Purchaser-provider arrangement

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Department of the Environment and Water Resources

Administration of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality

The Department has a cross agency arrangement with the Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) for the administration of the eight year, $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (the National Action Plan). The two responsible ministers jointly determine policy and major funding allocations within the plan, and these are implemented by the Australian Government Natural Resource Management (NRM) Team, a cross agency unit.

The Department is responsible for financial management of the National Action Plan, and is jointly responsible for other aspects of administration. In 2006–07, we transferred $0.87 million to DEW to offset administrative expenses (2005–06: $1.05 million).

Performance in 2006–07 was measured against the indicators outlined in Table 4, Output 1 administered items, 2006–07. Performance for all measures was satisfactory.

Administration of the Natural Heritage Trust

The Department has a cross portfolio arrangement with DEW for the administration of the Natural Heritage Trust.

The Natural Heritage Ministerial Board, consisting of the two responsible ministers, is responsible for Trust administration through the Australian Government NRM Team. DEW is responsible for financial management. In 2006–07, that department transferred $7.30 million to us for administrative costs (2005–06: $7.57 million).

Performance in 2006–07 was measured by:

  • the number of investment strategies that were prepared and evaluated, and for which funding was agreed and specified in financial agreements
  • the number of individuals and community groups supported through Australian Government Envirofund Grants
  • whether investment strategies addressed nationally agreed NRM priorities to address identified NRM issues
  • whether all investments approved by Ministers in 2006–07 were delivered through appropriate financial agreements and provided with funding in accordance with Trust accountability and acquittal procedures, to meet the Trust’s objectives
  • whether monitoring and evaluation arrangements were in place for each level of the Trust, and reports showed progress against targets.

In 2006–07, performance for all measures was satisfactory.

Section 43 of the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 requires the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to prepare an annual report on the Trust’s activities. The regional component of the Trust is delivered jointly with the National Action Plan. Accordingly, there are references to Trust activity in this annual report and in the DEW annual report. The full report on the Trust’s performance is in the Trust’s annual report.

Centrelink

Payments under various programmes

The Department has a purchaser–provider arrangement with Centrelink, under which Centrelink delivers payments for drought-related programmes (such as Exceptional Circumstances payments), Farm Help, the Citrus Canker Assistance Package, the Tobacco Grower Adjustment Assistance Package 2006, and the Sugar Industry Reform Programme 2004. Centrelink is a statutory authority responsible to Senator the Hon. Christopher Ellison, Minister for Human Services.

Our Rural Policy and Innovation Division manages the drought-related and Farm Help programmes; the Food and Agriculture Division manages the Tobacco Grower Adjustment Assistance Package and the now finalised Citrus Canker Assistance Package and Sugar Industry Reform Programmes.

A business partnership agreement between Centrelink and us outlines the services to be delivered. In 2006–07, we purchased Centrelink services for about $20.05 million (2005–06: $16.49 million), made up of the following amounts, less a small efficiency dividend:

  • drought-related programmes—$14.94 million (2005–06: $10.85 million)
  • Farm Help—$4.44 million (2005–06: $4.50 million)
  • Sugar Industry Reform Programme 2004—$0.19 million (2005–06: $1.09 million)
  • Citrus Canker Assistance Package—$0.03 million (2005–06: $0.05 million)
  • Tobacco Grower Adjustment Assistance Package—$0.45 million (2005–06: nil).

Table 38 shows performance during the year under these arrangements for drought related programmes and Farm Help, which have specific performance measures. Payments under the sugar industry, tobacco growers and citrus canker schemes were made to all those deemed eligible.

Table 38 Performance: drought relief and Farm Help, 2006–07

Key performance indicators

Target

Source

Result

Exceptional Circumstances relief payments

Determine the initial eligibility of the customer. Centrelink’s standard is that 80% of determinations of successful applications will be made within 42 days from the lodgment of the initial claim.

80%

Centrelink monthly management information report

72.11%: lower than expected due to a sharp increase in applications for relief payment. Centrelink has already put measures in place to address this drop in performance.

Payments are made to those who are eligible for assistance. The amount paid equals the amount to which an individual or family is entitled to and payment errors are rectified once they have been identified.

