The GRDC Board has overall responsibility for corporate governance within the organisation and places high value on continuously improving the GRDC’s performance in this area.
Key activities during 2010–11 included:
- an external review of business risks, commenced through Oakton
- monthly reviews of business and fraud risks
- testing of the Business Continuity Plan and Information Technology Disaster Recovery Plan.
Policies and procedures
In continuously improving the GRDC’s corporate governance, the corporation is guided by the Australian National Audit Office Better Practice Guide: Public Sector Governance.
The GRDC Operating Manual, which is available to the Board and all staff members, describes the corporation’s:
- policies and procedures
- roles and responsibilities (including those of the Board and its committees)
- Code of Conduct
- approval authority schedule, which sets delegations from the Board to management under the PIERD Act.
Code of Conduct
The GRDC Code of Conduct is published as part of the GRDC Operating Manual. New directors and staff members are introduced to the code during induction, and presentations on the code are made to staff at regular intervals. All staff have access to the code via the policies section on the GRDC intranet.
Risk management and fraud control
Risk management has been embraced throughout the GRDC as a tool to assess risks at the strategic, operational and project levels.
The GRDC prepares a regular business environment report to the Board. This report is used to update the GRDC’s situation analysis and identify developing risks.
The EMT and Board conduct a detailed review of the GRDC’s strategic risks at least every six months.
The GRDC conducts external business risk assessments. External provider Oakton commenced an external business risk assessment in June 2011, and will complete it early in 2011–12.
The GRDC also conducts a fraud risk assessment every two years. During 2008–09 the GRDC engaged Oakton to conduct a fraud risk assessment, in conjunction with GRDC management, and to provide an updated GRDC Fraud Control Plan for 2009 to 2011. Oakton provided the final Fraud Risk Assessment and Fraud Control Plan in early 2009–10.
To ensure that the business and fraud risks identified in the Business Risk Assessment and Fraud Control Plan are fully monitored and regularly updated, the GRDC’s Legal & Procurement team prepares a Business Risk Assessment Report and a Fraud Control Action Plan. The EMT, in consultation with managers, updates the report and action plan each month. The Board reviews these documents at each meeting, as does the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee.
The EMT also conducts a full review of the business risk assessment report and the fraud control action plan every six months. The business risk report template was updated and risks were rerated in early 2010 to implement new risk management standard AS/NZS ISO 3100:2009 Risk Management—Principles and Guidelines.
The GRDC received two gold awards at the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Annual Report Awards for 2009–10. (From left) Andrew Metcalfe, IPAA ACT President; Geoff Budd, Executive Manager Legal & Procurement; Zoltan Lukacs, Corporate Strategist Evaluation and Reporting; Terry Moran, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Photo: IPAA
The GRDC’s Managing Director is satisfied that:
- a fraud risk assessment and fraud control plan have been prepared that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines
- appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and processes are in place
- annual fraud data has been collected and reported that complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.
The GRDC is insured by Comcover, the Australian Government’s self-managed fund for insurance risks. Each year the GRDC participates in Comcover’s Risk Management Benchmarking Program. The March 2011 benchmarking survey rated the GRDC at 7.6 out of 10—the ‘peer group’ of 22 small agencies’ average was 6.2 out of 10, and the GRDC topped several elements in the peer group. The GRDC rated:
- relatively high on accounting and responsibility, integration and risk management policy and objectives
- relatively low on communication and training.
The GRDC’s Quality Management System has ISO9001:2008 quality assurance accreditation from BSI Management Systems.
In 2010–11, regular internal audits were conducted by a contracted certified auditor over two days every two months. In September 2010 and May 2011 successful external surveillance audits were conducted by BSI Management Systems and the GRDC certification to the ISO9001:2008 standard was continued.
In addition, the EMT formally reviewed the quality system every six months. All aspects of the quality system were considered at the quality management review meetings, including required improvements, complaints, non-conformances and commendations.
Figure 17 shows the results of the quality audits and other feedback in 2010–11. The audits demonstrate that the Quality Management System based on ISO9001:2008 is robust, is being used correctly and continues to be a useful tool for business improvement.
Figure 17 Results of quality audits, 2010–11
Indemnities and insurance premiums for officers
GRDC officers, including members of the Board, are insured by the GRDC against various liabilities that they may incur in their capacity as officers of the corporation, through Comcover. The Comcover insurance contract prohibits the GRDC from disclosing the nature or limit of the liabilities covered or the amount of premiums payable.
The GRDC is required to report annually on its performance in relation to ecologically sustainable development and other environmental issues discussed in section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The principles of ecologically sustainable development have been incorporated into the decision-making systems and processes of the GRDC, as required under the EPBC Act.
The GRDC’s environmental policy states:
The GRDC is committed to investing in RD&E that addresses the environmental priorities of its stakeholders and underpins the sustainable development of an internationally competitive Australian grains industry.
