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Changes in the Organization and
Management of the Union's Scientific Work

IUPAC Moves to a Project-Driven System


The organization and management of IUPAC's scientific work will soon begin a transition to a system that emphasizes individual projects, rather than allocation of Titular Members among a large number of Commissions and Committees. By a vote of 20-0, with two abstentions, the Bureau has approved an integrated program proposed by the Strategy Development and Implementation Committee (SDIC) and the Committee on Project Evaluation Criteria (CPEC) that will (i) assign to greatly strengthened Division Committees the primary responsibility for overseeing the initiation, approval and management of scientific projects, and (ii) establish a uniform procedure for evaluating and funding such projects. Some aspects of the new program will begin immediately, but there will be a gradual phase-in over the next three years, as Division Committees, Commissions and other IUPAC bodies develop plans for long-range implementation of the new system, as well as proposals for specific new projects.

The program approved by the Bureau is designed to give clear direction for the Union to

  • revitalize its scientific activities,
  • ensure the selection of only high quality projects to bear the IUPAC label,
  • encourage participation by the worldwide chemistry community,
  • optimize the use of IUPAC's limited financial resources, and
  • simplify management and accountability.


There are five principal components of the new program:

1. The Union will gradually replace its long-time practice of allocating resources by assignment of Titular Members to Commissions and Committees with a system in which funds are directly allocated to carry out approved projects. The purpose of the change is to ensure that high priority projects are adequately funded and can be started and completed as expeditiously as feasible. Uniform IUPAC-wide procedures will be implemented by January, 1999 to evaluate proposed projects for quality and suitability, and to fund them within individual Divisions or from central IUPAC funds. Generally, each project will be carried out by a limited-term Task Group. The new system is designed to simplify management, reduce bureaucratic rules and clarify accountability. The Executive Summary of the report by the Committee on Project Evaluation Criteria can be found here.

2. Division Committees have been given the responsibility for seeking out ideas for projects, evaluating the proposals and managing approved projects. The Division Committees will be strengthened by new procedures for nomination of their Members. The Bureau has given approval, effective immediately, for interim modification of Division Committees as needed to ensure necessary expertise and breadth. During the next three years, existing Commissions are expected to continue to provide the primary source of new projects, but efforts will start immediately to solicit ideas and interested participants for new Task Groups from the worldwide chemistry community.

3. Beginning in 2002, there will be a major redistribution of funds, with increase in Division budgets, establishment of a central pool of money to support interdisciplinary projects and projects that require resources beyond the scope of an individual Division or Standing Committee, and termination of separate budgets for the General Assemblies. Council will be asked to amend Bylaw 4.307, which currently describes the "right" of Titular Members to receive travel reimbursements, irrespective of responsibility for projects or other activities.

4. The role of Commissions will change drastically beginning in 2002. As an initial step, Council will be asked in 1999 to exercise its responsibility under Bylaw 4.302 to decide not to continue any existing Commission beyond the end of 2001. This action will permit each Division Committee to utilize the period 1999-2001 to take a fresh look at its overall programs, to consider how best to allocate its resources, and to determine the optimum way to provide for oversight of activities and continuity of programs. During this period (and thereafter) if a Division Committee believes that a new Commission is needed for a particular purpose, it may request the Bureau and Council to form such a Commission by making a persuasive case under the procedures of Bylaw 4.301, including specification of the life of the proposed Commission. Such a Commission might be established, for example, to generate a long-term strategy and develop IUPAC's role in a new area or to accomplish an important short-term task. Funding will be provided as needed to accomplish the objectives.

5. After 2002, it is anticipated that there will be a substantial reduction in the number of Commissions and a significant increase in the number of short-term Task Groups. These changes will require reconsideration of the "membership" of the Divisions - currently defined in the Bylaws as the Titular and Associate Members of Commissions and Division Committees. The Secretary General and Division Presidents have been charged by the Bureau to develop proposals that could be acted on by Council in 2001. In addition, the role of National Representatives will be reexamined. The plan approved by the Bureau includes provision for a limited number of non-voting National Representatives on Division Committees, but additional mechanisms are to be developed to enhance participation by a large number of scientists from both large and small countries.

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