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CSIRO head gets 4 more years in top job

AAP logoAAP 9/09/2016 Elise Scott

Controversial CSIRO boss Larry Marshall, who planned to pare back climate research because global warming has been proved, will get another four years in the job.

His extension comes as the national science body releases an independent review of its 2020 strategy, which highlights several failings of the planning, management and implementation of those decisions.

The restructure - which drives the focus from research to "off the lab bench" innovation - cost hundreds of jobs, although the organisation has maintained the head count would return to original levels within a few years.

The CSIRO board on Friday announced the extension of Dr Marshall's contract to June 30, 2020.

"Our task as Australia's Innovation Catalyst is great, but if we get this right we will help Australia navigate a world that is changing rapidly and ensure our country is sustainable and prosperous well into the future, ' chair David Thodey said.

The review, carried out by Ernst and Young, identified seven areas where governance and risk management oversights hampered the restructure process.

The backlash against the change was not contained to Australian shores, with international scientists furious with the prioritisation away from climate research.

The report says the CSIRO did not have the guidance or experience to manage the media or mitigate the impact of the issues and found the body should have consulted with external stakeholders early.

"This resulted in issues being drawn out even further amongst staff, stakeholders and/or the media," the review says.

Business unit leaders needed more support to manage the changes and staff wanted more transparency, it found.

On announcing the restructure to staff in February, Dr Marshall said CSIRO measurements had helped prove global climate change and "the new question is what do we do about it".

Dr Marshall later conceded he wasn't very good at communication nor politics.

Shortly after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed Greg Hunt his new innovation and science minister in July, the CSIRO was directed to focus on climate research and appoint 15 climate scientists.

The government directive came with $37 million over a decade.

Dr Marshall was appointed in January 2015 on a two-year contract starting with an extension option of three years. Friday's announcement gives him an extra six months - to June 2020.

Greens MP Adam Brandt said the reappointment was a chance for Dr Marshall to change direction.

"CSIRO must prioritise climate change, the number one scientific challenge for the nation, instead of cutting climate science jobs."

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