 

Assurance statement provided by Centrelink to the Department

A compliance audit is scheduled for the second quarter of the 2007–08 financial year to verify these figures independently.

Based on the information provided, the eligibility of an applicant is correctly assessed.

95%

The amount paid to a recipient is correct.

95%

Payments are corrected once an error has been identified.

100%

Farm Help

Income Support is provided to low income families in financial need

Determine the initial eligibility of the customer. Centrelink’s standard is that 80% of determinations of successful applications will be made within 42 days from the lodgment of the initial claim.

80%

Centrelink monthly management information report

Average for the year was 89%.

Payments are made to those who are eligible for assistance. The amount paid equals the amount to which an individual or family is entitled to and payment errors are rectified once they have been identified.

 

Assurance statement provided by Centrelink to the Department

Negotiations with Centrelink are in progress to specify an appropriate mechanism to measure performance. Results from the Exceptional Circumstances compliance audit will inform these negotiations.

Based on the information provided, the eligibility of an applicant is correctly assessed.

95%

The amount paid to a recipient is correct.

95%

Payments are corrected once an error has been identified.

100%

Customers are provided with an effective decision support system for adjustment and/or exit

Make re‑establishment grant payments in a timely fashion. Centrelink’s standard is that 80% of payments to eligible customers (excluding review and appeal cases and applicants seeking ministerial discretion) will be made within 13 weeks from the lodgment of the second claim (re‑establishment claim).

80%

Centrelink monthly management information report

86%, based on a rolling 12‑month average of successful claims paid within the agreed timeframe.

Professional advice is received by a minimum of 90% of those who commence on the income support (hardship customers).

90%

Assurance statement from Centrelink

Assurance statement has not yet been provided.

All Farm Help recipients develop a Pathways Plan (hardship customers may cancel off‑farm help before developing a Pathways Plan).

100%

Assurance statement from Centrelink

Assurance statement has not yet been provided.

Recipients who participate in a professional advice session will consider that the session was of value in providing decision-making support.

90%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

87%

Recipients who undertake training will consider that the session was of value in developing skills to improve their financial situation, identifying transferable market skills and assisting in re‑establishment.

80%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

No figure for all participants is available (this performance indicator will be reviewed in 2007–08). The longitudinal study showed that 60% of participants went on to further training.

Recipients who consider professional advice and training make a significant contribution to re‑establishment or adjustment.

80%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

84%

Recipients who believe they are better off at the end of Farm Help than before starting the programme in terms of financial self‑reliance/security.

90%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

93%

Recipients who have undertaken a quarterly review with the FHCO since commencing on the programme.

100%

Assurance statement from Centrelink

Assurance statement has not yet been provided.

The programme is successful in supporting industry adjustment

Programme recipients undertake some form of adjustment in their current business operation (broken down into farmers who restructure their farm enterprise, farmers who increase their reliance on off‑farm income, farmers who exit, and farmers who exit and make a successful transition to another form of employment).

75%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

81% of programme recipients undertook some form of adjustment in the 12 months after finishing the programme. In the second interview period, 40% of recipients had undertaken further adjustment.

Farmers act in accordance with their Pathways Plan (that is, meet adjustment outcomes through professional advice and training).

100%

Department’s exit surveys and longitudinal study

100% of farmers surveyed who compulsorily completed a Pathways Plan acted in accordance with it.

Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources

Economic research, forecasts, statistical services and briefings

The Department provides economic research, forecasts, statistical services and briefings to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR). This work relates to minerals, energy and climate change.

Funds are appropriated to DITR, which pays the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) according to a schedule in the ABARE–DITR Research Agreement. The agreement defines the services, outlines costs, and includes a protocol for quarterly progress monitoring. Performance outcomes are detailed against each project in the agreement.

In 2006–07, performance for all measures was satisfactory.

National Biotechnology Strategy

Under Backing Australia’s Ability 2, the Australian Government funds DITR to support the continuation of the National Biotechnology Strategy for four years from 2004. The strategy is delivered through Biotechnology Australia, with which we have a purchaser–provider arrangement governed by a memorandum of understanding.
In 2006–07, the Department received $1.42 million through this arrangement (2005–06: $1.17 million).

