The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science provided the Statement of Expectations to CSIRO on 18 November 2016. The CSIRO Board responded with its Statement of Intent outlining how CSIRO will meet these expectations.

A PDF of the original letter containing the Statement of Expectations and the responding Statement of Intent is available to all staff.

On behalf of the CSIRO Board, I am pleased to respond to the Statement of Expectations from previous Minister Hunt, with CSIRO’s Statement of Intent.

As you know, CSIRO remains committed to working closely with the Government, industry, universities and the community to tackle the nation’s biggest challenges and forge new ground in breakthrough science for the future.

We support the details outlined in the Statement of Expectations and it is our strong intent to work with you and the Department to achieve these expectations for the prosperity of Australia.

We have taken this opportunity to reaffirm some specific areas from the Statement of Expectations.


We strongly support the unified vision of the Government, CSIRO staff and the community to continue to play a role as a premier public research organisation. It is our vision to be Australia’s innovation catalyst, collaborating to translate excellent science into breakthrough solutions that secure a prosperous and vibrant future for our nation – working with all parts of the scientific research community. It is our intent to play a pivotal role at all stages of the science and technology cycle: supporting STEM education, encouraging deep research, mentoring entrepreneurial translation and investing in breakthrough innovations.

We are very committed to ensuring we are an employer of choice, a preferred collaboration partner and a trusted advisor. For example, we will soon roll out an ‘All Roles Flex’ initiative to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace of the future, and continue to work towards the diversity benchmarks in the SAGE program.


CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 directs our science to create economic, environmental and social benefit for Australia. Since its earliest days in 1916, CSIRO has applied a mandatory test to all of our investments to ensure they deliver national benefit – if we do not believe it is going to benefit the nation, then we do not do it. We are also focused on strengthening existing industries and creating new ones, while deepening our work with small and medium enterprises. We want to expand our knowledge of the Australian environment, while delivering technologies to balance our future needs as a nation. We also must harness new and emerging knowledge to equip Australians with the skills, solutions and advice to make informed decisions and improve their lives in a diverse and data-driven world.


From our foundation of scientific knowledge, CSIRO will continue to provide expertise and advice as part of a collaborative approach with industry, universities, government and other public research organisations, as well as the general public.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) has created new opportunities for collaboration in science by expanding our sci-tech accelerator, ON, to embrace and promote the cutting-edge research generated in our national universities. It also established the CSIRO Innovation Fund to invest in start-up and spin off companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated through the publicly funded research sector. This is important as we build more ways to realise the value from the outstanding research from our nation’s scientists.

Our collaborative research activities include our science precincts, NISA measures supporting deep connections between Data61 and government and industry, and our strategic collaborations with key customers. We will also further deepen our partnerships with universities through our shared role in training graduates capable of both pure and applied research in collaboration with industry.

Our commitment to increasing the global outlook of Australia’s world-class research and innovative businesses to deliver national benefit will both deepen and broaden our engagement with partners. Science and industrial research is now a global discipline and we must build key global partnerships. This will be enhanced through the establishment of an overseas presence in key regions including the US and Asia to enable enduring strategic relationships and support engagement with the pre-eminent organisations in the international scientific and industrial community.

Across CSIRO, our work is aligned with key industry sectors and major national challenges, in particular those identified in the Government’s National Science and Research Priorities, and the Industry Knowledge Priorities identified by the Industry Growth Centres (IGCs). We also work closely with the Chief Scientist to ensure a national approach to supporting our scientists and seeing the benefits returned to Australians. This includes research in the areas of: plant biology and agriculture; health, food and nutrition; biosecurity; climate change science, mitigation and adaptation research; environmental research and technologies for air, land, water and oceans; resources, mining equipment and energy sectors; astronomy and space; advanced manufacturing; and digital and advanced data management.

Our role in undertaking climate research relevant to all Australians will be further enhanced through the CSIRO Climate Science Centre, which will bring together core capability in climate modelling and observations of the atmosphere and ocean. The mission of the Centre is to deliver the climate knowledge Australia needs to respond to a variable and changing climate.


