CSIRO says it's not firing scientists, it's re-balancing

Changing focus and re-skilling, not walking away from climate research, says CEO

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has published a correction of recent reports about redundancies at the government-funded outfit.

Those reports have focussed on planned job losses in the organisation's Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water divisions, earning an accusation the cuts represent “a body blow to Australian science” from the CSIRO staff association and much grumbling from other quarters.

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall's rebuttal opens by saying that “the overall number of people in CSIRO is projected to be unchanged at the end of a two year period.”

Which doesn't mean some folks won't go. Those that are shown the door will do so in the cause of an effort to “balance our broad portfolio of investments from Digital to Agriculture we must weigh up where we can have the greatest impact and where Australia has the greatest need.”

Marshall also says he feels CSIRO will retain significant capacity in its Oceans and Atmosphere business, which will go from 420 staff to “about 355”, a higher number than has been reported.

The CEO also writes that CSIRO will “also recruit new people with new skills.”

He goes on to say that the changes are being made in the name of innovation.

“Australia is underdone on innovation,” Marshall writes. “Australia has long been an inventive society but realising the benefits of those inventions is a well-identified gap in our culture and practice.”

“Innovation” is the watch-word of Australia's recently-revamped government, so Marshall is bringing CSIRO into line with current thinking with this “correction” and the “Strategy 2020” plan it describes. Whether the Strategy is the right one remains open to debate. ®

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