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Corruption Allegations Rock Australia's CSIRO

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the say-it-aint-so dept.

Australia 112

An anonymous reader writes "Australia's premiere government research organization, the CSIRO, has been rocked by allegations of corruption including: dishonesty with 60 top-class scientists bullied or fired, fraud against drug giant Novartis, and illegally using intellectual property, faking documents and unreliable testimony to judicial officers. CSIRO boss Megan Clark has refused to discipline the staff responsible and the federal police don't want to get involved. Victims are unimpressed and former CSIRO scientists are calling for an inquiry."

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Terrible (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43446397)

They need to round up this lot of criminals and send them to an island!

Re:Terrible (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447099)

Just in case somebody was napping on their history classes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_australia#Convicts_and_colonial_society [wikipedia.org]

Re:Terrible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447813)

I'm always surprised the USA isn't full of hairdressers, middle managers and telephone sanitizers.

Re:Terrible (1)

AlamedaStone (114462) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447925)

I'm always surprised the USA isn't full of hairdressers, middle managers and telephone sanitizers.

Isn't it?

Re:Terrible (2)

Macgrrl (762836) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448949)

I'm always surprised the USA isn't full of hairdressers, middle managers and telephone sanitizers.

I thought it was.

Re:Terrible (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451291)

My mother was a telephone sanitizer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Terrible (2)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447901)

Yep. All the stupid convicts that got caught first got sent to the US.
The craftier convicts that could figure out how to avoid capture eventually got sent to Australia. :)

Re:Terrible (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448429)

Yep. All the stupid convicts that got caught first got sent to the US.
The craftier convicts that could figure out how to avoid capture eventually got sent to Australia. :)

In 1810, if you stole a loaf of bread, you got sent to Australia. If you raped or murdered they'd keep you locked up in Britain.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449889)

Finally, an explanation for the existence of the Conservative party.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449943)

Yeah that makes sense, let's keep the worst people when we just as easily get rid of them instead.

Re:Terrible (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448659)

No point doing that since a disturbingly large number of Americans know so little about their own history that they run around in period costume pretending that George Washington was the sort of guy that would want to crown Koch as King. I'll be they think President Johnson was a famous basketball player.

Re:Terrible (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451307)

they think President Johnson was a famous basketball player

In all fairness, he did have a helluva hook shot.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447209)

They need to round up this lot of criminals and send them to an island!

Yes, send them to an island on the opposite side of the world, let's say England.

Re:Terrible (2)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447445)

They need to round up this lot of criminals and send them to an island!

Yes, send them to an island on the opposite side of the world, let's say England.

That practically makes sense. The Brits would finally see sunshine, and the criminals would be surrounded by a moat and under constant CCTV surveillance. Blow up the Chunnel, and you're done.

Re:Terrible (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447449)

The Brits would finally see sunshine ...

Assuming the Brits and criminals swapped islands, I meant.

Re:Terrible (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447235)

They need to round up this lot of criminals and send them to an island!

I believe we called this "an idempotent operator" in my math classes.

Re:Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447291)

Not nearly punishment enough --- unless, perhaps, the island was some sort of hellish inhospitable wasteland chock full of the world's most deadly venomous critters.

Re: Terrible (1)

grcumb (781340) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447727)

So... Manhattan, then?

Re: Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447849)

let's not stray too far into "cruel and unusual" sadism.

Re:Terrible (2)

SJ (13711) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448695)

Q. Why did Australia get all the criminals, while the US got all the religious nuts?
A. Australia won the coin flip....

Patent troll (0)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446435)

Patent trolls are trolls.

Re:Patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43446475)

sports cars are cars

Re:Patent troll (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43446573)

If you're calling CSIRO a patent troll, I think you need to have a closer look. As a govt research body, the money they actually make from patents goes into MORE research (unlike actual patent trolls).

Re:Patent troll (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446671)

If you're calling CSIRO a patent troll, I think you need to have a closer look. As a govt research body, the money they actually make from patents goes into MORE research (unlike actual patent trolls).

I think the problem is that the new director may be turning CSIRO into a patent troll...

Re:Patent troll (4, Interesting)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447765)

All pseudo-government organisations in this country have been forced to fund themselves to some degree by economic rationalism (neoliberalism) in successive governments . In the case of the CSIRO this means directly exploiting the patentable inventions they come up with rather than those inventions being for the greater good as it was in years of old. I fully expect CSIRO now spends more time chasing things with higher potential returns rather than greater public utility. I cannot fault the CSIRO for adapting although I do lament the good ol' days. I can think of far more odious examples of exploitation of dubious intellectual 'property' triggered by the same policies.

Re:Patent troll (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448213)

the good ol' days

Like back in the 50-60's when their scientists were questioning the wisdom of exploding nukes in the backyard? One particular scientist showed that plutonium was getting into sheep and children, he was not only censured by CSIRO managers but also the government MP's and the military, he went to the press and it got worse for him before it got better.

This particular scandal seems to revolve around a particular ladder climbing bully running one department rather than systemic corruption or government oppression. I'm not trying to excuse the behavior but these sort of scandals have going on at the CSIRO since it was first commissioned ~100yrs ago. I would be less trusting of the CSIRO as an organization if we never heard anything like this in the news.

Summary: Most of the CSIRO patents deserve to be patents, the bully will not survive regardless of what the head of the organization says today.

