Our performance against the planned activities within our four-year Strategy.

Our CSIRO 2011–15 Strategy is underpinned by five strategic pillars:

  • National Research Flagships
  • Science Excellence and Preparedness
  • Deep Collaboration and Connection
  • Innovation Organisation
  • Trusted Advisor.

Our Operational Plan 2014–15 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2014–15 respond to our Strategy, providing an overview of the priorities, programs, change initiatives and other key activities to be undertaken, along with the resources to implement these during the final year of our Strategy.

Operational plan

Our Operational Plan 2014–15 identified nine Key Executive Actions (KEAs) to progress our CSIRO Strategy. These actions are designed to focus our Board and Executive Team’s attention on the Organisation’s most important priorities for the year.

An overview of the results achieved for these actions is provided below.

Strategic Objective 1: National Research Flagships

Focus and increase the Organisation’s resources invested in delivering profound impact in response to national challenges and opportunities through the National Research Flagships program.

Impact science line of business

Finalise and communicate the formation of the nine new Flagships as CSIRO’s key vehicle to deliver profound national impact. Complete the transition to focus our resources invested through the National Research Flagship Program. Embed the Impact 2020 planning, monitoring and evaluation framework and accountabilities to a consistent standard across all Flagships.

The consolidation of our project and capability management teams has been completed through our structural reform, merging Divisions and Flagships into nine Flagships from 1 July 2014. All but one Flagship has finalised its strategic plan presented to the Science, Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee (SICOM) in October 2014. The finalisation of the Digital Productivity Strategic Plan was delayed pending confirmation of the relationship and structural arrangements with NICTA. Draft impact statements were completed as part of the Flagship planning process and continue to be refined. When finalised, they will form a key part of the Supporting the Research Operating Model (SROM) system architecture that links our impact objectives with research activity.

Strategic Objective 2: Science Excellence and Preparedness

Invest in people and infrastructure to maintain and develop national scientific breadth and depth in support of delivering profound impact and scientific preparedness.

Science platforms

Flagships will complete and commence implementation of approved science direction and capability plans covering workforce and talent, global science standing, infrastructure, collaborations (internal and external) and future science platforms aligned with their Flagship goals and impact objectives.

All but one Flagship has finalised its strategic plan, which includes approved science direction and capability plans. The appointment of Science Directors as part of Flagship leadership teams from 1 July 2014 provides business unit leadership on science and capability development. Work undertaken as part of the CSIRO Strategy 2020 places emphasis on investment in future science platforms aligned to impact objectives. This has been further operationalised during the year, through the establishment of a Science Council to support integrated science planning through SICOM.

Strategic Objective 3: Deep Collaboration and Connection

Build deep connections with and among the best partners in Australia and the world to complement our science capability and accelerate impact delivery.

National Research Facilities and Collections

Finalise the formation of the National Facilities and Collections line of business, and commence implementation of a strategy to optimise infrastructure utilisation and condition that will support a long term sustainable funding model for these assets.

The National Facilities and Collections Strategic Plan was endorsed during the year by SICOM, including funding models for each of the business units. Key potential user groups and other stakeholders have been identified, and an engagement strategy for approaching the scientific and broader community is being developed. Long term funding options will continue to be progressed as part of the sustainable positioning of CSIRO’s National Facilities and Collections. Our response to government on Marine Research Vessel (MRV) cost recovery regime applied to supplementary days was accepted by the government as part of the Budget process. Discussions continue on future co-funding for Australian Animal and Health Laboratories (AAHL), including cost recovery models.

Finalise the formation of the CSIRO Commercial Services line of business including the development and commencement of a strategy that transitions the line to budget neutrality by 2016–17.

The CSIRO Services line of business (LoB) structure is in place and operational. During the year SICOM considered a draft strategic plan, which was endorsed in principle. Additional assessment of future business model options will be considered next financial year by the Chief Finance Officer and CSIRO Executive Team. The strategic plan and business models will be finalised early next financial year.


Deliver CSIRO Precincts in line with individual precinct plans with commitment from key collaborators and partners, with a particular focus during the year on progressing the Canberra and Clayton Precincts and re-positioning our efforts in the Parkville Precinct.

Redevelopment of the Black Mountain and Clayton sites is underway, with the Canberra Precinct officially launched by the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry and Science, on 5 December 2014. As announced by Minister Macfarlane in September 2014, the Clayton Precinct received SIEF funds to leverage a Biomedical Materials Translational Facility as part of a biomed consortium. The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council recently located their headquarters at Clayton providing greater opportunities for research and industry collaboration. The Perth Precinct has established an Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility with several joint appointments in place between research partners, CSIRO, University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University. A decision was reached during the year to relocate staff based at Parkville to CSIRO’s existing site at Clayton with Monash University. See page 21 for more details.

