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  5. Characteristics and Issues of Japan’s Public Support System for Research and Development: An Analysis for Effective Use of Public Research Funds

2009 Vol.3
Characteristics and Issues of Japan’s Public Support System for Research and Development: An Analysis for Effective Use of Public Research Funds

2009/07/01

A series of misuses of public funds for research and development revealed in recent years has raised suspicion that public research funds, whose amount has increased rapidly under policies aiming at Japan’s superiority in science and technology, are not being used effectively.
Responding to this situation, the government published guidelines to eliminate unreasonable overlaps and excessive concentration in the distribution of research funds. As a result, a tendency to simply avoid overlaps has emerged.
In this context, this investigative research begins with the hypothesis that the existence of cases of ineffective use of public research funds derives not simply from the overlap and concentration phenomenon, but from a spontaneous occurrence of the phenomenon. That is, this paper takes the position that the overlaps and concentration of funds created purposefully for important research topics can be efficient and effective.
As this paper explains, the results of the performance evaluations of past, publicly funded research projects are not reflected in reviews conducted to determine the distribution of public research funds and thus are not effectively utilized, which is why the overlap and concentration phenomenon occurs spontaneously. This is caused by three problems found in the evaluation system, in the linkage between evaluations and reviews, and in the review process.
Lastly, solutions for the problems are proposed, including reexamining current evaluation categories and making past evaluation results (even from other programs) readily available for the review process. In addition, the appointment of program officers or program directors is recommended in order that the existing review process appropriately reflects the intention of the funding programs, while evaluations center on external assessments.

Report