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CSIRO Cuts Data61 Staff while Trying to Build Big Data Skills

Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016

IA 

Part of new two-year reorganisation.

The CSIRO will embark on a major “pivot” to reinvent itself for the digital age, announcing cuts of up to 350 staff over two years in order to employ “new people with new skills to help navigate this new future”.

In an all-staff letter obtained by Information Age, CEO Larry Marshall flagged reductions across a range of internal business units.

Climate scientists are expected to feel the brunt of the reductions but the CSIRO has said it also plans to remove people from its manufacturing and Data61 operations.

It is unclear how many of the jobs lost from Data61 are the result of overlap between the two organisations following the merger of NICTA - now Data61 - into the CSIRO.

Overlap was initially expected to claim up to 200 positions. Marshall said in his all-staff letter he was “pleased to note that the impact on the numbers of staff [from integrating Data61 into CSIRO] will be significantly lower than was anticipated”.

However, the impending job losses at Data61 come less than a week after Data61 chief Adrian Turner outlined how the agency would “turn Australia’s R&D fortunes around”, and months after Data61 was at least partially re-funded.

In addition, the cuts to Data61 were announced in the same all-staff letter that saw Marshall talk up the CSIRO’s investment in big data and its need to build out big data capabilities across its scientific portfolios.

However, the impending job losses at Data61 come less than a week after Data61 chief Adrian Turner outlined how the agency would “turn Australia’s R&D fortunes around”, and months after Data61 was at least partially re-funded.

In addition, the cuts to Data61 were announced in the same all-staff letter that saw Marshall talk up the CSIRO’s investment in big data and its need to build out big data capabilities across its scientific portfolios.

Information Age asked the CSIRO why cuts were being made in an area it was trying to increase its capability, but a spokesperson for the organisation did not respond.

Marshall used the 2000-word all-staff note to challenge CSIRO to adopt a start-up mindset, to “pivot” based on disruptive influences it faced, and to “not be paralysed by our past”.

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