Business development and key partnerships

Build industry research alliances, active licenses and the proportion of external funding from industry sources:

a. Increase the total value of long term strategic partnership agreements with industry by 10 per cent.

During 2014–15, the total value of partnership engagements increased by 34 per cent, from $135 million to $181 million. This is due primarily to an increase in the value of the Boeing relationship and two new industry partnerships. Discussions on potential new alliances continue, with various opportunities being progressed on a project basis.

b. Increase the number of active licences by 15 per cent, and increase the proportion of licenses to Australian small-medium enterprises.

As at 30 June 2015, the number of patent and active licences was 277, a 3.8 per cent decrease over the same time last year. This decrease is due to the expiration of a significant number of short term licences, including adopter licenses and evaluations relating to digital technologies. During the last three years, 147 of these licenses were revenue generating. While CSIRO has typically replenished licenses at a similar rate as natural attrition, the CSIRO Strategy 2020 will aim to significantly increase its licensing activity over the next five years. For details of our Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio see page 30.

c. Maintain our customers’ current ‘willingness to recommend’ result of 8.4 out of 10.

For the third consecutive year we received high satisfaction ratings from customers, recording an average of 8.2 out of 10 in 2014–15. While this was slightly below the 8.4 target, the result is still positive when compared with similar peers and institutions. The top three reasons for such high results are the quality of our science, the high calibre of our staff, and finding CSIRO an organisation great to deal with. This result is based on a total of 137 responses, approximately 50 fewer than last year.

Strategic Objective 4: Innovation Organisation

Boost our capacity to operate as one organisation to respond to the changing nature of science; deliver profound impact and build capability for the future.

Integrated Reform Program

Finalise successful implementation of CSIRO’s Integrated Reform Program objectives to realise staff wellbeing, productivity and efficiency benefits, with a focus in the financial year on:

a. Delivery against agreed program objectives charter and project plan, with progress towards desired benefits being realised.

During 2014–15 significant progress was made in delivering key Integrated Reform Program work-stream elements, including the implementation of ‘Lines of Business Model’, ‘Supporting Science Excellence & Investment Prioritisation’ and ‘Impact Focus’. The reform has been a significant, once-in-a-decade change program, with activities being delivered and adapted based on staff feedback and other environmental factors. The delivery of the work-stream elements, ‘Business Process’ and the ‘Support Function Reform’, has not been as expected. This was due to competing priorities focussing on the delivery of reform elements including development of the CSIRO Strategy 2020 and CSIRO’s innovation catalyst program called ‘ON’.

b. Continue to manage and support staff and leadership transitions through the reform process, and maintain staff engagement as measured through staff surveys.

A staff survey was undertaken in August-September 2014, with results indicating a drop in engagement during the period. This was expected given the level of organisational restructure occurring at the time. A follow-up survey is proposed for early 2016, to assess for a longer term trend. An internal audit in April 2015 on ‘Role Clarity and Core Controls’ provided a favourable assessment of the adequacy and operational efficiency of new leadership and line management roles. Staff engagement in the development of the CSIRO Strategy 2020 during the year provided a number of opportunities for staff to interact with leaders and others, including a crowd-sourcing activity in which over 40 per cent of staff participated.

c. Implementation of staff wellbeing initiatives including Pearce Review Phase 1 and 2 recommendations and deployment of the Fatality Prevention Strategy initiatives.

Implementation of the Pearce Review Phase 1 and 2 recommendations is complete, and education and training activities are ongoing. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and Workplace Expectations eLearning modules were released as part of the D&I and Wellbeing Plan. Fatality prevention strategy milestones have been completed, including activities relating to all-Terrain Vehicles, and together with a significant component of Forklifts and electrical work. A re-evaluation of the fatality risk project has been completed to ensure current priority risks align with the organisational risk profile.

d. Finalise, implement and embed process, system and incentive improvements through the Supporting the Research Operating Model (SROM) project to facilitate the seamless collaboration across organisational boundaries.

High level processes for the SROM architecture have been finalised and endorsed by the reference group and steering committee. The design for the project and activity management processes is ongoing. The first release of the supporting system is expected in October 2015. Detailed planning for staff communications, process change management and IT system requirement gathering has commenced, and a base set of user guides and support materials has been developed. Amendments to the revenue recognition methodology will be implemented from 1 July 2015.

