Expand the autonomy of scientific research project funding management, improve the funding mechanism for scientific research projects, increase incentives for scientific research personnel

  Let researchers no longer be disturbed by "red tape"

  "We have initially calculated that through this reform measure, the cost of scientific research project funds for human resources can reach more than 50%, and the incentives for scientific research personnel are unprecedented." On August 19, Assistant Minister of Finance Owenhan said The General Office of the State Council’s Several Opinions on Reforming and Improving the Management of Scientific Research Funds of the Central Government (hereinafter referred to as the "Several Opinions") policy briefing stated that the "Several Opinions" will expand the autonomy of scientific research project funding management, improve the funding mechanism of scientific research projects, and increase In 7 aspects including incentives for large scientific research personnel, 25 reform policies and work requirements are put forward, targeted and precise, and promptly responded to the concerns of the scientific and technological community, enhancing the sense of acquisition of scientific researchers, and stimulating the vitality of scientific research and innovation.

  "We will work with relevant departments to pay close attention to the implementation of the "Several Opinions" to ensure that the policies are effective." It is believed that after this reform, scientific research personnel have greater autonomy in the use of funds, stronger incentives for scientific research project fund management, less red tape, and a better environment for scientific research personnel to start their own businesses and have more enthusiasm.

  Respect the laws of scientific research and give scientific research units and researchers greater autonomy in the use of funds

  “From 2013 to 2020, the central government’s expenditure on science and technology will reach 2.3 trillion yuan; in 2021, when the central government’s expenditure continues to grow negatively, through adjustment of the fiscal expenditure structure, the focus will be on guaranteeing science and technology expenditure, and a budget of 322.7 billion yuan will be allocated for science and technology. Innovation provides strong support." Owenhan introduced that the focus of this reform is to fully respect the laws of scientific research and give scientific research units and researchers greater autonomy in the use of funds.

  "Scientific research is different from planned production and construction. It has the characteristics of instant inspiration, random methods, and uncertain paths. The use of scientific research funds cannot be managed simply by using administrative budgets and project budgets." Owenhan said The "Several Opinions" centered on the "four expansions" to give researchers greater autonomy in the use of funds: expand the autonomy of budget preparation, expand the autonomy of budget adjustments, expand the scope of the funding contract system, expand the autonomy of the retention of surplus funds, and allow scientific researchers Let go of your hands and feet to avoid problems such as rushing to spend money.

  Owenhan said that this time the "Several Opinions" also played a "combined punch" to make the use of scientific research funds more flexible and to encourage scientific researchers to start their own businesses:

  "You can make money if you have money": Increase the proportion of indirect expenses, the proportion of indirect expenses below 5 million yuan, the proportion of indirect expenses will never exceed 20% to 30%, and the proportion of 5 million to 10 million yuan will never exceed 15% to 25%. The part above 10 million yuan never exceeds 13% to 20%; for pure theoretical basic research projects such as mathematics, the proportion of indirect costs is further increased to no more than 60%; the project undertaker can use all the indirect costs for performance expenditures.

  "Wealth should be paid": The scope of labor expenses has been expanded, and the housing provident fund of project employees is included in labor expenses. In other words, the "five insurances and one fund" of scientific research project employees can be included in scientific research funds.

  Preventing “the money can’t be paid”: When allocating performance wages by central universities, research institutes, and enterprises, they must give priority to scientific researchers who have undertaken more national scientific research tasks and have outstanding results, and explore the urgent needs, industry recognition, and outstanding performance. A small number of high-level talents implement an annual salary system.

  Adopt three major supervision and inspection mechanisms to ensure the safe use of scientific research funds management

  With the continuous loosening of scientific research funding management policies, how to improve the safety and effectiveness of funding becomes more and more important.

  In this regard, Owenhan said that in strengthening the supervision of scientific research funds, the financial department has taken a series of measures in conjunction with relevant departments in recent years, and has achieved certain results.

However, there are still some cases of illegal use of scientific research funds, such as false reimbursements, signing of false collaboration contracts, etc., which not only affect the development of science and technology, but also damage the image of scientific researchers and cause bad social impact.

In response to these issues, the "Several Opinions" further improve the supervision and inspection mechanism in terms of supervision and inspection methods, supervision and inspection responsibilities, and application of supervision and inspection results:

  First, in terms of supervision and inspection methods, it is emphasized to strengthen the thorough coordination of audit supervision, financial and accounting supervision and daily supervision by the competent department, and strengthen supervision and joint force.

Innovate the methods of supervision and inspection, implement random inspections and inspections, and promote the collection and sharing of supervision and inspection data and mutual recognition of results.