Re:Patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449919)

"higher potential returns rather than greater public utility"

Because (public?) utility may be measured in something other than profit?

Profit is the best measure of benefit to society: how much savings/income are free individuals willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the good or service to their standard of living.

The entire CSIRO (and all other government "investments") are perfect examples of Harry Brownes famous quote:

Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk."

Re:Patent troll (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451305)

Profit is the best measure of benefit to society: how much savings/income are free individuals willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the good or service to their standard of living.
Real-estate bubbles the world over demonstrate the foolishness and fallacy of this position.

Re:Patent troll (1)

nebosuke (1012041) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453859)

Real-estate bubbles the world over demonstrate the foolishness and fallacy of this position.

Your statement is ambiguous, but I assume that you are implying that real-estate bubbles were bad for society, but that you believe that profitability as a measure would judge them to be good for society, therefore profitability is a poor measure of benefit to society.

If the above is an accurate representation of your argument, then my response would be that your argument is based on a misunderstanding of profitability.

The question you have to ask is whether the net effect of the bubble created by government policy was a profit or loss for society. If the net effect was negative (i.e., not profitable), as in the case of the most recent housing bubble in the US, then the actual effect of those policies that contributed to the bubble were bad as measured by profitability.

Re:Patent troll (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446809)

If you're calling CSIRO a patent troll, I think you need to have a closer look. As a govt research body, the money they actually make from patents goes into MORE research (unlike actual patent trolls).

You would think an organization that guards its patents so aggressively would at least honor other peoples IP.

Please click the third link in the story.

Re:Patent troll (0, Flamebait)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447085)

If I recall correctly CSIRO are the guys who claimed to employ the scientist who invented wifi and proceeded to tell the whole world how this great Australian invention had been ripped off by nasty companies who just didn't want to give them their fair dues. The reality of course is that nobody in particular invented wifi, it was the result of many standards committees and donated technologies from lots of companies, and CSIRO was in fact just a patent troll.

Re:Patent troll (4, Informative)

daffmeister (602502) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447469)

DIdn't they claim to have invented a particular (and difficult) aspect of recovering a clean signal from a noisy environment? (the noise being largely additional reflections of the initial signal). I believe the general consensus was that this was patent-worthy and worthy of recompense.

Re:Patent troll (2)

dyfortune (1985304) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447589)

I don't believe they claimed to invent wifi but claimed to invent the algorithm which wifi uses to overcome the issue it had with severe packet loss, without this algorithm wifi would be next to useless.

Wifi Submarine Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448111)

Meh. Patent claims are very specifically worded. If someone hits you with a patent before you design a system you can easily design around it so you don't violate it. The CSIRO didn't pull their big throbbing patent out of their pants until Wifi was already boxed and in the stores.

Not a Submarine Patent (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448679)

Not a submarine patent - it just took a bit over a decade to go from polite requests to court orders which may be why you were not aware of it.

Re:Patent troll (4, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447773)

You don't have to do a lot of research [wikipedia.org] to find get the real story rather than just relaying some of the overzealous misinformation that has gone on about this. They never said that they invented 802.11 WiFi, merely that it used some of their patented technology.

And unlike patent trolls who use submarine patents, the CSIRO and the IEEE actually discussed the use of the patent prior to its inclusion in the standard, at which time the CSIRO said they would make non-exclusive licenses available to implementers of the standard on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

uh-huh (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448175)

And yet here is the other side of the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_inventions [wikipedia.org]

Wi-Fi being on that list.

CSIRO talks out of two sides of its mouth. It wants to take credit for Wi-Fi. They promote themselves this way, and you even see the Science Minister of Australia (Evans) stating "It's hard to imagine an Australian-invented technology that has had a greater impact on the way we live and work".

But then in technical circles where they face informed response, they play things down.

And no, CSIRO did not discuss with IEEE the use of the patent prior to its inclusion in the standard. The standard was published in 1997 and CSIRO didn't pipe up until later. They were not even on the 802.11 committee. This is standard submarine trolling.

And their FRAND terms? They wanted $4 per device. This would amount to more than the entire cost of a WiFi chip.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/04/how-the-aussie-government-invented-wifi-and-sued-its-way-to-430-million/ [arstechnica.com]

Re:uh-huh (4, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448583)

CSIRO talks out of two sides of its mouth. It wants to take credit for Wi-Fi.

Is it that they want to take credit, or do other people keep giving them credit. By the same token you could say that they want to be called a patent troll just because some people call them that!

And no, CSIRO did not discuss with IEEE the use of the patent prior to its inclusion in the standard. The standard was published in 1997 and CSIRO didn't pipe up until later. They were not even on the 802.11 committee. This is standard submarine trolling.

The CSIRO patent was first used with 802.11a, which was published in 1999. The '97 standard could only do a rather slow 2Mbit/s, a flaw that the patent helped fix. And they did discuss it with CSIRO prior to its release. From the Wikipedia entry that I cited:

In 1998 it became apparent that the CSIRO patent would be pertinent to the standard. In response to a request from Victor Hayes of Lucent Technologies, who was Chair of the 802.11 Working Group, CSIRO confirmed its commitment to make non-exclusive licenses available to implementers of the standard on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Cooper, Dennis (4 December 1998). "Letter to Mr V Hayes, Chair, IEEE P802.11" [ieee.org] (PDF). Retrieved 13 May 2012.

