The federal government has asked the CSIRO to lend its expertise to a controversial new plan to drug-test welfare recipients.
The CSIRO says the contract is still being negotiated but is likely to go ahead after the Department of Social Services approached it in early April.
A Senate committee in Canberra has been told discussions are underway between the department and CSIRO's digital research unit, Data61, about how to implement the work.
The plan, announced in the May budget, would test thousands of new Centrelink entrants for illicit substances including ice, ecstasy and marijuana.
Officials will scrutinise sewage to find areas of high drug use, before hand-picking three trial sites for testing 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients.
Anyone who tests positive will be shunted onto cashless welfare cards with their payments quarantined, while those who fail more than once will be referred to medical professionals for assessment and treatment.
"It's likely that we will enter into a contract once it's figured out, once it's scoped out," CSIRO boss Larry Marshall told the hearing on Thursday.
"This is an important issue, organisations all around the world are starting to use data in this way.
"As the national science agency we feel it's very important to ensure the science is done to the highest standards."
CSIRO executive David Williams said there was "no reason" why it would not proceed with the work.
CSIRO officials revealed Data61 is also helping the government with its Centrelink robo-debt debacle.
Dr Marshall said CSIRO was enlisted to provide advice on data analysis after issues with the system emerged.