The ANAO Audit Report No. 51 of 2001/02, Research Project Management, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, assessed the effectiveness of CSIRO in administering research projects to deliver required results. The audit made nine recommendations designed to improve project management in CSIRO. The purpose of this follow-up audit was to assess the extent to which CSIRO has implemented the recommendations of the previous audit and of the JCPAA.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) manages some 4500 research projects each year, at a cost of $824 million in 2003–04.
The ANAO Audit Report No.51 of 2001–02, Research Project Management–Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, assessed the effectiveness of CSIRO in administering research projects to deliver required results. The audit made nine recommendations designed to improve project management in CSIRO.
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA), subsequent to reviewing the audit report, also made a recommendation in regard to CSIRO's project management. It recommended that CSIRO develop and implement a consistent and coherent model of project management.
The purpose of this follow-up audit was to assess the extent to which CSIRO has implemented the recommendations of the previous audit and of the JCPAA.
Key findings against specific recommendations of the previous audit are summarised in the following table.
Table 1: Progress in implementing recommendations of the previous audit
CSIRO has implemented two of the nine recommendations made by the previous audit and the recommendation of the JCPAA. CSIRO has made progress in implementing five of the other recommendations. One recommendation relating to recording the achievement of milestones, and part of a recommendation relating to the use of explicit criteria in selecting projects have not been implemented.
CSIRO is continuing to enhance project management in the areas subject to recommendations in the previous audit. This follow-up audit includes some suggestions to assist in this process.
Overall, CSIRO's management of research projects has improved. The establishment of a corporate framework and policies for project management underpins improvements. CSIRO also documents how projects align with research priorities, more consistently plans and costs projects and more systematically conducts post-project reviews.
However, full implementation of some recommendations is hampered by shortcomings in the quality of management information. This limits CSIRO's ability to monitor the extent to which projects are delivered on time and to budget. Furthermore, despite CSIRO's efforts to ensure compliance, there remain a number of important aspects of its new framework which are not implemented in practice, in particular the use of project plans and project risk assessments.
CSIRO welcomes this Follow-up audit by ANAO to Audit Report No.51 of 2001–02, Research Project Management—CSIRO.
We are continuing to place strong emphasis on improving project management skills and practices across CSIRO, and believe that this report highlights the positive changes that have occurred over the past two years. Further initiatives are either currently in progress or planned for the short term that will address the incomplete matters raised by ANAO in the initial audit and suggestions raised in this follow-up audit.