That letter is located on the IEEE website, and it confirms the date that appears on the scanned letter. And further to that, they had also built their own chip that implemented their technology (and went around trying to sell it to various companies), so that makes them even less like a patent troll, who usually don't have any way of implementing their own patents.

And their FRAND terms? They wanted $4 per device.

Which, as they said, was an opening offer and not one that they ever expected. Every time companies negotiate a figure they start high; that is pretty much a standard tactic.

The untold story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43451217)

A contributing factor is that CSIRO and Radiata royally shafted Macquarie University (MU) and the employees of Macquarie Research Limited (MRL), which provided engineers for the development of the WLAN project. Both downplay the role of MU/MRL, since a chunk of the IP was ripped off from MU/MRL. To clear the air, they would have to acknowledge the contribution of MU and the MRL employees.

From the mid 1990s to 1997 a combination of MRL employees and PhD students, in the Electronic Department of Macquarie Uni, carried the WLAN project forward. It was Macquarie Uni (via Prof Skellern) that was doing the representation on the standards committees. In 1997, the MU project got shutdown, at face value for a lack of funding. The MRL employees instantly got the sack, despite the fact that they had been employed long enough on a rolling basis that their fixed term contracts had converted to full-time employment. The grey nature of their employment status left questions over IP ownership. The PhD students continued their study on other projects. A few months later, Radiata was founded, and all the IP had magically transferred from Macquarie University to Radiata. The PhD students moved to Radiata and the old MRL employees were left in the cold.

After the Cisco acquisition, Macquarie Uni threatened legal action, and got its pound of flesh out of Cisco/Radiata. Being a wholly owned subsiduary of MU, there was no such pressure from MRL. The MRL employees got zip and had to watch others getting rich off their work. You'll notice in the list of names on the academic paper, "a high-speed Wireless LAN", that there are the names mentioned in the public history and then some more names. There's a heap of backslapping about "inventors" in CSIRO and "entrepreneurs" in Radiata, but the public history leaves MU/MRL out, since people are too embarassed to talk about it, and there is a chance someone might say "what about me?"

Re:uh-huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448623)

The standard post-dates the invention being fully disclosed via the patent system. A submarine patent involves not fully disclosing and continuing and modifying the patent so as to 'chase' the technology direction.

Standards do not override the patent system, and if the CSIRO was not involved in the standard creation process, then it cannot be held responsible for the patent being required to implement the standard. You are literally attributing CSIRO malice to someone elses stupidity.

Everyone that uses a patent without paying always claims the patent was obvious.

Re:Patent troll (0)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447337)

As a govt research body, the money they actually make from patents goes into MORE research (unlike actual patent trolls).

Um, you know that's the opposite of a defense, right? They're self-perpetuating patent trolls. Being unbound by the need to actually commercialize anything, they can shake down independent inventors who do commercialize products, and then take that money and do some more R&D, so that they can get another patent and use that to shake down the next implementer.

At least the typical patent troll will just go blow his money on coke, hookers and speedboats.

Re:Patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447559)

Public Oversight. I know this isn't a word Americans necessarily understand in the context of governments, so maybe asking you to look it up is too hard. Long story short; if what you said were necessarily true, NASA would be your worst enemy.

Incidentally, it was DataTrace who apparently committed the fraud... they claimed their product was manufactured by the CSIRO, when in fact they imported it from China.

Corrupt Country Australia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448059)

No oversight in Australia! There are no Whistleblowing laws so the politicians suggest one that would be giving themselves immunity. LOL! http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/26/labors-whistleblower-bill-just-window-dressing-without-an-overhaul/ [crikey.com.au] and police are in bed with crooks! http://www.accci.com.au/Corruption.htm [accci.com.au]

Re:Patent troll (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452337)

if what you said were necessarily true, NASA would be your worst enemy.

Tell me about the stack of patents NASA has created to exact money from industry, rather than to implement aerospace programs.

Re:Patent troll (1)

Visserau (2433592) | about a year and a half ago | (#43449619)

I think your hate has blinded you to the definition of troll. Using/defending a patent they created != trolling.

Re:Patent troll (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43452243)

I think your hate has blinded you to the definition of troll. Using/defending a patent they created != trolling.

Patenting research that was done without any plans to commercialize is harmful to society and contrary to the purpose of patents. Triply so if it's done by a government, against the interests of its people.

Re:Patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448023)

RTFA. It says the CSIRO suffered from the last director who de-emphasised research because he wanted to make it more like a company. They cut funding to research so they could focus on selling consulting services and getting deals with industry like the snake oil they sold to Novartis. The Wireless patent is what we call a submarine patent. If they declared it up front, standard bodies would have just designed around it. Instead they wait until the technology is widespread and suddenly reveal it and send patent troll lawyers to enforce it. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/04/how-the-aussie-government-invented-wifi-and-sued-its-way-to-430-million.ars [arstechnica.com]

Re:Patent troll (1)

deek (22697) | about a year and a half ago | (#43449441)

The FA (second linked article) matches your first few claims. It doesn't mention anything about the wireless patent. I'm not sure why you claim it is a submarine patent. It's established that the standard body were well aware of the patent when they created the standard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_Scientific_and_Industrial_Research_Organisation#802.11_patent [wikipedia.org]

The CSIRO has, right from the start, tried to uphold the patent. It tried firstly by discussion. After years of this, presumably to try and keep the lawyers out of it, they got fed up and then started to sue. http://blog.patentology.com.au/2012/04/story-behind-csiros-wi-fi-patent.html [patentology.com.au]

Your Ars Technica article mentions that the CSIRO tried sending letters to "28 different wireless companies", in 2003/2004. The article is very much biased against the CSIRO, but even it does not try to claim this was a submarine patent.

