ARC documents reveal CEO meddling in hundreds of research applications


Senator Faruqi’s order for the production of documents required the Government to provide data on the ARC CEO’s requested revisions to the National Interest Test (NIT) statement for eight research programs. The data was returned late Tuesday 13 September.

It reveals:

  • The CEO requested revisions to the NIT statement in 322 applications for the programs covered by the Senate Order, 13 percent of the projects that had reached the CEO.
  • Multiple sets of revisions were requested by the CEO for nearly two-thirds (61.5%) of applications where revisions to the NIT statement were requested.
  • Thirty-seven percent of applications to the Discovery Indigenous 2023 scheme attracted a request for NIT revisions, nearly three times the average rate of NIT-picking for applications that had progressed to the CEO.

Senator Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for education, said:

“This data reveals the concerning extent of the ARC CEO’s interference and just how broken and unnecessary the National Interest Test is.

“I find it galling that the CEO of ARC saw fit to interfere in more than three hundred peer-reviewed applications, delaying valuable projects and endangering researchers careers.

“I’m particularly alarmed to see Discovery Indigenous 2023 applications were NIT-picked three times more often than other grant applications. 

“It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that NIT-picking has disproportionately interfered with the applications of Indigenous researchers. The CEO needs to explain why Indigenous research applications were subjected to more revisions than others.

“The Minister should get rid of the Liberal-era National Interest Test once and for all.”