Staff engagement in the development of the CSIRO Strategy 2020 during the year provided a number of opportunities for staff to interact with leaders and others.

Productivity, efficiency and sustainable funding

Deliver the 2014–15 budget with particular emphasis on the full and timely completion of the redundancy and savings program. Achieve an agreed position with key stakeholders on property rationalisation to reduce the fixed cost base of the organisation and optimise funding to science. Develop long term cash flow and capital plans as input to the development of, and final alignment with, the 2015–25 CSIRO Strategy and 2015–16 four year budget.

Unaudited results are within 1 per cent of the total expenditure budget and within $2.6 million of the approved loss position of $12.7 million. The financial offer for the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) has been informally approved by the Department of Finance with other parts of the EBA awaiting approval before full clearance is provided. The Property Strategy continues to be developed. Cash forecasting accuracy has improved, with planning now extending to a four year horizon.

Strategic Objective 5: Trusted Advisor

Play a leading role in the trusted delivery of scientific evidence, advice and interpretation to the Australian government, public and industry.

CSIRO Strategy 2015–25

Develop and progress a robust 2015–25 CSIRO Strategic Plan to position the organisation for longer term differentiation and sustainability, in particular leading a process to:

a. Engage Government, industry and research stakeholders to ensure endorsement and resourcing of CSIRO’s Strategy and associated growth options.

The new Chief Executive’s strategy perspectives were shared with the Executive Team and Board and integrated into a revised strategy development approach for an iterative, open source and participative process. More than 7000 staff, customers, thought leaders and other stakeholders, including the public, were engaged for ideas and input to strategy questions.

  1. Staff involvement was via a successful crowd-sourcing activity in which over 40 per cent of staff participated, providing more than 715 ideas and 7200 comments and votes.
  2. More than 200 customer, advisory committee and thought-leader conversations were held, including senior stakeholder events and a general public survey.

Staff involvement in the new strategy provided more than 715 ideas and 7200 comments and votes.

b. Further articulate our future impact, market, science direction, capability and property directions.

Following input, analysis and decision, the Executive Team agreed to strategy actions, themes and initiatives to articulate key strategic shifts out to 2020, with a focus on CSIRO as an innovation catalyst. These directions have been articulated in the CSIRO Strategy 20201 and will be reflected in internal planning processes over the coming year.

c. Identify areas of global priority and CSIRO’s approach to manage and service international operations.

During the year we prioritised CSIRO’s international focus for the next five years as part of the new CSIRO Strategy 2020. As part of that process, the organisation agreed to specific priority countries and options for physical presence and partnering. Our priority regions recognise the increasing economic strength of economies in Asia and South America. Their investments in research present both industry and science collaboration opportunities for CSIRO, which will in turn provide national benefit. Our historical ties to Europe and North America remain strong, while we will accelerate our overall rates of international engagement and operations to capture the higher potential impact value return to Australia. For more details on stakeholder engagement see page 25.

Enterprise strategy measures

At CSIRO, we adopt a number of mechanisms to monitor overall progress against our strategy, including reporting against ten Enterprise Strategy Measures (ESMs). These measures are designed to provide evidence of our performance across four dimensions critical to the success of our CSIRO Strategy 2011–15:

  • IMPACT: Delivering results with relevance and impact across areas of importance for Australia
  • SCIENCE: Performing high-quality science
  • PEOPLE: Building and maintaining strong relationships with customers, staff and other stakeholders
  • RESOURCES: Effective resourcing of CSIRO’s activities.

A summary of actions taken and progress achieved against our ESMs is provided below.


Develop measures in 2011–12 for benchmarking our performance for delivery of triple-bottom-line impact through evaluating realised benefits. Be recognised as one of the top three global applied science organisations by 2014–15 for impact delivery as measured against our 20 global peers.

In terms of our scientific knowledge and impact, we are performing as well as, or better than, most of our global peers (top three). The level of CSIRO publications in the top 1 per cent of most cited is nearly three times higher than the average 4. Analysis of Normalised Citation Impact indicates we maintained our rank of second for a third year in a row.

Similarly, in our delivery of scientific solutions that contribute to significant economic, environmental and social impact for Australia, our scale and reach compares favourably with our peers. An analysis of patent filings registered in the World Intellectual Property Database indicates that we have dropped in ranking among our global peers as a result of increased filings from Asian institutes. However, we are still Australia’s largest patent holder (1854 granted patents) with 30 to 40 per cent of our patent families the result of collaborative activity with external parties.