Re:Patent troll (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447315)

Trolls are trolls. Patents are just the modern version of a club for certain trolls.

The.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43446451)

...we blackmail all wifiproducers with a trivialpatent-company has corruption issues? Now, that's hard to belive. Go DIAF.

It looks bad (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446539)

The links in the summary are kind of scattered (the claim of 60 bullied scientists appears in the third link, for example). Here is a quote from one of the articles:

Researchers feel ''sliced and diced'' and ''disempowered'', the reviews say, by the need to adhere to what paying customers want.

So it seems that CSIRO got a new director, and, not having enough funds, this new guy started operating the research group like a business, focusing on outside revenue from other companies. Of course, this made it hard to do science, especially since the director wasn't a particularly good director. The scientists almost are turned in to sales people. So it seems kind of bad.

It's a matter of 'not enough money' then 'getting money from the wrong sources' causing motivations to go bad.

Re:It looks bad (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446837)

It is a matter of "not enough money" in the sense that if the government has limited the CSIRO's budget then they are forced to either downsize, or look for outside funding.

Re:It looks bad (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448241)

So it seems that CSIRO got a new director, and, not having enough funds, this new guy started operating the research group like a business, focusing on outside revenue from other companies. Of course, this made it hard to do science, especially since the director wasn't a particularly good director. The scientists almost are turned in to sales people. So it seems kind of bad.

My understanding was that instead of doing pure research, they were focusing on solutions to specific goals that were dictated by industry/clients.

They wanted to do basic research and couldn't.
Coupled with shitty matrix management and bullying, no wonder they're pissed.

Re:It looks bad (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43450657)

Not to forget the very thin skins of scientist types, known to get is quite a flat about perceived issues of Status. As for the Novartis, pretty bloody obvious the dirty players here are the private partner over hyping and selling the technology and Novatris obviously trying to shift fault from the private company with limited fiscal resources and on to the Australian government for the major revenue gaining law suit (must be losing as it is now pushing the bad publicity angle).

As for operating like a business the previous conservative government are the ones that fucked it all up, don't think so. Think about agricultural research and researching and introducing a natural control agent. Millions go out in research, you save billions in pest control losses but you have to give it away free and can not sell it to a private and politically friendly corporation who then on sells it for billions in profits. Hence the project does not generate a profit and must be killed off. Stupid short term thinking brought to you by greed driven ignorance.

CSIRO research should be non-profit free to public access with patent fees outside of Australia. With focus on non-profit generating by high cost saving solutions. Something private industries obviously will never fucking pay for, hence the need for government funding.

Re:It looks bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43451789)

That's a good summary.

What you are missing - CSIRO is now forced to get X% (I forget what X is) from industry. So a company goes to CSIRO, and say "we can get consultants to do this work, or your staff can work as consultants for X, and the government will pitch in to help us fund our R&D". So instead of acting as a research center, CSIRO is being pushed to become a tax-payer subsidized body-shop.

This looks bad... (4, Funny)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446629)

You guys need to get your government under control. Get with your boards of directors and insist on a proper budget for buying "compliant" government officials. I, know, it's painful sometimes, but it's the price of doing business. They payoff is that we can do just about anything we want and with a little more money thrown at the right political campaigns, and the stupid voters will stay focused on stupid shit like gay marriage and leave us alone. So get it done. We can't have the people thinking that they actually control things. Not now.

+1 Funny Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43446899)

Well played.

Government Fraud out of control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448063)

A code of silence surrounds graft accusations in Canberra, writes Linton Besser. The Australian Federal Police, which concentrates on drug trafficking and counter-terrorism, is reluctant to deal with Commonwealth fraud matters.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service-keeps-fraud-cases-private-20110923-1kpdr.html [smh.com.au]

Re:This looks bad... (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448519)

You guys need to get your government under control.

The problem with this that the government has continually shrunk funding for CSIRO and as a result CSIRO has been forced to rely on other sources of funding. This means they spend more time and resources on securing revenue than doing actual science. To lack of government funding is directly behind this.

and the stupid voters will stay focused on stupid shit like gay marriage

Gay Marriage is actually an important issue. 50 years ago your country discriminated people based on skin colour, these days you do the same thing based on sexual preference. Taking a stand against this kind of idiocy should be a top priority for any free society (liberty, fraternity, equality and all that bollocks).

In Australia the stupid voters are caught on backburner issues like Asylum seekers, MRRT and the Carbon Tax. The opposition leader spends more time banging the hate drum against the current prime minister than actually promoting what he stands for. Few Australians are concerned about science and technology, creating new industry or ensuring that our education system remains amongst the best in the world (all three of which have long term economic benefits, but seeing as its not "stopping the boats" the average mouth breather doesn't care).

As far as I can tell, the only policy that Tony Abbott has is to hate Julia Gillard, but because it's popular to hate Julia Gillard it's paying off for him (much to the detriment of Australia, I'm not Gillard's biggest fan but Tony Abbott is going to be far worse).

Re:This looks bad... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#43454355)

Gosh, perhaps I was a bit too hard on your corporate powers. They seem to be putting forth a sound effort to advance their own interests and to distract voters with BS issues. My apologies.
BTW, any thinking person knows that gay marriage is an important issue. It's just that the rest of the voters seem to think that it's important for all the wrong reasons.

Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (0)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446815)

Judging by the SMH article, the problems started when a new director came in and started to run the place like a corporation instead of a research facility.

It would appear the CSIRO is - along with the ACCC, and others - another victim of the Howard neocons. New Labor being nearly indistinguishable in this regard, have just kept the ball rolling.

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447573)

Megan Clark was installed as Director under Labor in 2009. While you might want to cast some blame howards way for funding cutbacks, the mess didn't really start till labor took over.

reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448959)

why is the public service like a septic tank? because the biggest s**** rise to the top!!!!!!

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (2)

sjwt (161428) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447733)

And that would make you another Labor revisionist?

2009 - Labor was in power...

Seen all those ads on TV from Labor about how the Liberals were denying the GFC? It was Labor who said 'We are not in a recession' when the Liberals were talking about the GFC and how it hit Australia.. The only thing that saved us was Liberals hard saved cash that Labor spent.

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448611)

revisionist?

the only revisionism here is your post.

Seen all those ads on TV from Labor about how the Liberals were denying the GFC?

No, because they dont exist.

Stop getting your info from Murdoch.

We are not in a recession'

That's because we weren't in recession.

We experienced knock on effects from the GFC when it hit the US and Eurozone. We recovered within months whilst the US and Eurozone have been in actual recessions for the last 4 years.

The GFC never really hit Australia. Our economy has been growing since mid 2009 although a lot of idiots keep saying that it's going to hit us any minute now... Any minute now... We've dodged 20 of these recessions in the last year. Mostly because idiots dont actually know anything about the economy.

was Liberals hard saved cash

LoL, I guess you'd be an expert on revisionism.

The Liberals "hard saved" cash came from selling off public assets. Without selling off Telco assets and the airports, Howard would have left in debt. What Labor is spending is to build new public assets and fix systems that have been horribly broken under the previous Liberal government (notably Education and Health).

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (1)

barv (1382797) | about a year and a half ago | (#43450733)

That North Atlantic Banking Crisis (aka GFC) did not justify the incredible wastage by Batts, overpriced & unnecessary school (BER) buildings, and the $94 billion NBN, Thank God JH sold off Telstra and airports. Those places were hotbeds of union "regulatory capture" for wage rises. What we need is a Thatcher to stop all the union rorts.

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451153)

What we need is a Thatcher to stop all the union rorts.
Yeah. That overwhelming ~17% of the workforce that's unionised, mostly in average- to low-paying jobs like teaching and childcare, sure are "rorting" the system.
Like the other guy said, stop getting your new from Murdoch. All he wants to do is turn Australia into another America (and he's doing a bang-up job so far, thanks to useful idiots like you). If you want to live in America so badly, move there. It's pretty easy for Australians to emigrate.

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451441)

The GFC never really hit Australia. Our economy has been growing since mid 2009 although a lot of idiots keep saying that it's going to hit us any minute now... Any minute now... We've dodged 20 of these recessions in the last year. Mostly because idiots dont actually know anything about the economy.
Our time is coming. Or economy has been almost entirely hollowed out and the ridiculously high real estate prices have massively and unsustainably increased the cost of living, and are now putting a drag on the whole economy as retail struggles to survive. The only thing holding the whole shebang together is the ludicrously high currency.
In short, when the mining boom stops, we're fucked. It's going to be painful and, unfortunately, laid almost entirely at the feet of Labor, even though the Liberals are at least, if not more, culpable.
The Liberals "hard saved" cash came from selling off public assets. Without selling off Telco assets and the airports, Howard would have left in debt.
You forgot the structural deficit Howard's huge cash handouts and entrenched middle-class welfare left behind. Old Labor would have fixed that by cutting back on breeding payments and non-means-tested handouts and raising taxes, but New Labor is just Liberals Lite and thus continued those same unsustainable policies.

Re:Undoubtedly another Howard legacy (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451233)

And that would make you another Labor revisionist?
Fuck no. I haven't voted Labor since Keating. Since they've become nothing more than Liberals Lite, I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole. My political position is soft-left, and Labor hasn't been anywhere left of centre for a decade.

2009 - Labor was in power...
The rot started nearly ten years earlier. [smh.com.au]
"Some sheet home blame to CSIRO's former chief executive Geoff Garrett. Before his appointment in 2000, each division of the organisation directed its own science, and its leaders enjoyed utter autonomy. Garrett bombshelled these silos, introducing a corporate hierarchy that funnelled to him and to his entourage control over funds. With the money went control of the direction of the organisation."

Both the Liberals and New Labor follow the same neo-liberal economic/authoritarian social playbook that's been destroying western civilisation in the name of corporate greed for nearly three decades now. They are practically indistinguishable in their economic policies, though Labor at least having the minor preference of a) being responsible for nearly every positive economic and social improvement in Australian history and b) paying at least lip service to fulfilling the social contract of Government. The Liberals don't even try to pretend, anymore, that they're for anything except greater concentration of wealth amongst few, the gutting of public services and the socialisation of "big capital's" losses.

Solutions (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43446997)

Part of the job of CSIRO is to "deliver solutions for agribusiness", which basically means, "let Monsanto do whatever they want to whomever they want".

I'm pretty sure the opportunities for corruption are quite numerous.

