Title:

Review of FRDC's Industry Partnership Agreements (IPAs), Research Advisory Committees (RACs), Subprograms and Coordination Programs

Project Number:

2018-173

Organisation:

Forest Hill Consulting

Principal Investigator:

Scott Williams

Project Status:

Completed

FRDC Expenditure:

$52,627.28

Need

The independent review of performance of the FRDC, undertaken in 2018 by Forest Hill Consulting, made two recommendations that have given rise to this review: • Recommendation 3: During the development of the next RD&E plan, FRDC should review the way it organises and manages its RD&E program (its investment and evaluation framework) with the aim of simplifying it so that it is easily understood by the average stakeholder. • Recommendation 7: FRDC should strengthen its approach to extension, possibly by creating a specific position to oversee or coordinate extension across the organisation. Recommendation 3 reflected a finding that the FRDC's investment and evaluation framework is very complex and difficult to understand from outside the organisation, even by stakeholders who are closely engaged with and have a good understanding of the FRDC. This is likely to be creating additional overhead cost for the organisation and for those working with it (for example, researchers submitting project applications), and leading to sub-optimal understanding by stakeholders of FRDC's performance. The FRDC's approach to extension (recommendation 7) is closely tied to its stakeholder engagement model, hence its inclusion in the scope of the current project.

Objectives

1. Identify how the various partnership models are managed by the FRDC and how that management might be improved

2. Identify the the degree to which the FRDC's partnership models meet stakeholder needs

3. Identify how well the FRDC's partnership models are meeting the FRDC’s extension/adoption/impact goals

4. Identify areas for improvement in the FRDC's partnership models generally

5. Identify how well the FRDC's partnership models are contributing to the FRDC realising its planned outcome

Review of FRDC’s partnership models

Final Report
ISBN:
ISSN:
Author(s):Scott Williams and Russell Pattinson
Date Published:January 2020
This report presents the outcomes of a project commissioned by the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC) to provide: ‘…a comprehensive and independent review of the current FRDC partnership models with a view to identifying: how the various models are managed by the FRDC and how that management might be improved, the degree to which they meet stakeholder needs, how well they are meeting the FRDC’s extension / adoption / impact goals, areas for improvement generally (and) how well they are contributing to the FRDC realising its planned outcome’.
This report presents the outcomes of a project commissioned by the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (FRDC) to provide: ‘…a comprehensive and independent review of the current FRDC partnership models with a view to identifying: how the various models are managed by the FRDC and how that management might be improved, the degree to which they meet stakeholder needs, how well they are meeting the FRDC’s extension / adoption / impact goals, areas for improvement generally (and) how well they are contributing to the FRDC realising its planned outcome’.
 
The main elements of FRDC’s partnership models are:
  • Five ‘programs’ that form the main organising principle for the Research, Development & Extension (RD&E) Plan;
  • Three ‘national priorities’ identified in the RD&E Plan;
  • A series of ‘subprograms’ established to coordinate areas of related RD&E such as Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity;
  • Eight jurisdictional Research Advisory Committees (RACs); and
  • A series of Industry Partnership Agreements (IPAs).
The review involved:
  1. A desktop review of key documentation in relation to FRDC's stakeholder relationships, and a scan of the engagement models of other selected Research & Development Corporations (RDCs);
  2. External stakeholder consultation, comprising an online survey that attracted 141 responses, 27 one-on-one telephone interviews with a cross-section of individuals and discussions with two RACs;
  3. Discussions with FRDC management to gather information and test ideas;
  4. The preparation of a draft report, which was reviewed by the FRDC Board and management and then presented to a stakeholder workshop in September 2019, with an invitation to provide comments during the subsequent period; and
  5. Preparation of this final report, incorporating changes to reflect the feedback received on the draft.
The main findings from the survey and interviews were:
  • Stakeholders as a whole are moderately positive about the effectiveness of the various partnership structures and claim to understand them moderately well. RACs and IPAs are generally considered to work well and to fulfil their respective purposes. Changes to RAC management implemented a few years ago have been successful. There are mixed views about whether the number of RACs should be reduced through rationalisation.
  • There was far less confidence in understanding of the subprograms except by direct participants. The main concerns about subprograms relate to scope vis-à-vis that of the RACs and IPAs. Subprograms may end up with only the ‘leftovers’ that RACs and IPAs are unwilling to address. On the other hand, projects that may have relevance for one or more RACs may not be supported by them because ’the subprogram can fund that’.
  • Most believe that the FRDC partnership model is too complex. Participants understand how to navigate their own domain (RAC, IPA etc) but working beyond that domain is often poorly understood. Collaboration often does not work well and can slow project approval processes significantly. The industry may not be well served by the number of plans prepared, the number of meetings / forums held and the number of RD&E calls made each year.
  • FRDC management of partnerships is generally well respected, notably with respect to RACs. However, managers are over-stretched.
  • It is important for RACs and subprograms to have capable chairs with strong governance and strategy expertise.