CSIRO + NICTA merger still not nailed down


blog We can’t imagine the staff morale at Australia’s peak IT research group NICTA is fantastic at this point. The Federal Government cut all funding to the organisation in the 2014 Budget, the CSIRO merger plan to save the group has been in negotiations for six months, and even now the situation in terms of hundreds of redundancies continues to be unclear. The Canberra Times tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“The job prospects of up to 200 employees remain uncertain as a merger of the nation’s peak science and IT bodies continues to be negotiated.”

Now, personally I’ve never seen a huge point in the Government funding NICTA — while it does support a lot of research work, I’m not convinced that NICTA has been producing effective research or that the global tech sector has benefitted substantially from that work. The group’s list of supported projects has never seemed tremendously inspired.

However, I do feel for the organisation’s staff, and students supported by NICTA. The most important issue in this situation is that those staff and students receive some form of certainty about their future. I can’t imagine why it’s taken NICTA and the CSIRO so long to get this deal nailed down, but I hope they get a wriggle on. Six months with no certainty as to your future career prospects is a little long to have to wait.


  1. It’s taking a long time because it is complex. NICTA is run by half a dozen different universities, all of whom have to agree to the new model. NICTA is spread out over a range of sites, as are the related areas in CSIRO. NICTA and CSIRO have very different operating models, with NICTA much more focused on smaller projects with much of the work done by phD students. Finally, CSIRO itself has some pretty serious funding issues.

  2. I submit that the characterisation of NICTA as not doing effective research is not entirely accurate – in particular, the work on the L4 microkernel with mathematically proven isolation properties is actually quite influential.

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