"Let's do research into how wonderfully effective all the new genetically modified crops are and how we need to make sure nobody can grow a goddamn thing without paying a license fee. And look at this: Monsanto has sent scientists to help us!"

CSIRO in bed with MONSANTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448131)

Not my words. A CSIRO Director: "Yes, we do find that it is often the best strategy to get into bed with these companies". Fuck research. The CSIRO is a badly run company with zero accountability.

http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/mediacentre/media-releases/food/Greenpeace-calls-on-CSIRO-to-come-clean-on-commercial-relationships/ [greenpeace.org]

http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13325-csiro-in-bed-with-multinationals [gmwatch.org]

Re:Solutions (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448705)

It's not that simple and CSIRO have been in that field for decades before any supposed involvement with Monsanto.

Re:Solutions (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43449111)

But we don't live in "decades ago" and today CSIRO is in bed with the multinationals. Look at the comment before yours for cites.

Re:Solutions (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43449779)

No, I'm disputing your very narrow definition due to it ultimately being bullshit in the majority of cases. Even if it's true once the definition is too narrow if it's false a thousand other times.

Re:Solutions (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43451341)

No, I'm disputing your very narrow definition due to it ultimately being bullshit in the majority of cases. Even if it's true once the definition is too narrow if it's false a thousand other times.

An organization doesn't have to be corrupt every time in order to be corrupt.

That's how corruption works. You do what you're supposed to 95% of the time, but then the other 5% you really screw the pooch, morally. You're still corrupt. Through and through.

To put things in perspectice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447225)

dishonesty

OK, business as usual

fraud

No big deal really.

faking documents

Nothing wrong with that.

unreliable testimony

Unheard of.

illegally using intellectual property

ELEVENTY BAJILLION DOLLARS PLEASE.

Australia's research culture... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447259)

The allegations directed at the CSIRO are little different from what could be said about many Australian universities (speaking as a PhD graduate and post-doc of many years' experience in them). It's possible that the CSIRO problems are coming to light first because they have more senior academics; not just hoardes of PhD students and the occasional terrified post-doc.

In particular, it's common for low and mid-level people to be hired from overseas, come to Australia, and see their research stagnate due to lack of funding. New academics don't realise that when Australian positions have "grant writing" as part of the job description, they mean: "You must bring in ALL of your own money, dude, oh, and btw, hope you have better luck with that than ALL THE REST OF OUR DEPARTMENT!" These new people end up fiddling around with bits and pieces of their old research projects from former institutions while they're ground to dust lecturing a bazillion subjects. All of this is covered up by our glorious leaders in Administration who commission glossy brochures to explain how well we're doing in research.

Re:Australia's research culture... (3, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43448017)

Oh for a mod point or ten. I spent the first year of my faculty position scrambling to get funding, and now that I've got it I need to scramble to do research whilst also running classes. Between the dozen 'urgent' things to be done at any one time, I never get a chance to really sit and think hard about my research problems - I just have to hope that I hit on something novel and important when I'm in the shower and that a student then does it justice to get the papers out. It's shit and it makes our research shit.

Re:Australia's research culture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43452983)

Boy. I don't want to be insensitive, but you are describing my day job. I read this and all I can think of is Ghostbusters...."

Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything! You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results.

Seen it first hand (5, Interesting)

HuguesT (84078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43447371)

I'm not really at liberty to describe the research culture at CSIRO in great detail, but it is, or at least was, as the articles say, very application-driven and short-term, external-earning motivated. This was only in one division, I cannot speak for the whole of the organization, however these stories seem to indicate that the problem is widespread.

I was at CSIRO between the mid-1990 to the mid 2000, and I have seen it progressively become a very tough place to do research. I was very very happy to leave. I'm not a top researcher by any stretch of the imagination, and I was never bullied, although I did experience unpleasant conflict. Ever since I've left (for academia) I've been more free to conduct my research the way I wanted it, I have found that it is indeed easier to find funding (so far). Looking for funding first and doing skunk research second is a sure way to kill imagination and generate stress, dissatisfaction and mistrust, not to mention poor results. Scientists are not necessarily good salespeople (too frank). Basically CSIRO was (and apparently still is in some places) in some ways a toxic place for scientists.

I hope it improves. CSIRO is nowhere near the top 10 rank it seeks to achieve, at least in the areas I'm familiar with, but there are still very good people working there.

I didn't see bullying, but... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447815)

As a project staff person, I really enjoyed my time at CSIRO. I was working on a project that had some initial success but eventually wound up. The uni I'm working for now is no better for job security - still fixed term employment tied to the duration of whatever grant is propping things up at the time - but there seems to be less confusion about budget and more strategy (or even just acknowledgement) of how to deal with my current term ending. At CSIRO, every year, we would receive termination E-mails and be chasing up other work before we discover at the last minute we could hang around a bit longer if we wanted. And I know many of my colleagues were in a similar situation every year (or even more frequently!)

So, as much as I loved working with the people there, and as much as I found the work interesting, and as much as I know that higher-ups tried hard to improve this endless cycle of needless uncertainty - it gets increasingly difficult to remain fully committed to your work at an organisation where despite best intentions the net result is a feeling that you weren't important enough for your term to be sorted out in a more orderly fashion - so you know you'll be facing all that stress and anxiety, job interviews and perhaps having to decline offers again next year... I understand the matrix compounds this by decoupling funds from silos and so on but if the funds are in one place, you're employed in one division, and delivering to another... who is really making term renewal decisions? I certainly never met them! So it's no wonder I had a number of "which boss do I listen to" moments (all resolved, but still).

