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[BEIJING] China has announced that it is to introduce a system of open competitive bidding for all government-sponsored scientific research programmes.

According to a document released last week by the Ministry of Science and Technology and three other government agencies, all research projects sponsored by the state — apart from those involving national security — will be opened to public bids.

Under the bidding process, the document explains, the content, deadline, estimated cost and required evaluation standards will each be specified. It states that the bidding process must observe the principles of openness, equality, justice and honesty.

The government is also proposing that a comprehensive system of research evaluation should be set up. Under this system, senior experts would review and evaluate the selection and completion of State-sponsored research projects.

At present, many state-sponsored projects are decided behind closed doors. Where open bidding has been introduced, this has only been in limited fields, and without firm procedures.

“The previous practice often caused government research funds to be wasted, delaying China’s ability to benefit industrially from the fruits of its research,’’ says a spokesperson for the Ministry of Science and Technology.

He adds that the government expects the new bidding and evaluation system to increase the efficiency of its research activities, and make substantial savings in the fund spent on research.

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