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CNPq re-establishes access to the Carlos Chagas platform after 23 days of blackout – 08/16/2021 – Science

The Jair Bolsonaro government announced this Monday (16) the total restoration of the Carlos Chagas platform, which has been out of service since 23 July. New deadlines for submission of projects for eight public calls-to-bid that were frozen were announced, but the period for nominating new scholarship holders in August will have a new date announced shortly.

The system was down for 23 days after a failure that affected the servers of the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development), a federal research development agency. Access to the Lattes platform, also affected by the failure, had been normalized on the 8th of this month.

The ineffectiveness of Carlos Chagas compromised the continuity of projects across the country, in addition to hampering the technical work of CNPq. Created in 2007, the platform is the main interface between researchers and the agency.

By Carlos Chagas, public calls and notices to promote research are operated, and the management and payment of grants, in addition to rendering of accounts, are carried out. The prolonged time of the blackout caused apprehension among researchers.

About 84 thousand scholarship holders are financed with CNPq resources. The agency currently supports 2,201 research projects, according to official data.

The problem stopped the continuity of public calls that involve productivity grants for researchers, advanced therapies and scientific events, for example. The notices had a deadline for submission between July 25 and August 20, when the platform was down.

The new deadlines now vary between August 20th and September 8th, which represents delays in the realization of federal support. “The proposals submitted until the 23rd of July, when the unavailability began, are protected”, says a statement from the CNPq. The agency guarantees that no information has been lost.

The blackout, according to official information from the CNPq, was caused by the burning of a controller device for the servers where the platforms are hosted. This would have occurred when migrating data to a new server.

According to CNPq, the delay to resolve the situation was related to the process of transferring data to a new server. The decision was made, the council said, to migrate all data, systems and services to new equipment before re-establishing access to the Carlos Chagas platform, “to ensure more security and stability, and still have a definitive solution.”

The main CNPq server, affected by the failure, was out of warranty and without a maintenance contract. When questioned, the agency stated that a working group “will act in a careful assessment of the conditions that generated the problem”.

Researchers see budget reduction as part of the cause of the problem. The need for improvements and investment in the platforms had been officially addressed by CNPq at least since last September.

The resources allocated to the CNPq have been streamlined in recent years, intensified by the Bolsonaro government. The agency is linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

In 2021, the council 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—from 2013 to 2015, for example, the executed budget exceeded R$2 billion per year.

There was also a 34% reduction in the number of servers from 2015 to 2020. There are now 316 employees, against 478 in 2015.

Data indexed in the Web of Science​ database and collected by the council show that 40% of Brazilian scientific production was supported, in 2020, by the CNPq. In 2015, this percentage was 44.5%, but even so, the current proportion positions CNPq as the largest development agency in the country.​

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