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448003)

CSIRO is not alone in this type of behavior.

For example, in the US, The Aerospace Corp. routinely and deliberately re-negs on promises made at acceptance of an in-writing offer for employment (Who would sue their new employer for breach of contract?). Then they carefully, and step-by-step, try to bottle up talent, so that those employees are no longer marketable as scientists, effectively trapping them in their job at Aerospace. If talent continues to be expressed, punishments follow. They breed mediocrity, punishing talent to benefit their "chosen" mediocre to continue "work."

They also increase space-launch costs substantially by stepping in with "all-in" efforts when there is a schedule delay in a scheduled rocket launch, and DoD-funded program managers that are hemorrhaging millions per day acquiesce to their intervention. They are a parasite, but that is a story for another time...

Working for Mr. Arsehole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448183)

One of the CSIRO eminent ex-scientists was lured out from the UK with a promise of blue-sky research, but found himself reporting to an untalented arsehole. He didn't know this until he'd quit his old job and the arsehole dropped in for tea. The areshole's superiors thought if they got a big name on his team then the arsehole might get better publicity. Instead of blue-sky research he found his new job was wiping the arsehole's arsehole.

Re:Seen it first hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449041)

The situation within CSIRO is certainly not unique as numerous other governments have tried to impose a business corporation structure upon their public research organizations. As I read the CSIRO articles they were eerily familiar to my decade long experiences working the DRDC (Defence R&D Canada). And, like CSIRO, poor moral, constant restructuring, matrix reporting and funding reductions pushed those who are talented to leave for greener pastures elsewhere. Public research has an important societal role, but for the last 10 - 20 years the governing political classes (G8) have held an ideology that was not supportive of this role.

Re:Seen it first hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43450885)

I was at CSIRO during the time period you describe and I had very similar experiences to yours. I was also glad to get out (I was sacked during a cost-cutting round. As a young researcher on a temporary contract (post-doc), there was no hope for me!) The level of the conflicts meant that the entire division ended up being decimated, with more than half the researchers being sacked/made redundant or leaving of their own free will. (This was the Clayton site around the year 2000. You can probably guess the division.) What was left was a dysfunctional bureaucracy and a few scared researchers. Melbourne University gained handsomely from the carnage as it hoovered up the best researchers. Many (like myself) also headed overseas.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

cavebison (1107959) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453649)

I'm not really at liberty to describe the research culture at CSIRO in great detail, but it is, or at least was, as the articles say, very application-driven and short-term, external-earning motivated. This was only in one division, I cannot speak for the whole of the organization, however these stories seem to indicate that the problem is widespread.

Sounds like the culture needs improving, but I don't hear anything in there about "fraud", "corruption" or any other "illegal" goings-on, as the article suggests.

CSI RO ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447385)

I must have missed that one. I thought the NY one was the best, especially after Grissom left the original series.

Serves you right, fuckers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43447389)

You should have had enough money to run the place just off your Wi-Fi licenses, you inbred koala-fuckers.

Psychopaths in middle level management is common. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448139)

Psychopaths in middle level management is a common problem for all large organisations and the CSIRO is no exception. They tend to accumulate as they drive out decent humans so eventually the organisation's integrity starts to break down. The CSIRO needs a massive dose of ethical purgative to drive out these parasites before they do any more harm.

Re: Psychopaths in middle level management is comm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448837)

Perhaps, but my experience with scientists (and I've worked with a lot of scientists , currently physicists) is that, as a group, they're at least as ethically challenged as their managers. The image of the Noble Scholar they like to present publicly is laughable, typically they're about as ethical as used car salesmen and politicians. It's no surprise the public is becoming more and more skeptical of the claims and pronouncements of science and the scientific community. They have every good reason to be.

Re: Psychopaths in middle level management is comm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449675)

Being a scientist does not mean you are "not a psychopath".

On Par For Oz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43448469)

Just Australia.

And you though You wanted to live there !

Incorrect responses to unfair ecosystem. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449409)

Posting as AC because I currently work at CSIRO. I've made my views known many times during employee surveys and reviews, this isn't new to CSIRO but I hope it is informative to the public.

The government has been cutting our funding progressively for a long time. They announce brand new funding agreements that are "amazing" increases, whilst not-announcing on-going small cuts to our funding between agreements. This is basically death by a thousand cuts, with a band-aid applied every 50 or so.

Our organisation makes up the slack by raising and re-raising the amount of "external contributions" required for each division. This basically means, if we don't have an industry partner the project doesn't go ahead. On top of this, the amount of overhead is ridiculous meaning 50% of external funding required may actually mean 6 times the salary of the scientists actually doing the work is required for any project to go ahead. How on earth is science meant to occur with that kind of investment disincentive.

The organisation also has never-ending red tape and administration. This means the top scientists, on the top wages, are spending sometimes over 75% of their time on paperwork. SIP planning, milestone reports, presentations, etc. To hire a new staff member can take over 3 months and require days of work by a manager just to form the proposal to request permission to produce a position description to be advertised. Most of this administration has come out of great "ideas" to minimise administration. A new system to do something is a daily occurrence and that system failing or requiring more than double the original effort is common place.

