audience. They get three minutes, and three slides to do so. Sounds simple, but condensing three or four years to highly technical and involved research into such a short time, and clarifying it to be understandable to the non-expert, is truly a difficult task. All 25 PhD candidates who entered the competition did so admirably.

On the night, we heard presentations on topics as diverse as the nanoscience of graphene, cancer biology, sensor networks, intestinal health, artificial intelligence, interference in wireless telecommunications, software engineering and speech processing. A great cross section of the work currently underway at the CSETs.

Despite the stiff competition, the judging panel of Dr. Keith O’Neill of Enterprise Ireland, Rosemary MacCabe of the Irish Times, Patrick Haughey of TodayFM and myself ultimately selected Eva Szekely of the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) in UCD as the winner, for her talk entitled “Voices that Speak to You”. As part of her prize, Eva will get to present her talk at the upcoming SFI Science Summit next week, in front of an audience of the top scientists in the country.

Many congratulations to Eva, our two runners up, Arlene O’Neill of CRANN and Sean Fitzgerald of BDI, as well as all the other participants. A particular congratulations to Bridget Kelly of CLARITY, who is the mastermind behind the whole effort.

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Trouble at Olympus

Unless you follow the online camera/photography blogs and websites, you might not be aware of the corporate implosion currently underway at the once great Olympus. It looks like the incoming CEO, Michael Woodford, (the first non-Japanese person to hold the post, incidentally) uncovered a massive fraud. He was fired for his trouble, but has reported his findings to the Fraud Office in the UK. This has consequently led to a further investigation, and recently the resignation of the Chairman if the company.

Here’s a decent summary of the story so far, as well as some links for further reading.

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