14 December 2018

The ARC is continuing its work on streamlining grant processes, and we are actively engaged in seeking your views about what aspects of our grant processes could be improved to increase their efficiency and simplicity. We have been pleased to receive a lot of positive feedback from stakeholders on our progress so far, and are actively monitoring and participating in conversations within the sector about changes that could be made.

On Monday 12 November, we co-hosted an NCGP Streamlining Workshop with the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) here at the ARC offices. We had attendees from the research offices (ROs) of 12 different universities, and were very pleased to also have the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) join us on the day. The topics covered were wide and varied, and included ideas for both pre-award and post-award administration. Kylie Emery, ARC’s Branch Manager Policy and Strategy, facilitated and Ross McLennan, ARMS President-elect, motivated everyone to action with his welcome on the day. 

The ARC is collating the ideas from this workshop and will look at what we can do immediately, what might need a bit more unpacking or consultation, as well as what timing will be appropriate. Where there are ideas that aren’t able to be implemented, we will provide information as to why that is the case. Overall, we received terrific feedback, and will ensure that we keep looking for ways to keep ARMS involved as we move forward with our streamlining activities.

Following the annual Research Administrators’ Seminar, held this year on 1 November, we also sent out a survey to attendees and look forward to seeing what suggestions arise from that day, which was itself a great avenue for hearing the views of our research administrator community.

As part of the work to prepare for these events, we did a stocktake of achievements in grants streamlining over the last twelve months. These changes and improvements include:

  • moving to a Whole-of Government Grant Guidelines template, which improved consistency with the Guidelines of other Commonwealth agencies 
  • reconsideration of the Guidelines document content for improved readability (i.e. what schemes are included in a set of Guidelines)
  • improvements to the consistency of language, definitions and the provisions across the Guidelines for all schemes and programs
  • removal of the Eligibility Exemption Requests process and replaced with a self-assessing model 
  • review of the application forms to improve consistency, clarity, and to ensure we only ask necessary questions
  • an update to the Assessor Handbook for clarity and ease of use 
  • introduction of eligibility functionality to help ROs identify potentially ineligible applications, as well as provide improved information and guidance for the application process
  • implementing auto-population of research output data from ORCID, BibTeX or DOI into the application forms.

Further details about improvements to eligibility management in the Research Management System (RMS) and the auto-population of research outputs is given in the article New changes to streamline RMS, also in this edition of ARChway.