The last two points combine into a research destroying monster. Administration takes up the time of the best scientists, which must be made up through multipliers in externally funded research. The best scientists then can't work on the research because they are busy doing administration tasks to try and set up the next big project. The end result is frustrated scientists, under-performing research programs and a bloated organisation.

The only cure is to drastically cut red-tape, and reduce the number of people in management roles. The organisation needs to de-couple funding and employment and let a group of people find the money, while another group of people do the research. But this wont happen, and every attempt to achieve the objectives usually results in another grand system which just adds to the monolith of red-tape.

With all that said, CSIRO is full of amazing people who work incredibly hard. Most work, and aren't compensated, for long hours above and beyond their employment to achieve the science they aspire to achieve with the organisational burdens they carry. Even management is working hard to improve all these problems and work with what they have. Incredible research is getting done and most of my co-workers are proud to claim they work for CSIRO and dream of the day when all this bloat is finally removed.

Unfortunately, I do not see how this will occur with the current thinking. The government is not interested in increasing the money or paying for the overhaul required to improve efficiency. There are vested interests who want CSIRO to be cut up and sold off, and they are achieving more progress in their goals than the scientists are. This is evident in the one-sided, over-stated, under-substantiated news coverage that CSIRO gets. Certain newspapers are very blatant about their hatred for CSIRO and find allies from the right who enjoy offsetting budget deficits by selling assets.

The organisation is amazing but is sick. It has gangrenous limbs that need to be amputated, and is regularly being attacked by viruses who want to see it dead. What it needs is public support for the scientists and the organisation as a whole so that we can unplug life-support, get out of our hospital bed, and back out into the world, kicking ass and taking names (in the name of science)!

Re:Incorrect responses to unfair ecosystem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449715)

This is another case of where the people at the top have to be "better" than the ones under them and also get the high pay. A good programmer can make $120k to $150k a year but you don't wan't the best programmer doing the management when you can get a far better manager for $50k a year. A good manager has to manage all resources and take care of the red tape and you don't want your best employee doing that. I'm convinced that for every $400k in salary to very talented people, I can invest $40k in a PA to make their lives easier.

Government thugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449561)

Did you expect a government department to behave within the confines of the law?

Nothing new here. Just another bunch of cronies who live at the expense of others via the state's monopoly on violence instead of earning their income from paying customers trading freely in the market place.

THREATEN! THREATEN! THREATEN! (-1, Offtopic)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43449781)

CSIRO-linked company DataDot also said it was concerned about the leak of confidential information, saying it appears to have been made ‘‘by a person disgruntled with the CSIRO and ... not from anyone currently employed by DataTrace or DataDot’’.Nevertheless, the company apologises unreservedly for this breach of confidentiality and reserves its rights against the person causing the breach.’’ http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/shares-tumble-after-csirolinked-company-announces-inquiry-20130415-2hum1.html [theage.com.au] datadat should care about TEN YEARS JAIL FOR FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!! but maybe hope lard arses at AFP wont climb out of chairs

Laws and penalties for Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43449949)

Instead of blaming down the whistle blower the CSIRO and Datadot should be reading up on fraud. This is serious stuff

How The CSIRO Defrauded Novartis - http://www.insidetasmania.com/2013/04/how-csiro-defrauded-novartis.html

CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 192G Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement

192G Intention to defraud by false or misleading statement

A person who dishonestly makes or publishes, or concurs in making or publishing, any statement (whether or not in writing) that is false or misleading in a material particular with the intention of:

        (a) obtaining property belonging to another, or

        (b) obtaining a financial advantage or causing a financial disadvantage,

is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.

CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 192D - Obtaining financial advantage or causing financial disadvantage

192D Obtaining financial advantage or causing financial disadvantage

        (1) In this Part, "obtain" a financial advantage includes:

                (a) obtain a financial advantage for oneself or for another person, and

                (b) induce a third person to do something that results in oneself or another person obtaining a financial advantage, and

                (c) keep a financial advantage that one has,

        whether the financial advantage is permanent or temporary.

        (2) In this Part,

        "cause" a financial disadvantage means:

                (a) cause a financial disadvantage to another person, or

                (b) induce a third person to do something that results in another person suffering a financial disadvantage,

        whether the financial disadvantage is permanent or temporary.

CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 192B 192B Deception

        (1) In this Part, "deception" means any deception, by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law, including:

                (a) a deception as to the intentions of the person using the deception or any other person, or

                (b) conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.

        (2) A person does not commit an offence under this Part by a deception unless the deception was intentional or reckless.

CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 192E Fraud 192E Fraud

        (1) A person who, by any deception, dishonestly:

                (a) obtains property belonging to another, or

                (b) obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage,

        is guilty of the offence of fraud.

                Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

        (2) A person’s obtaining of property belonging to another may be dishonest even if the person is willing to pay for the property.

        (3) A person may be convicted of the offence of fraud involving all or any part of a general deficiency in money or other property even though the deficiency is made up of any number of particular sums of money or items of other property that were obtained over a period of time.

        (4) A conviction for the offence of fraud is an alternative verdict to a charge for the offence of larceny, or any offence that includes larceny, and a conviction for the offence of larceny, or any offence that includes larceny, is an alternative verdict to a charge for the offence of fraud.

Why isnt this in the Australian news? (1)

barv (1382797) | about a year and a half ago | (#43450709)

Oh. I guess it doesn't suit the powers that be that this subject be a topic for discussion. It might reflect badly on the Labour Party (= Democrat).

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