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Brazil Table of Contents


Administration of Science and Technology

The Ministry of Science and Technology

The central agency for science and technology in Brazil is the Ministry of Science and Technology, which includes the CNPq and Finep. This ministry also has direct supervision over the National Institute of Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais--INPE), the National Institute of Amazon Region Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia--INPA), and the National Institute of Technology (Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia--INT). The ministry is also responsible for the Secretariat for Computer and Automation Policy (Secretaria de Política de Informática e Automação--SPIA), which is the successor of the SEI (see fig. 18).

The Ministry of Science and Technology, which the Sarney government created in March 1985, was headed initially by a person associated with the nationalist ideologies of the past. Although the new minister was able to raise the budget for the science and technology sector, he remained isolated within the government and had no influence on policy making for the economy. In addition, inflation brought the science and technology budget to extremely low levels.

With the new ministry, the science and technology agencies increased in size but lost some of their former independence and flexibility, and they became more susceptible to patronage politics. Most of the resources of the CNPq were channeled to fellowship programs that had no clear procedures for quality control and no mechanisms to make the fellows active in the country's science and technology institutions. New groups competed for resources and control of the country's agencies of science, technology, and higher education. These groups included political parties, unionized university professors and employees, scientific societies, and special interest groups within the scientific and technological community. The SBPC (Brazilian Society for Scientific Development) shed its image as a semi-autonomous association of scientists to become an active lobbyist for more public resources and the protection of national technology from international competition.

Data as of April 1997