The main platforms of Brazilian science, Lattes and Carlos Chagas, completed ten days of inoperative. The Jair Bolsonaro government promised that the systems would be restored this Monday (2), but the problems in the technology area that caused the systems to crash have not yet been resolved.
The platforms have been down since the 23rd of last month. The two systems are the responsibility of the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development), responsible for promoting research in the country. The agency is linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The CNPq said last week that there was no loss of information and that the damaged equipment was already being restored. Despite the forecast of re-establishing access for this Monday, the agency published a note stating that “the complete verification is still in progress”.
The CNPq report does not include a date with a forecast for the systems to go back online. “This verification involves a series of tests, which were carried out throughout the weekend, with occasional instabilities that are being adjusted to re-establish full storage capacity.”
The systems blackout was caused by the burning of a device in equipment that has the function of controlling the servers where the platforms are hosted. This would have occurred when migrating the data to a new server. The president of the CNPq, Evaldo Vilela, ruled out the action of a hacker.
In an e-mail obtained by the report, a CNPq official reported, on the 26th, that the council’s main server had been reached and that the equipment would be out of warranty and without a maintenance contract. This would prevent an immediate repair and would bring the need to hire an outside company, as it actually happened.
Questioned by Folha, CNPq and the Ministry of Science did not respond about the operation being without warranty and maintenance.
Lattes is a database with all researchers’ résumés, and actions such as the approval of grants depend on consulting the platform. On the other hand, Carlos Chagas is responsible for operating public calls and notices to promote research, management and payment of grants.
About 84 thousand researchers are financed with resources from the CNPq. But other research bodies also carry out operations anchored on Lattes.
The deadlines for actions such as the submission of proposals, rendering of accounts and the validity of scholarships are suspended and will be extended. New dates will be announced as soon as the systems are re-established, says the CNPq, which guarantees the payment of scholarships without delay.
According to the CNPq informed last week, the transfer of data backup from the Lattes platform to a new server had already been completed. But the agency now says that it preferred to extend tests on the equipment.
“To guarantee the safety, stability and proper functioning of the equipment, we opted to extend the tests until it is possible to offer this safe scenario for the availability of the systems”, says the note on this Monday.
Officials point to the failure as a reflection of the budget drop experienced by the CNPq. This was rejected by the president of the CNPq.
In 2021, the agency has the lowest budget since at least 2012, even in nominal values. The agency’s updated allocation for the year is R$1.2 billion – between 2013 and 2015, for example, the executed budget exceeded R$2 billion.