Reduce process inspections, make full use of information technology such as big data, and improve the efficiency of supervision and inspection.

  The second is to strengthen the legal person responsibility of the project undertaking unit in terms of supervision and inspection responsibilities. The project undertaking unit must dynamically monitor the use of funds and provide real-time warnings.

  Third, in terms of the application of supervision and inspection results, the untrustworthiness of the project undertaking units and scientific research personnel in the management and use of scientific research funds shall be included in the management of credit records, and accountability and punishment shall be imposed on serious untrustworthy behaviors.

  "Strengthening supervision does not mean restricting the hands and feet of scientific researchers." Owenhan said that the "Several Opinions" have clearly stated that it is necessary to explore and formulate relevant negative lists and clarify the prohibition of sexual behaviors in the use of scientific research projects. The relevant departments must comply with laws and regulations. The negative list is inspected, reviewed, accepted, and audited. Researchers who are conscientious and fault-free are exempted from liability, conform to the law of scientific research activities, and effectively reduce the burden on scientific researchers.

  "Prescribe the right medicine" in three aspects, so that it is no longer difficult for scientific researchers to reimburse

  The cumbersome reimbursement of scientific research funds is considered a major "pain point" of scientific research funding management, which consumes valuable time and energy of scientific research personnel.

  Owenhan said that the "Several Opinions" adhere to the problem-oriented approach, focus on the difficulties and blockages in the reimbursement of funds, prescribe the right remedy, and make precise efforts to reduce the burden of reimbursement of scientific researchers from three aspects:

  The first is to fully equip scientific research financial assistants to allow professional people to do professional things.

According to the situation reflected in the survey, most units have established a research and financial assistant team, but there is also an imbalance between units and projects.

The "Several Opinions" clearly stated that it is necessary to fully implement the scientific research financial assistant system, ensure that each project is equipped with a relatively fixed scientific research financial assistant, and provide professional services for scientific research personnel in terms of budget preparation and fund reimbursement. Spend energy on reimbursement of research funding.

  The second is to improve the management of financial reimbursement, and effectively solve the problems of “finding tickets” and “posting tickets” for scientific research personnel.

The project undertaking unit continues to improve the financial reimbursement management method, which is an effective way to solve the cumbersome reimbursement of scientific researchers.

For example, when the project undertaking unit hosts a conference, it can reimburse domestic and foreign experts, scholars, and related personnel's transportation expenses in the conference fee.

In addition, the project undertaking unit can implement a lump-sum system, including domestic travel expenses, food subsidies, city transportation, and accommodation expenses that are difficult to obtain invoices.

  The third is to promote paperless reimbursement, allowing digital information to run more, and scientific researchers to run less errands.

To reduce the burden of reimbursement for scientific research personnel, it is also necessary to make full use of information technology.

The "Several Opinions" proposed to strengthen the informatization construction of scientific research funds reimbursement, clearly promote the pilot of paperless reimbursement of scientific research funds, select some central universities, scientific research institutes, and enterprises, and include them in the scope of the promotion of electronic accounting data standards to promote scientific research. The digital and paperless reimbursement of funds will effectively reduce the burden of reimbursement for scientific researchers.

  Get through the policy implementation "last mile"

  The reform of scientific research funding management requires all parties to work together to effectively implement the implementation and enhance the "sense of gain" of scientific research personnel.

  In this regard, Owenhan said that in order to get through the "last mile" of the policy implementation, the "Several Opinions" took multiple measures, clarified the responsible departments and units for implementation, and clarified specific implementation requirements from three aspects:

  The first is to clean up and revise relevant regulations in a timely manner.

These regulations not only involve departmental regulations and methods, such as the national key R&D plan, the National Natural Science Foundation and other central fiscal science and technology plan funds management methods, and the social science research project fund management methods, but also include the internal management methods of the project undertaker, such as Indirect cost management, scientific research financial assistant system, etc.

  The second is to increase policy publicity and training.

In terms of propaganda, it is necessary to realize the combination of tradition and innovation. Through portals, new media, and opening of columns, the promotion of policies related to the management of central financial research funds should be increased.

In the training, it is necessary to realize the combination of special topics and daily routines, so that scientific research personnel, financial personnel, scientific research financial assistants, and auditors can fully understand and understand policies and measures.

  The third is to strengthen the supervision and guidance of policy implementation.

The General Office of the State Council strengthened supervision.

All localities should also follow the spirit of the "Several Opinions" and combine actual conditions to accelerate the implementation of reform measures for scientific research project funding management, and form a situation where the upper and lower sides are linked together and the country is a game of chess to ensure that the reform is effective.

  (Our newspaper, Beijing, August 19, by our reporter Yuan Yufei)

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