Evidence of our impact is demonstrated in the achievements in Program 1, pages 28–61.

Develop future impact pipelines for at least 80 per cent of the Flagship Portfolio by June 2012. Evaluate potential triple-bottom-line value for at least 50 per cent of the Flagship future pipeline by June 2013 and 80 per cent by June 2014. Deliver Flagships’ goals at a rate meeting or exceeding initial time-to-goal expectations.

This year 100 per cent of the Flagship portfolio developed impact pipelines and plans. This activity is transitioning successfully to a business-as-usual status across the organisation, as we embed it as part of our Planning and Performance Framework and research operating model architecture.

From 1 July 2014, the organisation transitioned from 11 to nine Flagships. Over the financial period new Flagship goals and supporting strategies were developed and approved by SICOM. This process included establishing new impact objectives, aimed at clearly identifying the pathways through which our science outputs, linked with well-defined outcomes, will lead to impacts aligned with Flagship goals. By retaining our triple-bottom-line approach to impact, the organisation has been able to further build staff capacity in planning, monitoring and evaluation, strongly increasing our ability to track and report our performance.

Baseline customers’ willingness to recommend in 2011–12 and improve our performance year-on-year over the Strategy.

Over the strategy period, we received high satisfaction ratings from customers, with an average of 8.3 out of 10 of the three years we conducted the survey. The top three reasons for the high rating are: the quality of our science, high calibre of staff, and seeing CSIRO as an organisation ‘great to deal with’. The areas consistently identified for improvement over the term of the strategy include: our contracts, legal and admin processes, pricing structure and project management and delivery. The survey results provide valuable insight on our performance and inform improvements to our business and project management processes and services, including cost, that are already underway as part of the SROM architecture development.

Increase community awareness of impact derived from CSIRO activities from the established baseline of 50 per cent in 2010–11 to 75 per cent by 2014–15.

In 2015, CSIRO commissioned a community awareness and attitudes study, which reported that 39 per cent of the sample could name at least one contribution they believe CSIRO has made to their lives. This result was a slight increase from the 2012–13 period (38 per cent), but a slight decrease from 2011–12. Our aim is to draw on the additional findings from the survey to inform us about how to come closer to the 75 per cent target.

An overwhelming majority (89 per cent) of Australians are aware of CSIRO, which is also a slight downward trend compared with previous years. Awareness is higher among older Australians; 99 per cent of Australians aged 55 and over are aware of CSIRO, compared with 76 per cent aged 34 and under. Yet, consistent with previous studies, a majority (63 per cent) of Australians still have a positive perception of CSIRO, 28 per cent viewing the organisation very positively and 35 per cent positively.

For further details please see Agriculture Flagship in Program 1: National Research Flagships, Science and Services.


Science quality is maintained or improved in Environment and Ecology, Agricultural Sciences, Plant and Animal Sciences and Geosciences as measured through benchmarking against global peers (science productivity, citations per paper, collaboration). CSIRO maintains breadth in at least 14 fields in the top one per cent globally based on ISI/Thomson Reuters total citation data.

CSIRO is ranked in the top 0.1 per cent of global institutions in Plant and Animal Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Environment and Ecology and Geosciences, based on total citations. In addition, we rank in the top one per cent globally in a further eleven research fields. This number increased from 14 last year to 15 this year.

Overall, our citation impact has consistently improved over the past decade, with CSIRO articles cited performing 48 per cent better than the global average for the period 2010–14, a one per cent rise on the period 2009–13.

Further, when comparing all articles of the same type and in the same subject for the period 2009–13 (based on percentile performance), 2.9 per cent of CSIRO publications were in the top one per cent of articles globally, 10.5 per cent in the top five per cent and 18.4 per cent in the top 10 per cent. This is an improvement across all three levels since 2009–13. These results demonstrate that our science excellence and outputs are highly competitive against global peers.

For more information on our publication output and citation impact see pages 32–33.

Progress towards establishing precincts of global standing in the Plant and Agricultural Sciences, Resource Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Materials and Manufacturing Sciences and Human Life Sciences meets Precinct Development Plans by 2014–15.

The precincts are now established, with core relationships and governance in place with key partners, and broadening stakeholder engagement. The Canberra Precinct (Plant and Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Sciences) was officially launched by the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry and Science, on 5 December 2014. The Canberra Precinct received funds of $18 million for an ANU and CSIRO Centre for Genomics, Metabolomics and Bioinformatics collaborative facility and to assist in development of a new life sciences building.

