CSIRO management have outlined a plan to cut jobs, close sites and scale back research in response to a heavy funding cut by the federal government and a continuing decline in external earnings.
Following the federal budget announcement that CSIRO faces an appropriation funding cut of $115 million over the next four years, CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark released the organisation’s Annual Directions Statement.
As forecast by Dr Clark in an earlier email to CSIRO staff, management’s plan involves hundreds of job losses, multiple site closures and big cuts to research.
Hundreds more jobs to go
CSIRO management have confirmed that as a result of the budget cut, another 420 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions will be lost by the end of June 2015. A further 80 FTE are forecast to be cut by June 2018 if CSIRO’s external earnings continue to decline as predicted.
These job losses are additional to the 300 FTE already slated to go as a result of the restructure. CSIRO has lost more than 400 staff since last July.
Management have yet to provide the details of the latest jobs forecast to be cut including the location of the positions.
CSIRO received one-off budget funding of $32.2 million for 2013-14 to fund redundancies.
Multiple CSIRO sites will be closed
The Annual Directions Statement confirms the recent findings of the Commission of Audit that CSIRO is struggling to repair, maintain and operate the organisation’s large and diverse property portfolio.
However there were no additional funds in the Federal Budget to help CSIRO cope with the $175 million maintenance shortfall.
In response, Dr Clark has stated that CSIRO will immediately proceed with plans to reduce sites from 56 down to 48.
Management have subsequently revealed details of the sites that are due to closed. Some of these consolidations and relocations are the result of current projects already underway.
The Campbell, Crace and Yarralumla sites in Canberra are due to close and staff relocated to Black Mountain as part of the ACT site consolidation project. Victoria’s Highett Laboratory will close with staff set to be located to Clayton as part of the Clayton Property Strategy. The final remaining staff at Geelong-Belmont be relocated, possibly to Waurn Ponds. Armidale’s Arding field station will be sold.
However, there are a number of site earmarked for closure had not been previously canvassed by management.
There is a new plan to close the Aspendale Laboratories – a stronghold of CSIRO’s marine and atmospheric research. It remains unclear where Aspendale staff will be relocated to. The Griffith Laboratory in the New South Wales Riverina will be closed. There is no indication where affected staff will be moved to. Management will close the site housing the Australian e-Health Research, located at the University of Queensland in Herston. At this stage it is not clear where these staff will be moved to.
The Staff Association has sought an urgent meeting with management to discuss the proposed site closures.
Cuts to research and changes to facilities
The Annual Directions Statement reveals areas of research that CSIRO plans to scale back and in some cases, exit altogether. Agriculture, Food and Health: Management plans to stop research in neurosciences and colorectal cancer, except in relation to nutrition. Energy and resources: Convention oil and gas work will be reprioritised. Geothermal research will cease completely and reductions will be made in other activities such as carbon capture and storage and efficient energy management. CSIRO will also stop research into liquid fuels. Manufacturing, productivity and services: Activities in bioscience, nanoscience, device engineering and systems, and high performance metal industries will all be reduced. Environment: Investment in urban water research will be cut including all work currently performed at the Highett Laboratory as part of the Water for a Healthy Country flagship. Total investment in social and economic sciences will fall. Overall investment in terrestrial biodiversity research will be reduced. Marine biodiversity will be defunded, especially research currently performed by the Wealth for Oceans flagship on bathymetry and marine habitat mapping. Radio Astronomy: There will be cuts to research in radio astronomy, astrophysics and within the Astronomy and Technology theme. There will be a reduction in effort at the Parkes and Narrabri facilities and the Mopra facility will be closed altogether.