The National Science Council (NSC) yesterday said universities should establish a special unit to manage research spending and collective procurement of research equipment to address problems highlighted by a recent scandal involving academics who allegedly used fake receipts to gain reimbursements from research budgets.
NSC Deputy Minister Henry Sun (孫以瀚) made the remarks during a speech on the opening day of the National Conference of University and College Presidents at Fo Guang University in Yilan County, during which he spoke about what the council can and cannot do for universities.
Referring to the alleged cases of corruption, Sun said they were mainly caused by problems with universities’ internal controls, and explained the council’s policy of making the use of national research project fees more flexible. He also suggested the universities establish a “storehouse.”
He said that by establishing a storehouse — a special unit to “store” research fees granted by national research projects that were not written off by the end of the year — and employing specialized procurement personnel to deal with the purchases of research equipment, academics would be spared from having to procure such equipment themselves.
Moreover, commonly used items could be purchased in large quantities to cut costs and reduce the chances of academics having to bargain with vendors, he said, adding that specialized procurement personnel could be commissioned to purchase research equipment.
Wu Se-hwa (吳思華), chairman of the Association of National Universities of Taiwan and National Chengchi University president, said that establishing a foundation to manage the retained funding might be better than the “storehouse” mechanism, and that academics could apply to the foundation for funding to do fundamental research that have more uncertain timetables.
Wu said that funding should be separate from the annual budget write-off system.