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The Finnish Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Evaluation of the Government’s research institution and financing reform now completed

Government Communications Department 21.12.2018 10.45 | Published in English on 27.12.2018 at 10.38
Press release 632/2018

This evaluation was carried out as a part of the Government’s 2017 Analysis, Assessment and Research Plan, and it focused on the overall reform of the Government’s research institution and financing (TULA Reform) following a decision-in-principle made by the Government in 2013. In accordance with the evaluation report published 21st of December, this field of research is not in need of new extensive structural changes. The recommendations presented in the report have been drawn up with the purpose of developing research institutions and the financing system.

The objective set in the TULA Reform was that research would better serve as the strategic resource in the development and decision-making of society. The purpose was to make the field of research institutions better respond to the needs of society and to changes in the international environment.

The reform actions applied to the merging and corporatisation of research institutions, the deepening of the cooperation between research institutions and universities, development of activities and new forms of financing research supporting new decision-making, e.g. Financing of Strategic Research (Finnish acronym: STN) and Government’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities (Finnish acronym: VN TEAS). 

New forms of financing research have promoted cooperation between the researcher community and public administration

The reform succeeded in its objective to focus on research financing to strengthen the relevance, demand-centredness and multidisciplinarity of research. The evaluation results indicate that the new forms of financing research supporting decision-making, i.e. Financing of Strategic Research (Finnish acronym: STN) and Government’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities (Finnish acronym: VN TEAS), have directed inputs into multidisciplinary wholenesses and socially significant themes. Cooperation between researcher communities, public administration, business life and civic society has become diversified. The identification of common information needs has developed within the ministries whereas the utilisation of information in political decision-making processes has not shown equal development. 

According to the evaluation findings, the steering and follow-up of reform actions have had their shortcomings as a strategic overall view and responsibility for leading the reform was lacking in all sectors. Attention was focused on the institutional structures of the research institutions, but the strategic choices steering action models appeared to live lives of their own.

According to the evaluation's findings, the Government’s research institution and financing reform did not sufficiently address the versatile role of research institutions in which the work of public authorities and research are interconnected. Gaps have formed in the information reserves and know-how readinesses collected over long periods of time as a consequence deselecting of research. The fragmentation of research work and the weakening of perseverance have hindered the ability of research institutions to perform the public authority duties set for them. The evaluation recommends the adopting of processes more systematic than at present and more comprehensive follow-up of research data to promote information-based leadership.

The evaluation looked into the outcomes of the TULA Reform and how it has facilitated the functioning of research as a strategic resource promoting social development and decision-making. The evaluation was based on the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative material produced by document analyses, questionnaires, interviews and other expert work.  The evaluation was carried out as a cooperation effort involving Ramboll Management Consulting Oy, Gaia Consulting Oy, the University of Lapland, MDI Oy, and WitMill Oy. Professor Peter Maassen and Dr Paul Cunningham participated in it as international experts.

Report

The results of the evaluation were addressed at a meeting held on 5.12. The video recordings of the meetings.

Further details: Katri Haila, Ramboll Management Consulting Oy (until 26.12.2018) etunimi.sukunimi@ramboll.fi, tel. 050 564 9741, Professor Timo Aarrevaara, University of Lapland, etunimi.sukunimi@ulapland.fi, tel. 040 484 4267, and the Steering Group's chairperson Risto Alatarvas, Prime Minister’s Office, etunimi.sukunimi@vnk.fi, tel. 0295 160 024