The policy is reflected in the GRDC Strategic R&D Plan 2007–12, Prosperity through Innovation, and the Environmental Plan, A Responsible Lead: An Environmental Plan for the Australian Grains Industry. The Environmental Plan complements the Strategic R&D Plan 2007–12, adding more detail regarding environmental priorities, and is consistent with GPA’s environmental policy.
The GRDC seeks investments that address the environmental concerns represented in the Australian Government’s National Research Priorities and Rural R&D Priorities (as shown in Table 12 in Part 2).
A key element in the implementation of the Environmental Plan is partnerships with regional natural resource management bodies, which have a responsibility for achieving a range of resource targets in Australia. Key issues for the industry are adaptation to climate change, management of greenhouse gas emissions, and management of soil erosion, soil acidification, nutrient loss and salinity. The implications for grain production include the identification of traits, breeding of cultivars and development of practices that allow for improved environmental outcomes.
The GRDC’s commitment to addressing these issues is demonstrated in the identification of new RD&E investments in:
- reducing chemical use through integrated management approaches for weeds, pests and diseases
- improving soil ground cover through minimum tillage and use of pastures in rotation
- water-use efficient farming systems
- managed environment facilities to assist in testing varieties for water-use efficiency traits.
Other investments also address issues that have environmental outcomes, such as the improvement of soil quality, the minimisation of nutrient loss and the management of soil acidity. The Grain and Graze program being conducted by the GRDC, in partnership with the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative, universities, state departments and grower groups, is just one example. Part 2 of this annual report includes more discussion on how GRDC investments helped to achieve environmental objectives.
At the operational level, the environmental policy relating to the GRDC’s corporate office commits the GRDC to managing its RD&E activities with minimal impact on the environment, consistent with relevant legislation.
Pollination of peanut flowers is one stage in the breeding process that could lead to a new variety with higher levels of calcium and antioxidants. Photo: Clarissa Collis
Freedom of information
For the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011, the GRDC, as an Australian Government statutory authority, is required by sections 8 and 9 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to include the following information in its annual report:
- details of the organisation, including its functions and decision-making powers
- any arrangements that the GRDC has for outside participation in its policy formulation or decision making
- the types of documents the GRDC holds
- the GRDC’s freedom of information procedures, facilities and contact details
- documents and processes that the GRDC uses to make decisions in relation to the funding of R&D projects (the section 9 statement).
From 1 May 2011, under recent reforms to the FOI Act, the GRDC is required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. An agency plan showing what information is published in accordance with the IPS requirements is accessible from the GRDC website.
Details of the organisation
Details of the organisation of the GRDC, particularly its structure, functions and statutory responsibilities, are provided in Part 1 and Part 3 of this annual report.
The GRDC consults extensively with grain growers, industry representatives and advisers and researchers to tailor its investment portfolio. These consultation processes are described in many parts of this annual report, particularly the ‘Research priorities’, ‘Collaboration’ and output group sections of Part 2, and the ‘Advisory panels and program teams’ and ‘Accountability’ sections of Part 3.
The following is a list of documents held or published by the GRDC:
- corporate documents—such as the annual report, strategic R&D plan, annual operational plan, research reports and newsletters—which are supplied free to the public on request while stocks are available and/or are displayed on the GRDC’s website
- industry-specific publications, which are supplied free to the public on request while stocks are available, displayed on the GRDC’s website and/or sold to the public on a partial cost-recovery basis
- applying and reporting documents—such as the investment plan; current tenders and expressions of interest; documents related to travel, training and industry development awards and conference sponsorships; and research progress reports—which are available on the GRDC’s website
- general administrative documents, including project and personnel files.
For more information about the GRDC’s information product line, see Appendix D and the GRDC website.
Procedures and contact details
Applicants may discuss the nature and scope of an intended request under the FOI Act or seek advice on freedom of information matters. Whenever possible, the freedom of information officer will help applicants to identify relevant documents.
If a request is approved, the applicant will be provided with either a copy of the documents or the opportunity to inspect them at the GRDC’s office.
Any refusal to grant access will be supported by a statement of reasons, together with a statement advising the applicant of their rights to request that the decision be reviewed.
Any enquiries about matters relating to freedom of information should be directed during normal working hours to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Grains Research and Development Corporation
PO Box 5367
KINGSTON ACT 2604
Telephone: 02 6166 4500
Facsimile: 02 6166 4599
Section 9 statement
The GRDC submits an annual statement to the National Archives of Australia as required under section 9 of the FOI Act. The statement outlines the documents and processes the GRDC uses to make decisions in relation to the funding of R&D projects. A copy of the statement can be viewed on the National Archives of Australia website, www.naa.gov.au.
A full list of projects funded by the GRDC is also available in Appendix B.
The GRDC received no requests under the FOI Act during 2010–11.