The main platforms of Brazilian science, Lattes and Carlos Chagas, were out of service for ten days. The Jair Bolsonaro government promised to restore the systems this Monday (2), but the technology issues that caused the systems to crash have not yet been resolved.
The platforms have been down since the 23rd of last month. 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 CNPq said last week that there had been no loss of information and that the damaged devices were already being restored. Despite predicting access to be restored this Monday, the agency released a note stating that “the full review is still ongoing”.
The CNPq report does not include a date with a forecast for the system restart. “This review included a series of tests that ran throughout the weekend, with occasional instabilities, that were adjusted to restore full storage capacity.”
The system failure was caused by the burning of a device in devices that has the function of controlling the servers that host the platforms. This would have occurred when migrating the data to a new server. CNPq’s president Evaldo Vilela ruled out a hacker’s action.
In an email the report received, a CNPq official reported on the 26th that the council’s main server had been reached and that the devices were out of warranty with no maintenance contract. This would prevent an immediate repair and would involve the need to hire an outside company as it actually happened.
When asked by Folha, CNPq and the Ministry of Science did not reply that the operation is without warranty and maintenance.
Lattes is a database of all researchers’ résumés and measures such as granting grants depend on the platform’s consultation. On the other hand, Carlos Chagas is responsible for conducting public calls and announcements to promote research, administration, and grant payment.
About 84 thousand researchers are funded by the CNPq. But other research institutions also carry out operations that are anchored on Lattes.
The deadlines for measures such as application, invoicing and the validity of scholarships are suspended and extended. New dates will be announced as soon as the systems are restored, says the CNPq, which guarantees the granting of grants will be paid out immediately.
According to the CNPq last week, the transfer of the data backup from the Lattes platform to a new server had already been completed. But the agency now says it preferred to expand testing on the devices.
“In order to guarantee the security, stability and functionality of the devices, we decided to extend the tests until this secure scenario for the availability of the systems can be offered,” said the notice on Monday.
Officials point out that the failure reflects the CNPq’s budget contraction. This was rejected by the President of the CNPq.
In 2021, the agency has the lowest budget since at least 2012, also in nominal terms. The Agency’s updated budget allocation for the year is R $ 1.2 billion – for example, between 2013 and 2015 the implemented budget exceeded R $ 2 billion.