EMBO reports working for the clampdown


Howy Jacobs lampoons the pervasive spread of time management and organization in academic research in his Editorial in the December issue of EMBO reports (10, 1281; 2009). “Following its successful trial in the university system during the past three years, time-management reporting is now to be extended to all citizens of the European Union (EU). The university trial concerned the apportionment of working time between different activities and was required by EU legislation to implement the so-called ‘full-cost model’ to all externally funded research in the academic sector. In essence, this enabled university finance departments to guarantee that external funding was correctly used for specified projects, and not for more general tasks such as thinking, deleting spam e-mails or the online submission and verification of time-management data. The new system, as outlined in the EU’s Non-Working Time Directive, will track citizens’ use of their time outside the workplace. Its aim is to ensure that public funds are properly used for the purposes intended. For example, if x% of the state budget is being spent on dental services, and this represents a fraction y of total national spending on dentistry, including the production, marketing and sale of toothpaste, then citizens should be spending (x/y)% of their non-working time visiting the dentist, brushing and flossing their teeth or managing their dentures.” Read on at EMBO reports to discover where all this leads.


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