17 December 2020

As introduced in our last issue of ARChway, Research Grants Services (RGS) is now up and running, with the ARC providing research grants administration services to other Government entities.

The ARC works collaboratively with other Commonwealth entities to improve consistency in grants administration, a recent example being the ARC updated ethics clearance requirements which are now the same across the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and ARC. Our aim in this work is to improve the experience of researchers, research office and project staff in applying for and managing competitive research grants.

Feedback from other Australian Government entities is that they would like to ensure that they fund high quality excellent research. They would like their research grants to go through an assessment process similar to that of the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). Other entities have expressed an interest in using ARC’s Research Management System (RMS). This would ensure that universities managing grants are able to use a system they have confidence in.

Research programs supported by the ARC on behalf of other entities are fully funded by the other government entity and meet that entities’ objectives. The ARC is flexible in the services it delivers which would be able to meet other entities' grants program requirements.

The ARC will always work with our partner entities to improve and streamline their experience of grants administration and this may mean that grants look and feel similar to a NCGP scheme, even though they are quite different in other ways.

Non-ARC grant programs supported by the ARC

The ARC has commenced grants services for three client agencies. Two are a managed end-to-end service for the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and the Department of Defence (Defence) who are funding the National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grants (NISDRG) program. The third provides the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) with access to and support to use our Research Management System (RMS) for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) program.

Providing a managed service for the NISDRG program means that while the ARC will undertake most of the administration of the program, ONI and Defence will continue to hold policy responsibility, will approve the grants, will also be responsible for funding and paying the grants.

Under this managed service arrangement, the Grant Agreements are between administering organisations and ONI and Defence, and the payments will also be made by ONI and Defence. Many other aspects of the program will operate similarly to a NCGP scheme. This has been done purposefully so that those entities can leverage the ARC’s expertise, corporate capabilities and make the most of RMS. More importantly, the aim is to provide consistency, as far as practicable, for those applying for and managing funded grants from NCGP or the NISDRG program.

The software as a service arrangement with DESE for NCRIS does not require the ARC to administer the grants offered by DESE. ARC staff provide support for DESE staff in using RMS, and the RMS Support Helpdesk supports NCRIS grantee staff and researchers who use RMS to report on NCRIS grants to DESE.

This is a significant milestone for the ARC. We hope the work undertaken on Research Grants Services will provide a solid foundation for future managed services and provide for excellent research to be funded by the broader Commonwealth – beyond the ARC and the NCGP.