The Perth Precinct (Resource Sciences) has now established an Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility for which it received $12.4 million in 2014. The Centre includes new NanoSIMS, Maia Mapper and Geoscience Atom Probe instruments. An inaugural workshop was held on 18 June. The Clayton Precinct (Materials and Manufacturing Sciences) received SIEF funds of $10 million, announced by Minister Macfarlane in September 2014, to leverage a Biomedical Materials Translational Facility, part of a biomed consortium worth approximately $46 million, which brings together CSIRO, Monash University and 20 industry players. The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council (AAMC) recently located its headquarters in the CSIRO Ian Wark Laboratory at Clayton, providing excellent opportunities for linking researchers and industry. The Clayton Manufacturing team was awarded the Committee for Melbourne 2015 Melbourne Achiever Award at the 30th anniversary dinner in April 2015, for a significant and sustained contribution to Melbourne. The University of Melbourne and CSIRO steering committee for the Human Life Sciences Precint at Parkville was reconstituted following the CSIRO restructure 1 July 2014. The steering committee continues to meet quarterly, and the relationship has led to two joint appointments in the material science area.


Number of fatalities or major injuries of CSIRO people. Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates and Medical Treatment Frequency Rate improves year-on-year and is in the top quartile of like organisations.

In the last 12 months, four fewer staff experienced a lost time injury than in 2013–14. A concurrent reduction in staff numbers rendered our LTIFR the same as for the 2013–14 period (see Figure 2.1).

The MTIFR is equivalent to 2013–14, while early intervention programs make up a large part of the injury profile. Initiatives encouraging staff to report body-stressing injuries early, before they develop into more disabling injuries, have continued, resulting in a significant drop in the rate of these injuries (17 per cent), particularly those attributed to repetitive movement. Maintaining a steady rate of recordable injuries over a year of significant change demonstrates the effectiveness of the programs.

This graph displays the lost time and medical treatment frequency rates across multiple financial years from 2011 to 2015.

Data shows the number of incidents per million hours worked for each year and is summarised below.
2011-12 8
2012-13 8
2013-14 8
 5 3.6
2014-15 8
 5 3.6

*MTIFR =  Medical Treatment Injury Frequency Rate

**LTIFR = Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate

Figure 2.1: CSIRO lost time and medical Treatment frequency rates (corrected for lag reports).

The number of incidents reported to Comcare also decreased by 15 per cent in 2013–14.

For more information on our health and safety programs see Health and safety.

Awareness of CSIRO’s Values increases year-on-year from the established baseline of 73 per cent in 2010–11 to 95 per cent in 2011–12. A baseline for the use of Values in guiding behaviours and decision-making is established by June 2012 and improves year-on-year over the strategy period.

Values awareness increased from 81 percent in 2012 to 87 percent in 2014 (see Figure 2.2). While this awareness level is below the target of 95 percent, it is important to note that the result was achieved during a period of intense organisational reform. All other attitudinal survey results measured during this period, with the exception of values awareness, decreased.

This graph displays a comparison of the percentages of staff awareness of CSIRO values from 2010 to 2014.

Data are summarised below.
Year % Don't know
% No awareness % Little
% Some/widespread
2010 5
2012 4
2014 3

Figure 2.2: CSIRO staff awareness of values.


CSIRO’s financial, operating and capital management performance meets approved annual budget.

During the year, CSIRO’s operating, capital and cash positions were constantly monitored an achieved the budgeted financial outcomes. CSIRO delivered a deficit operating result of $14.5 million for the year, which was within $2.6 million of the approved loss position of $12 million. CSIRO did not fully spend its planned capital budget due to unforeseen delays in the following major projects – delivery of the future research vessel, Highett to Clayton re-location, and externally funded projects. The Property Strategy is a rolling strategy, which continues to be developed. Cash forecasting accuracy has improved, with planning now extending to a four year horizon.

Direct investment of CSIRO challenges and opportunities through the National Research Flagships increases to 65 per cent by 2014–15.

Direct investment of CSIRO resources towards major national challenges and opportunities through the National Research Flagships, Science and Services program increased to 88.5 per cent in 2014–15, exceeding the target of 65 per cent.

The EcoSciences Precinct building in Brisbane.

  1. CSIRO Strategy 2020
  2. CSIRO’s Science Health and Excellence Report is available at: Science Excellence for Impact

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