In the light of message of the head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev, dedicated to the redistribution of latitude between branches of the governmental authorities, it has appeared the urgent need for revision of all management systems, including the industry level. In particular, management of the scientific sphere.
The President pays constant attention to this topic. Issues of the science development, real impact of its financing, commercialization of researches and development are affected almost in all messages of the President, during his meetings with the representatives of the scientific community, in special presentations and documents. The state, regardless of the difficulties caused by economic crisis continues to allocate the serious financial resources to science. The three-year budget for 2016-2018 is planned to direct for the realization of ongoing scientific and technical projects in total of 56.8 billion tenge, of which in 2016 was allocated 21.8 billion tenge by three forms of financing.
In this case, the state has the right to expect from industry the real contribution into the development of science and economic efficiency of the scientific researches. But, unfortunately, the domestic science cannot provide the significant achievements according these indicators. This theme has been widely discussed between the scientists themselves, who see the problem in inefficient management system.
Someone may object me, saying that we have built quite clear system of science management. The highest scientific and technical commission under the republic management, determines the main directions of the science development, based on priorities called by the head of state, and decisions of financing of scientific researches take the national scientific councils. Their decisions shall be given after the competitive selection of scientific projects and programs on the basis of expertise of leading domestic and foreign scientists. The organization and holding of expertise is implemented by the National center of the state scientific and technical expertise.
But why we cannot combine it with the expectations of the economics, when there seems to be such a coherent management system of state financing? So, it’s time to think if the system needs to be improved.
I’ll start from the bottlenecks formed in the financing of science. There are following types of budget financing of science for the present day in Kazakhstan: basic, program-targeted and grant.
The state grant are obtained by scientific communities and individual researches on the competitive basis by the results of serious and multi-stage selection procedure. But please note, when granting, it is not about the direct order for definite technology or introduction. It is expected that the obtained technology and prototypes will be evaluated by the investors for commercialization after their creation. As the practice shows, only a small part of obtained results is used in the real economy.
Can you imagine that the founder of Apple Steve Jobs just gave his developers millions of dollars on something, thinking: If you try doing something long and hard enough, something will come out of it? The question is rhetorical, of course. In his vision there was approximate technology from three-proven components, which embodiment was iPhone, and this was the task for developers – to create the phone-computer, without which we cannot imagine our lives today.
It means those who set challenges for science, should clearly know what the country needs at the moment. The President determines the directions, government agencies responsible for their implementations, while they concretize the tasks based on the needs of the country, calculate costs and deadlines. If the scientific task is solved, they fully square accounts with the authors of projects and performers. It is expedient to enter the certain preferential rules during the competition for R&D funding. It is the presence of the customer, interested in scientific research, or a solid co-financing from business side.
But we must keep in mind that serious scientific results, especially in fundamental researches, are obtained only in long-term studies. The limiting of work on the scientific projects by some brief period without guaranties of extension of financing, when the scientific staff and scientists have to come to the competition every three year, interrupting the process of scientific search, reduces the efficiency of the scientists work. This practice leads to the profanation of science – who wants to sit on a “diet”, but at the same time to lead the significant scientific project on the basis sheer enthusiasm? We suggest identifying the minimum period of work on the fundamental research project (or research) not less than 5-10 years with a possible extension of funding. In addition, you need an expert opinion on the continuation of research till the implementation stage.
The significant source of state investment in science is a program-targeted funding. In accordance with the law on science, the programs directed on the solution of strategically important state tasks are funded by this program. Their financing is implemented on the basis of competition or by the decision of the government, thus the given projects must be implemented on the highest level. It is expected that they will give the economic effect in industry that will affect on the knowledge content of the economy. However, any assessment of this effect usually absent in the planning documents on programs and in reports of performance. We offer to carry out the economic expertise of projects for the preliminary assessment of their economic feasibility. This assessment should be decisive when considering the projects in the national scientific council, deciding how much and for what will be allocated the budget.
