Report from CSIRO Consultative Council 67

Report from CSIRO Consultative Council 67

The Consultative Council is a biannual meeting between CSIRO Executive, including CEO Megan Clark, and Staff Association representatives. These meetings are an opportunity for the Executive to seek input on proposals and for members to have high-level input to organisational wide processes and strategic decisions.

The meeting on 28 November discussed Regional Sites and SIP7 preparations. Members are encouraged to provide feedback below in the comments or by email to, as Executive deliberations are pending on both of these issues:

Report from the Regional Sites Working Group (RSWG): CES Deputy Chief Dan Walker presented a draft report from the RSWG which he chaired, and which also included four Staff Association representatives. The report addressed “What does a vibrant regional site look like?” and “Systemic gaps and barriers”, among other questions. The recommendations include:

• ensuring that each regional site has a plan for the future;

• expanding and supporting the OIC role;

• improving governance and oversight of regional sites;

• improving regional considerations in resource and capability planning ;

• enhancing visibility of our regional footprint.

All recommendations were generally well-received and were amended in a positive way for staff at the Consultative Council meeting. The recommendations will now be considered by CSIRO Executive, with a plan for implementation completed by February 2012. Deputy CEO Craig Roy advised that his expectation was that most recommendations could be implemented within 12 months.

Will the outcome be a halt to the decline felt at regional sites, particularly since the support services restructure and the introduction of the matrix? Only time will tell. The continued participation of staff will be critical!

For members at regional sites, stay tuned for more detailed information from your Staff Association delegate or organiser. The draft report is available on request. Provide feedback below or by email.

SIP7 planning and implementation: Megan Clark advised that the 2012/13 budget will be a ‘light touch’ relative to previous years, now the quadrennial funding from Government is in place. The intent will be that 60–80% of portfolio allocations in 2012-13 will continue at current levels, with allowance for cost increases.

It was acknowledged by CFO Hazel Bennett that doing high-level budgeting as well as staff allocations and at the same time (as has been the case in previous years) leads to uncertainty for staff and managers. As a result, SIP7 will follow a clearly delineated process:

(1) Stage 1 Enterprise Focus, where total expected revenue and expenses are transparent and determined before proceeding to Stage 2.

(2) Stage 2 Budget Component Focus, where depreciation and Enterprise Support Services expenses are reviewed and determined. The remaining funds are then put into the Science Component (Flagships and Divisions); and

(3) Stage 3 Science Investment Focus, where the science is prioritised and capability is mapped. This process should involve less detailed cases being developed for investment, as 60-80% will not be reviewed, but will be supported because of existing plans (CSIRO Strategy and Science Directions; Flagship, Divisional and Group plans).

While the capability mapping may be streamlined by removing budget iterations, Staff Association representatives reflected member concerns about the sense of insecurity and time consumed by spilling staff allocations every year. Currently staff in many divisions start the process with zero allocation, and spend months justifying project mappings along with the reconciliation of customised program spreadsheets with bulk Theme allocations extracted from SAP.

We posed the question whether the default starting position could instead be to continue current year flagship or theme mappings into the new financial year. This would enable a focus on how best to make use of capability within themes, and scoping changes to science directions desired by staff or flagships. Craig Roy advised that it was not yet known whether this was feasible but a number of approaches were currently being considered by the Executive.

He reported on a trial in CMIS where flagships/themes bought ‘bulk capability’ which was allocated to staff by the division, but at this stage, it was not planned to extend the CMIS trial organisation wide for SIP7. One suggestion which could start to reduce time wasted in staff mapping is to defaultallocate staff members who are currently 100% allocated within one flagship. That approach would have similarities to the changes to Effort Logging advocated by the Staff Association, which started with automatic logging for staff who logged 100% to one WBS number. Consultation is ongoing and relies on your input. Provide feedback below or by email.

November 2011, Scott Wilkinson, CSIRO Staff Association Councillor and Treasurer Elect (2012)