As a statutory authority, the FRDC has a legislative obligation to ensure its investments in R&D projects deliver benefits for its stakeholders. however, measuring these can be difficult for a range of reasons including the duration and complexity of the project, what to measure from it and what the impacts may be.
First, how quickly project results are adopted can vary because of the nature of knowledge generated and how motivated end users are towards risk and their capacity to implement changes in their businesses. This can result in a delay between adopting new knowledge and when increased economic, environmental or social benefits are realised.
Second, it can be difficult to decide what to measure and how. some funded projects aim for profit, some seek to develop new processes or products, while others want greater cultural connections, outcomes for recreation, and environmental and/or community wellbeing.
Third, when measuring impact, it can be complicated to show what change or improvement is attributable to FRDC’s investment and what has been influenced by external factors such as exchange rates, environmental change, or unrelated marketing campaigns.
Inputs are easier to measure than outcomes. Inputs are either the quantity of funds invested or the number of projects funded. submissions for funding are evaluated by FRDC’s advisory groups and approved or not.
The FRDC conducts regular evaluation of the benefits and costs associated with its investments as part of guidelines to measure the results of R&D activities by the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (CRRDC). methods used to measure benefits and costs are based on work by the Department of Finance for undertaking cost-benefit analysis and alternative evaluation methodologies.
In the most recent analysis (2019), in which 20 projects that concluded between 2016 and 2018 were examined, it was found that an investment of $16.15 million delivered $92.21 million in benefits. notably, not all value derived from projects is monetary, and the analysis did not estimate non-monetary value.
During the life of this R&D Plan, the FRDC will develop a new performance measurement framework to assess progress against the five outcomes, as well as its corporate performance. Proposed expansion of national fishing and aquaculture accounting metrics under enabling strategy V (Provide foundational information and support services) will help tracking of environmental, social and economic metrics beyond GVP, employment and target stock sustainability. the framework will be adaptive and updated as new information becomes available and what is considered the ‘benchmark for best practice’ changes.