Strong and robust result from Performance Review

Created date

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 1:29am

The Bushfire CRC is “sound and robust”, with supportive and engaged stakeholders, a high quality research program, a cohort of leading international researchers and a clear vision for its future – that is the view in the final report from the Independent Review Panel on behalf of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

Over three days in April this year the Panel reviewed a broad range of activities and structures within the Bushfire CRC.

I have previously publicly thanked everyone who contributed to the presentation of our work over these days. It clearly had a positive impact on the Panel members, who have delivered what can only be described as a positive and encouraging report.

The report with its recommendations will now be considered by the Governing Board of the Bushfire CRC at its next meeting on Tuesday 26 June in Adelaide. The following day, Wednesday 27 June, all partners will have the opportunity to discuss the way forward from the review at the Stakeholder Meeting, which will be held at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide.

The Board will formally respond with details on how the recommendations will be implemented. I am confident we can deliver on all the recommendations over the next 12 months.

The Panel noted the strong support of stakeholders and end users, at very senior levels, to the CRC and the extent to which evidence based research from the CRC was supporting cultural change within the participant organisations.

It recommended the Bushfire CRC better measure its research impacts, enhance its presence in social media and increase and diversify its partner base beyond its current 45 partners to include others such as utilities and insurance industries, to better match it future research aims.

Interestingly, the Panel’s main concern centred on measuring impact from the outcomes of the research. It believed we understated these actual and potential benefits.

The Panel wrote: “It was clear to the Panel that the research was being taken up with enthusiasm by participants, even where the results may not be the most palatable to those organisations. The Panel has made a number of recommendations for the CRC to measure these impacts more realistically.”

The Panel made four major conclusions on the performance of the Bushfire CRC. It said the Bushfire CRC:

1.       Demonstrates sound governance and committee structures that effectively involve stakeholders, researchers and end users.

2.       Has a high level of interaction between end users and researchers from determination of the scope of research projects through monitoring progress and in using results. It undertakes social and technical research of high quality that is valued by end users.

3.       Manages research progress in a sound manner but with sufficient flexibility to take account of opportunities emerging during a research project.

4.       Operates a successful post graduate program that supports students and integrates them into the work of the CRC and that of the CRC participants.

Importantly, the Panel supported the proposal for the Bushfire CRC to extend its term by 12 months to June 2014, using existing Commonwealth funds with additional resources from partners. Although the main research program would still conclude in June 2013, a limited set of activities would be possible beyond this date. This would allow greater scope to deliver “fourth year” impacts of the research projects, allow postgraduate students to complete their courses and provide more time to transition to an ongoing research institute with a new research program.

On this last point, the Panel suggested that the Bushfire CRC consider a number of funding options for its future.

Overall, the Panel made broad recommendations in relation to:

1.       The use of metrics and data collection to evaluate the delivery of research outputs and the uptake by end users, including the broader community.

2.       The use of web based tools - specifically social media - in knowledge transfer and diffusion to the community; as well as for promoting its education program.

3.       The professional development of students and in particular the provision of more regular training courses in fields of professional writing, project management, media and intellectual property.

4.       Expanding its end user and stakeholder base as part of its transition options and future research objectives. The Panel considers that the Bushfire CRC would be advantaged by having a relationship with diverse end user groups such as the insurance and utilities industries.

I encourage you to read the full report on our website, as it offers an insightful third party endorsement of the strengths and opportunities for the Bushfire CRC.