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Too Slipshod National Research Project

Posted August. 06, 2001 10:05,   


`The Report on the National Research Project in 2002` released by the Korea Institute S & T Evaluation and Planning pointed out that the long and short-term research & development projects necessary for heightening the national competitiveness have been managed very slovenly.

Since each department and office has competitively pursued only the so-called `popular project`, the cooperation between the departments and offices has not been achieved well, and as a result, each department and office has redundantly used the budget for similar kinds of projects.

▼Evaluation Method and Contents

The 234 experts have reviewed the 161 research projects of 13 ministries and departments, and 5 offices. The reviewers belong to 11 evaluation committees and 14 research subject review committees, which were constituted by the Korea Institute S & T Evaluation and Planning.

The review was completed by the relative evaluation system as follows; A level (top 10 percent), B level (top 10-30 percent), C level (top 30-70 percent), D level (low 10-30 percent), and E level (low 10 percent). D and E levels refer to the project needed the amelioration.

The following ministries have more important projects: the Ministry of Science and Technology (31 projects), Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (27 projects), Ministry of Education and Human Resources (17 projects). And the projects which have been conducted the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy were evaluated as very poor, whose ratios of D and E level are 45 percent, 36 percent, and 35 percent respectively.

▼ Problems of the Indicated Projects

The academic research information service, a project of `The Korea Education & Research Information Service` (budget 14.1 billion won) in the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, overlapped with the foreign academic information service of other institutions such as the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation. Thus, it will be more efficient to use the foreign academic information service.

The project to support the Cancer Research Institute of Seoul National University College of Medicine is a very huge plan, according to which the government will offer the equipment and materials over 4 billion won to the institute built with 32 billion won by the Samsung and the Korea Telecom. But the project has been run very sloppily without even the general plan to purchase the equipment.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare`s project to support the National Medical Center has been managed by the very loose management system on pretext that it is a project to support 4.6 billion won for the wage guarantee rather than for the research & development. The same problem was pointed out in the 1999 project evaluation, but it has never been ameliorated.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism`s `project to support the research & development of game technology` (4.8 billion won) is the major project according to the five-year plan for cultural industry promotion. But the reviewers evaluated that it has a weak legal foundation and there has been no synergy effect through the plan to nurture the game venture industry and the technological supports.

The Ministry of Environment`s `project to develop the low car pollution technology` (15 billion won) was pointed out that it is needed to be reorganized in a full-scale because it is overlapped with the project of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

`The research and development project for efficient marine transport` (3 billion won) of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries could not forecast the increase rate of rent fee. The rate was originally anticipated to be 54 percent, but actually it was only 11.2 percent.


This is the third evaluation on the national research and development projects following the evaluations in 1998 and 1999. Redundant investment is a repeated problem which has been pointed out every time. It is another big problem that each ministry and department has not reformed in spite of the repeated indications.

The evaluation team pointed out that the Ministry of Science and Technology has pursued the research project related to the Parkinson disease in both `the major national research and development project` and `the basic objective research project`.

It is necessary to review the plan to give the disadvantage such as the cancellation of the project to the project or the institution which has consecutively been evaluated as the lowest.

And it is necessary to efficiently allocate the budgets even though they are research and development projects led by the government. While 41.4 percent of the government`s research and development budget was assigned to the government-funded research institutes, the colleges have accepted only 23 percent of the budget. This is in strong contrast to advanced countries that have increased their international competitiveness through investment to colleges such as the US (33.2 percent), Japan (38.8 percent), France and England (41.1 percent), Germany (43.9 percent) and Canada (9.7 percent).

It is noteworthy that the US colleges have been granted over 90 percent of their research funds from the federal governments.

Because 21.7 percent (21,722) of the 100,210 domestic researchers and the 76.8 percent of the doctorate researchers are working at the colleges, it is urgent to establish an organic joint system.

Lee In-Chul inchul@donga.com