Planning and reporting approach
The GRDC is a statutory corporation, operating as a research investment body on behalf of Australian graingrowers and the Australian Government. As well as its responsibilities under the PIERD Act, the corporation has accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) and in the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2005. The GRDC's portfolio department is the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
In line with its enabling legislation, the GRDC Board communicates its strategic directions and performance objectives through a five-year strategic plan that delivers:
- a statement of the GRDC's objectives and priorities
- an outline of the GRDC's strategies to achieve those objectives and priorities.
The current strategic document, Driving Innovation: The GRDC Five Year Research and Development Plan 2002-07, was approved by the Minister on 16 May 2002.
Each year's planned activities are outlined in operational terms in an annual operational plan, and in terms of an outcome-based performance measurement framework in the portfolio budget statements. Both documents are subject to approval by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The GRDC's annual report details the corporation's achievements against its planned outcomes.
The GRDC's legal and policy drivers for action, outcomes to be achieved, detailed outputs and future directions are summarised in the performance framework shown in Figure 9.
The corporation uses the Australian National Audit Office Guidelines for Best Practice Corporate Governance to assess the corporation's overall approach and ongoing development. The GRDC's corporate governance in 2005-06 is discussed in detail in Part 3.
The GRDC continues to respond to the ministerial priorities for rural R&D corporations (RDCs) and to the Australian Government's National Research Priorities. These priorities, and the GRDC's achievements in meeting them so far, are discussed in more detail in Part 2.
Strategic business plan-The Way Forward
In 2004 the GRDC conducted a significant strategy review that led to the release of the GRDC strategic business plan, The Way Forward, in January 2005. The plan is both supplementary and complementary to Driving Innovation, and encompasses issues highlighted in Towards a Single Vision for the Australian Grains Industry: the Australian Grains Industry Strategic Plan 2005-25.
The Way Forward also articulates the GRDC's responses to change in:
- the national and global agri-food sectors
- state-based departments of agriculture
- delivery channels to growers
- market penetration from competing countries
- input costs
- the profile of the Australian graingrower.
The strategic business plan identifies four principal pathways to market for R&D: better varieties faster; better farming practices adopted faster; new products; and building research capacity.
In 2005, as the first step towards implementing the strategic business plan, the GRDC reorganised its business structure to establish:
- four lines of business-Varieties, Practices, New Products and Communication and Customer Services-each of which corresponds to one of the strategic pathways to market and represents an output group for the purposes of reporting against our Annual Operational Plan 2005-06 and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Portfolio Budget Statements 2005-06.
- two enabling functions-Corporate Services, which covers human resources, finance, information technology, compliance and legal matters; and Corporate Strategy and Program Support, which covers strategy development and budget forecasting and provides program and panel support.
In other steps towards implementing The Way Forward, the GRDC has:
- developed separate investment strategies for each output group
- clearly identified two key customer groups-the Australian Government and Australian graingrowers
- improved communication between its key customer groups, research partners, Board, panel members and staff
- articulated the roles and responsibilities of the national and regional panels
- simplified and streamlined the corporation's procurement guidelines
- developed a comprehensive risk register, comprising strategic and operational risks, and provided quarterly 'traffic light' risk reports (identifying levels of risk as red, amber or green) to the Board
- selected an off-the-shelf project management system, to which business processes will be aligned.
The GRDC's annual report details corporation's achievements planned outcomes.
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