Our focus at CSIRO is to be one of the world’s most multidisciplinary research organisations delivering excellent science at scale to solve national challenges through our industry focused Business Units   and our commercial CSIRO Services.

These include the most significant challenges facing society today and tomorrow, from ensuring the future of the Great Barrier Reef to supporting healthier, safer and more sustainable food. Our world class National Facilities and Collections, managed on behalf of the Australian and international research community, continue to provide access to knowledge critical to understanding our world and the universe, from the depth of our oceans to the emergence of the first stars and galaxies. Our custodianship of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory and deep resident expertise in biocontainment remain integral to the nation’s defence against profound and potentially widespread animal and human disease.

In seeking to be Australia’s innovation catalyst, CSIRO will continue to drive cultural change and global outreach across the organisation, with flow on impact to our partners and customers. We must be a values-led organisation with outstanding science and research.

Additionally, through entrepreneurial training programs like ON, CSIRO will support and incentivise its people to take measured commercial and scientific risks and to encourage a resilient culture of creative solutions and sharing lessons to continually strive for success. This will be guided by our customer first approach of deeper engagement with, and stronger understanding of, our partners’ needs in industry, research and the community.

We continue to attract and cultivate a diverse and world-class staff, and increase their mobility to work with partners and collaborators.


CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 sets out clear measures of success, consistent with ensuring Australia has robust scientific education programs, career opportunities, research endeavours, innovative applications, and tangible benefits across the community.

Building on our foundations of excellence in science and research, we will strive to deliver these outcomes through strengthening the customer first and market focus through our organisation, collaborating with partners with a global outlook to deliver national benefit, and translating our work into breakthrough innovation for national benefit.

This is driven by our commitment to excellent science and a culture of safety, inclusion, trust and respect, including initiatives for supporting STEM in schools, engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and tackling the under-representation of women in STEM leadership.

Future Vision

CSIRO’s strong history of scientific achievement is a solid foundation for transforming into Australia’s innovation catalyst and meeting the needs of a rapidly changing world. Our science will continue to tackle the challenges faced by Australia today, outlined in the National Science and Research Priorities, while breaking new ground in emerging fields of research through our Future Science Platforms.

We are dedicated to working more closely in partnership with government, universities, industry and research with existing partners as well as seeking out new ones. And our global outlook for national benefit will increase benefits to Australians from our science, deepen the returns to Australia, and strengthen the capabilities of our people, who will move seamlessly between CSIRO and its partners in industry, research institutions, universities and government.


CSIRO is focused on delivering on the functions of Science and Industry Research Act (1949) and the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act (2013). CSIRO’s leadership, including the CSIRO Board and the Executive Team, will drive our delivery of these commitments through good governance, effective management, a positive culture and clear direction. On behalf of the Board, I will provide you with our Corporate Plan, as well as an Annual Report.

We will ensure that you are kept informed of significant activities in CSIRO in a timely manner, including through regular briefings on significant issues considered by the Board as well as regular meetings with the Chief Executive. We will continually measure our progress and refine our approach with new levels of accountability, tracking key performance outcomes.

The Chief Executive will continue to ensure appropriate communication arrangements remain in place with your Portfolio Secretary and Department, and CSIRO will continue to provide support to the Commonwealth Science Council; as well as to engage with the Chief Scientist of Australia through the National Science, Technology and Research Committee; and with the Office of Innovation and Science Australia.   


As Chairman, and on behalf of the Board, we are committed to implementing this Statement of Intent across the organisation for the benefit of all Australians.

With your support and the contributions of our collaborators and partners, we will build on CSIRO’s world class reputation to become Australia’s innovation catalyst and one of the world’s premier publicly funded research organisations.

We feel privileged to have this opportunity to provide governance and leadership for CSIRO and we thank you for the opportunity.

David Thodey AO

1 May 2017

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