Also, it is important the balance between different types of budget financing. There is no definite answer for this question yet. According to the state registration in NCSTE, the main part of R&D in Kazakhstan is implemented in the framework of grant financing. In 2015 it accounted for more than half of registered R&D – 56.3%. Also, it is marked the proportion of projects, implementing in the framework of scientific and technical programs: in 2012 – 25.5% of projects, in 2014 – 25.8%, in 2015 – 20.9%. It also, should be noted that there is imbalance between fundamental, applied researches and research and development workings: the share of fundamental is 23%, the share of applied researches is 53% and the share of research and development working is 24%. While in developed countries its ratio is 15:25:60. The investing in research and development is in the priority, because their results provide the high level of competitiveness of the country.
We will also note this moment. Despite the significant volume of financing, the share of costs for the implementation of scientific and R&D works is only 0.17% of GDP. However, 60% of funds come from the state budget, about 30% from funds of organizations, and the rest from the business-structures unrelated to science, which indicated the low interest of business in scientific researches. His rapprochement to science is impeded by the high economic risks, lack of availability of scientific and technical results for the practical introduction, lack of qualified professionals, lack of development of innovative infrastructure. It is also requires the improvement of tax policy on the stimulation of costs of private sector on the R&D. Investments in innovations must be most profitable for the private sector.
And now we came to the main topic – creation of unified system of public administration of science. The absence of consolidating government agencies on the development of scientific and technical activity is a big problem for us, which solution will mainly depend on the efficiency of invested money in science. According to the law on science the management in scientific field is implemented by five structures: government, highest scientific and technical commission, national scientific council, Science committee of MES RK, sectoral authorized bodies. Highest scientific and technical commissions and national scientific councils perform socially-advisory functions. In addition, the ministry of investment and development has its own departments: National agency of technological development, center of commercialization and technology transfer, sectoral engineering bureau and other structures and foundations. Also other ministries are engaged in science.
It is very difficult to coordinate the realization of priorities, to formulate the state order for the scientific researches in all sectors of economy in such situation. Everybody engaged in science, but there is no science as the basis of economic development. Moreover, the allocated funds for the science are sprayed or unused, but the researches in the best case duplicated each other. In other words, a whole body of science is fragmented, and these fragments are not connected to each other.
There is a need in a single law on the state regulation of scientific, scientific and technical and innovational activity instead of several existing (“On science”, “On the commercialization of results of scientific and technical activity”, “On the state support of industrial and innovational activity” (the last one is repealed)), which would regulate all the issues of the scientific field.
In addition, existing problems in scientific and innovational field require the creation of body, which would provide the common and concreted actions in this field. This independent body must implement the functions of technological and scientific audit of applied and implemented programs, and have the appropriate authority and the place in the vertical of government. Such kind of body could be the National agency for scientific, scientific and technical activity (NASSTA), which will act as the state customer for the science, and the main coordinator in the system of fundamental, applied and industrial science, as well as the controller of the process of introduction of results of scientific researches into the production. And, of course, it must control the use of public funds.
In our opinion, the creation of NASSTA is necessary to provide more efficient interaction between the scientific field and sector of real economy. In addition, this agency should bfe given the legal form of supreme body of state management and control of scientific, scientific and technical and innovational activity, directly subordinate and accountable to the President. Regulations of the agency, according its competence, should be binding on the ministries and departments. The viability of central state bodies accountable to the government won’t be diminished by this in any case. In addition, the achievement of the objectives set by the President – in near 10-15 years to create the knowledge-intensive economic base, will be possible only with this legal form. The last decades are characterized by a sharp rise of influence of science and technology on the lives of people. Under these conditions, the effectiveness of public policies is largely depends on how correctly the national priorities of development are identified, how much effective the mechanisms and tools, used for the implementation of them.
Adil Ibrayev, President of the National Center for State Scientific and Technical Evaluation, the honored worker of Kazakhstan, photo from the personal archive of Adil Ibrayev and Vladimir Zaikin, Almaty.