The key performance indicators for 2006–07 were:

  • to foster increased awareness of and participation in programmes to support change and adjustment
  • to provide high quality policy advice
  • to provide effective programme administration
  • to facilitate client awareness of programmes and their purpose.

Ten reports commissioned by the National Biotechnology Strategy address one or more of the performance indicators. Five reports have been completed (see ‘Output 2, Rural Policy and Innovation, Agricultural biotechnology’ for details).
The following reports were due to be released in 2006–07 but will now be released early in 2007–08:

  • GM canola information package (ACIL Tasman)
  • A path to market for GM canola (SGA Solutions)
  • The value of non GM biotechnology (Innovation Dynamics)
  • Insurance and living modified organism (LMO) seed and grain (ABARE).
    We commissioned three new reports in the last quarter of 2006–07:
  • Biotechnology and climate change (Bureau of Rural Sciences, expected September 2007)
  • Impacts on Australian agriculture of developments in the use of agricultural biotechnology in emerging economies (ABARE, expected November 2007)
  • Economic impacts of GM crops in Australia (ABARE, expected December 2007).

In 2007–08, we will continue to work with Biotechnology Australia and the states and territories to develop a 10 year vision and strategic plan for agricultural biotechnology, work with producers to hold a pilot series of information forums in the canola regions of New South Wales, and develop a number of brochures to improve communication on biotechnology.

Funding for the National Biotechnology Strategy will expire in June 2008. The Department is represented on the reference group oversighting an evaluation review.

Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)

Management of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Capacity Building Programme

The Department has a strategic partnership agreement with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The agreement aims to strengthen cooperation between us in a whole of-government approach to development work in the Asia–Pacific region.

Records of understanding under the agreement detail activities funded through Australia’s aid programme, along with accountability requirements. Two separate records of understanding cover AusAID’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Capacity Building Programme (SPSCBP) and the Emerging and Re emerging Zoonotic Disease Regional Initiative Programme (ERZDRIP).

The Department is funded to manage the SPSCBP and the ERZDRIP to deliver outputs set out in the two programmes’ design documents. Performance indicators for these arrangements are listed against each of the services in the records of understanding, as are all resource implications. Our management of these programmes is fully costed, including salaries, salary on costs, travel and other overheads.

All scheduled activities under the SPSCBP were implemented. AusAID accepted two formal reports and favourably reviewed the programme’s monitoring and evaluation framework. The programme will continue under current arrangements during 2007–08 and into 2008–09. We have been able to integrate delivery of this programme with the delivery of several bilateral projects (including projects that form part of the AusAID Public Sector Linkages Programme and that are jointly resourced by the Department, AusAID and other Australian Government agencies).

The ERZDRIP programme design document was reviewed to place greater emphasis on avian influenza preparedness. The agreed ERZDRIP activities have taken place, and AusAID has accepted progress reports.

National Measurement Institute

Analytical testing services

The National Residue Survey engages the National Measurement Institute (NMI) by competitive tender to provide analytical testing services. This is a fee for-service arrangement. The services vary according to the individual memorandum of understanding for each programme for which the institute is the successful tenderer. The contracts cover all accountability and resourcing aspects.

In 2006–07, the agreed activities were performed in accordance with contractual arrangements. The NMI was successful in the last round of competitive tendering for analytical testing services and will be providing these services for a number of our programmes this financial year.

Analysis of imported food

Under the Imported Food Control Act 1992, AQIS’s Imported Food Programme appoints laboratories and analysts able to carry out particular tests on imported food. Importers can choose from among those appointed by AQIS for the analysis of food samples taken during the inspection of imported food products. The NMI is one of the analysts appointed under the Act. The laboratory client, who pays for the analysis, is usually the importer.

However, goods for which a government to-government arrangement has been negotiated and which are imported under a Foreign Certification Arrangement are audited at a rate of 5%. In those cases, AQIS pays for the cost of the analysis and may elect to use the NMI’s services. In 2006–07, AQIS paid the NMI approximately $188,500 for such services.

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