Last week, Crikey published this story about the delayed release of a major review of public health research, which was completed last October, and promised for release early this year but still under wraps.
(Ironically enough, one of the review’s recommendations was the establishment of a national public health research register to improve transparency around research funded by governments.)
Professor Don Nutbeam, who chaired the group that produced the review, said he assumed the delay was due to delays in final sign-off from Health Minister Nicola Roxon’s office. He thought this was more likely to be “cock-up than conspiracy”, reflecting the “inefficiencies and the bureaucratic nightmare that’s been created around the NHMRC and its relationship with the Government.”
I tried to find out more from Roxon’s office but my phone calls weren’t returned (perhaps not surprising, given this was in the midst of the swine flu frenzy). I also was unsuccessful in obtaining comment from the NHMRC ceo Professor Warwick Anderson.
But yesterday, we were both attending an NHMRC workshop in Canberra, and he finally was ready to talk. He put up his hand, saying the delay could not be blamed on the Minister’s office. It was the result of an administrative decision within the NHMRC to release the review, together with two other reviews, as part of a document outlining the Council’s strategy for the future.
He said the review, which was forwarded to the Minister’s office last week, would be released “shortly”.
Nutbeam has been hearing similar promises for some months now. We will keep you posted…