The main federal systems of Brazilian research, the Lattes and Carlos Chagas platforms, have been in a blackout since Friday (23 ) after a failure in the technology field. The problem impacts routine processes related to research promotion, such as payment, scholarship renewals and accountability.
The two systems are the responsibility of the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development), Responsible for promoting research in the country. The body is linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The Lattes platform is a database with all the CVs of researchers. Actions such as the approval of scholarships depend on consulting Lattes. On the other hand, through the Carlos Chagas platform, public calls and notices to promote research, management and payment of scholarships are made operational.
About 24 one thousand researchers are financed with CNPq resources. In addition, other bodies, such as Capes (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) and development agencies linked to state governments, also carry out operations with the aid of the Lattes platform.
The CNPq published a note in which he admits the error, which would have been identified on Saturday (24). The systems have been out of the air for four days now, but not yet for reset.
The board says deadlines are suspended and will be extended. Scholarship payments will not be affected, according to the government.
“The problem that caused the unavailability of the systems has already been diagnosed in partnership with contractors and the procedures for its repair have been started”, he says note from the organ.
There are fears among researchers and council officials that the problem will lead to loss of information. When questioned, the body denies that this risk exists and says that “there are backups whose contents are supporting the restoration” of the systems.
“The CNPq already has new IT equipment and the data migration was started before what happened”, says the note.
Even the internal CNPq email is down. Only the agency’s website is still in operation because it is hosted on the server central of the federal government.
There are still no details on the cause of the blackout. Information collected from employees indicates that a device was burned from equipment that has the function of controlling the servers where the platforms are located This failure would have occurred during the migration to new equipment.
In an email obtained by the report, a CNPq employee reports that the problem reached the main server of the organization. of the warranty and without a maintenance contract, which would prevent an immediate repair and would bring the need to hire an external company.
Employees also point to the lack of maintenance in this infrastructure. The budgetary pressure that the body is experiencing under the Jair Bolsonaro government (no party) and also in the past administration, by Michel Temer (MDB).
“The agency is paralyzed. With the platforms unavailable, we could do practically nothing”, says Roberto Muniz, director of the National Union of Public Managers in Science and Technology and president of the CNPq Server Association.
“May have a failure occurred by chance, but equipment of this nature cannot be allowed to have maintenance and warranty contracts.”
The need for renewal of CNPq’s operating systems is a recurring issue within the organization by less since 2015, according to Muniz and members of the research sector. Most technology services are provided by third parties.
Folha, the minister of Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, said that the resolution of the failure has been led by the CNPq so that there is normality in the coming days. “There are no budget problems, just a question of maintenance time for the return”, he said.
The SBPC (Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science) received reports of the impossibility of access to public notices, such as research productivity grants. According to the organization’s president, Renato Janine Ribeiro, a position of defense for development agencies is needed.
“The CNPq must have funds for the core activities, which are the most important , but also for middle activities, which guarantee the organ’s functioning,” he said. “There is concern about the current situation of crisis, but which is basically a result of budgetary choices”.
For Flvia Cal, president of ANPG (National Association of Graduate Students), the loss of data would be the great tragedy caused by the failure. Although CNPq denies this risk, the entity expects the reestablishment of the systems to assess the scenario.
“We credit this deletion to the scrapping of CNPq, which had a drastic reduction in budget and suffers with a very large staff gap. The most technical issues on the platform are the old and recurring complaints,” she says. “This process that the deletion shows is part of an understanding that it is not necessary to invest in science.”
The CNPq budget for 2021 the lowest less since 2012, even in nominal values. The updated allocation of the organization for this year of R$ 1.2 billion between 2013 and 2015, the budget exceeded the R$ $2 billion.
Expenditures with the administration of the unit, which do not include the payment of scholarships, were the lowest since the first two years of the Bolsonaro government 2013.
The Bolsonaro government tried at the beginning of the administration, in 2015, to merge the CNPq with Capes, which is linked to the Ministry of Education and takes care of graduate studies. The theme did not go forward, but officials say the idea was never completely abandoned.