The most important federal systems of Brazilian research, the Lattes and Carlos Chagas platforms, have been experiencing a blackout since Friday (23) after a failure in the technology area. The problem affects routine processes related to research funding, such as payment, grant renewals, and invoicing.
The CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) is responsible for both systems and is responsible for promoting research in the country. The agency is affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The Lattes platform is a database with the résumés of all researchers. Measures like granting grants depend on advice from Lattes. The Carlos Chagas platform is used to make public calls and announcements to promote research, management, and grant disbursement operational.
About 84 thousand researchers are funded by the CNPq. In addition, other institutions such as Capes (coordination for the improvement of university staff) and development agencies associated with the state governments also conduct operations with the help of the Lattes platform.
The CNPq released a note admitting the bug that would have been identified on Saturday (24). The systems have been down for four days now, but there is still no forecast for a reset.
The board announces that the deadlines will be suspended and extended. Scholarship payments are not affected, according to the government.
“The problem that led to the unavailability of the systems has already been diagnosed in cooperation with contractors and the repair procedures initiated,” said a statement from the authority.
There are concerns among researchers and board members that the problem will lead to information loss. When asked, the agency denies that this risk exists and says that “there are backups, the content of which supports recovery” of the systems.
“CNPq already has new IT equipment [Tecnologia da Informação] and the data migration started before that happened, “the note says.
Even CNPq’s internal email went down. Only the agency’s website remains in operation, as it is hosted on the federal government’s central server.
There are still no details on the cause of the blackout. Information gathered from employees indicates that they burned a device containing devices that have the function of controlling the servers that host the platforms. This error would have occurred during the migration to new devices.
Officials point out the lack of maintenance of this infrastructure. This would be the effect of the budgetary pressures the agency is experiencing during the Jair Bolsonaro (no party) government and also in the previous Michel Temer (MDB) government.
“The agency is paralyzed. With the platforms unavailable, there is practically nothing we can do,” said Roberto Muniz, director of the National Union of Public Managers in Science and Technology and president of the Association of CNPq Servants.
“The failure may have occurred by chance, but devices of this type cannot be approved without maintenance and warranty contracts.”
Speaking to Folha, Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes said that the solution to the failure has been led by the CNPq so that normalcy may be reigned in the days to come. “There are no budget issues, just a matter of downtime to return,” he said.
The SBPC (Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science) has received reports of inability to access public notices such as B. Research Productivity Scholarships. According to the organization’s president, Renato Janine Ribeiro, a position in defense of development organizations is needed.
“The CNPq must have funds for end activities, which are the most important, but also for intermediate activities that guarantee the functioning of the body,” he said. “There is concern about the current crisis situation, but this ultimately stems from budgetary decisions.”