The Jair Bolsonaro government announced this Monday (16) the full restoration of the Carlos Chagas platform, which has been out of service since July 23. New deadlines for submitting projects for eight frozen public tenders have been announced, but the August nomination deadline for new fellows will be announced shortly.
The system was down for 23 days after the servers of the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development), a federal research development agency, were affected. Access to the Lattes platform, which was also affected by the outage, was normalized on the 8th of this month.
The ineffectiveness of Carlos Chagas affected the continuity of projects across the country and additionally hampered the technical work of CNPq. The platform, founded in 2007, is the central interface between researchers and the agency.
Carlos Chagas conducts public tenders and announcements to promote research, as well as the administration and payment of grants and accounting. The length of the blackout caused concern among researchers.
Around 84,000 scholarship holders are funded by the CNPq. According to official information, the agency currently supports 2,201 research projects.
The problem stopped the continuity of public calls, including, for example, productivity grants for researchers, advanced therapies, and scientific events. The notices had a deadline for filing between July 25th and August 20th, when the platform was down.
The new deadlines now vary between August 20 and September 8, which means delays in realizing the federal funding. “Proposals submitted by July 23, when the unavailability began are protected,” the CNPq said in a statement. The agency guarantees that no information has been lost.
According to official information from the CNPq, the blackout was caused by the burning of a controller device of the servers on which the platforms are hosted. This would have occurred when migrating data to a new server.
According to CNPq, the delay in resolving the situation is related to the process of transferring data to a new server. The decision had been made, said the council, to migrate all data, systems and services to new devices before access to the Carlos Chagas platform is restored “in order to ensure more security and stability and still have a definitive solution”.
The main CNPq server affected by the outage was out of warranty and without a maintenance contract. When asked, the agency stated that a working group “will act in a careful assessment of the conditions that have caused the problem”.
Researchers see the budget cut as the cause of the problem. The need for improvements and investments in the platforms has been officially addressed by CNPq since last September at the latest.
The funds allocated to the CNPq have been tightened in recent years and intensified by the Bolsonaro government. The agency is affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
In 2021 the council will have 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, from 2013 to 2015 the implemented budget exceeded R $ 2 billion per year.
The number of servers was also reduced by 34% between 2015 and 2020. There are now 316 employees up from 478 in 2015.
Data indexed in the Web of Science database and collected by the Council shows that 40% of Brazilian scientific production in 2020 was supported by the CNPq. In 2015 this percentage was 44.5%, but CNPq positions itself with the current share as the largest development agency in the country.