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Management and accountability

Government engagement

In 2019–20, our staff held regular meetings with ministers, parliamentarians and senior people from relevant government departments to discuss their needs, share research activities and provide scientific information. We also provided advice to inform policy development and program implementation and evaluation.

During the last financial year, we made 10 submissions to parliamentary inquiries and our staff provided information at 12 inquiry hearings. Inquiry topics included the nuclear industry in Australia; establishing the Square Kilometre Array Observatory; growing agriculture to a $100 billion industry by 2030; FinTech and RegTech in Australia; Australia’s Waste Management and Recycling Industries; land management policy, practice and legislation and their effect on bushfires and risk to property, life and the environment; deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia; lessons to be learned in relation the Australian bushfire season 2019–20; and the response to the drought, and the adequacy and appropriateness of policies and measures to support farmers, regional communities and the Australian economy.

Legislation and government policy

We are a Corporate Commonwealth entity constituted and operating under the provisions of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 (SIR Act).

Our primary functions are to carry out scientific research to:

  • assist Australian industry and to further the interests of the Australian community
  • contribute to national and international objectives and responsibilities of the Commonwealth
  • encourage or facilitate the application and use of the results of CSIRO scientific research.

Our secondary functions include international scientific liaison, training of research workers, publishing research results, making available scientific facilities, technology transfer of other research, providing scientific services and disseminating information about science and technology.

Reporting, accountability and other rules for our operations are set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

Pursuant to section 19 (1) (e) of the PGPA Act, we have had no instances of significant non compliance with finance law in 2019–20.

We also provide administrative support services to the Trustee of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) consistent with the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926. SIEF has its own governance structure (read more at Trustee's report).

There were no government policy orders to CSIRO during 2019–20.

Responsible Minister

CSIRO is an agency within the Industry, Sciences, Energy and Resources portfolio.

As at 30 June 2020, the responsible Minister for CSIRO was the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

Image of Karen Andrews wearing a black top with a black patterned jacket and white pearls. She has blonde hair, dark pink lipstick and is smiling at the camera
Hon Karen Andrews MP

Under the SIR Act, the Minister has power to:

  • add to the functions of CSIRO; provide to the CSIRO Board, in writing, directions and guidelines with respect to the performance of the functions, or the exercise of the powers, of the Board or of CSIRO (SIR Act, section 13(1)).

On 13 February 2020, Minister Andrews issued a Statement of Expectations to CSIRO to provide greater clarity about relevant government policies, objectives and priorities. Focus areas in the Statement included resolving national challenges for a competitive Australia, working collaboratively to advance Australian industry, translation of research and commercialisation, embracing the digital economy and promoting STEM careers and STEM equity. The CSIRO Board responded with its Statement of Intent outlining how CSIRO intends to meet these expectations on 6 May 2020. These documents are available at www.csiro.au/About/Leadership-governance/ Minister-and-Board/Statement-of-Expectations and www.csiro.au/About/Leadership-governance/ Minister-and-Board/Statement-of-Intent.

Ministerial directions and notifications

On 15 July 2014, the Minister directed the CSIRO Board to apply the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy to Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations in CSIRO. During 2019–20, CSIRO kept its responsible Minister and the Minister for Finance informed of the activities of CSIRO through our Board and in accordance with section 19(1)(a) of the PGPA Act.

In April, as part of COVID-19 measures, the Government placed a six-month pause on wage increases for non-Senior Executive Services Commonwealth public sector employees to remain in effect for 12 months. While this pause applies to Australian Public Service (APS) agencies, the Government’s expectation is that non-APS Commonwealth entities and agencies would also implement a six-month wage pause, to the extent available to them.