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Review of the Bureau of Mineral Resources



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MINISTER FOR RESOURCES SENATOR PETER C

DPI/170B 16 June 1989

REVIEW OF THE BUREAU OF MINERAL RESOURCES

The Minister for Resources, Senator Peter Cook, today announced the Government's response to a major review of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR) by the former head of the Department of Defence, Mr Alan Woods, AC.

BMR is a research bureau of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. It was formed in 1946. It currently has around 550 staff and an annual budget of around $43 million.

In announcing the changes proposed for BMR, Senator Cook paid tribute to BMR's standing as a world class government geoscience agency which has played an outstanding role in the development of Australia's mineral and petroleum industries.

"The Government's broad acceptance of the Review recommendations represents a further positive step in the task of -microeconomic reform," said Senator Cook.

"A key recommendation is the establishment of a National Geoscience Mapping Accord between the Commonwealth and the States/NT. The Accord will usher in a new era of cooperation between BMR and the State and Northern Territory Geological Surveys," he said.

"It will go a long way to meet the pressing need for new generation geoscience maps and databases required as a foundation for successful minerals and petroleum exploration. It will also lead to much-needed improved information being available to governments for

integrating development and conservation interests.

"The Bureau has been given a new charter and a larger, more widely representative Council. Its planning process will be overhauled and operating efficiences sought. Its research programs will be directed towards producing maps and databases to a much greater extent than in the past. Relations with the States/NT and CSIRO will be strengthened and the recommendations on staff recruitment

and promotion pursued.

"I have set a clear timetable for change. The reorganisation of BMR is to be completed, as far as possible, by 1 July 1989 including resolution of the question of contracting out in-house geophysical data acquisition and drilling facilities. A report on all other aspects of the implementation, including strategies for cost recovery and cost sharing, is to be provided to me by 1 December

1989.

"Mr Woods is to be congratulated on the Review report. Its recommendations have been widely supported. Their implementation will lead to a leaner, more flexible and responsive BMR which will better meet the geoscientific information needs of industry and governments," Senator Cook said.

Contact; Gary Quinlan (062) 77 7480

FEATURES OF BMR’S CURRENT PROGRAM

,As the principal national geoscientific organisation, BMR has a major role in the development and coordination of the national geoscientific knowledge base in the context of global knowledge. BMR currently carries out programs in five key result areas of

• Petroleum • Minerals • Groundwater • Geophysical Observatories . Database Coordination

BMR’s Petroleum related activities are undertaken both offshore and onshore, the largest of these being the marine Continental Margins Program using the dedicated research vessel Rig Seismic.

— Recent marine operations over the Gippsland and North Perth Basin are part of an integrated program aimed at covering both partly known and frontier areas to provide a basis for and encourage effective petroleum exploration in Australian waters.

— Onshore, BMR undertakes systematic basin studies on both producing and potential Basins with a current focus on the Canning Basin of WA

— BMR is also well advanced in its Palaeogeographic Map Project to produce seventy time-slice maps which will contribute to petroleum exploration and assessment by providing a picture of major changes in the distribution of land and sea in the region over the last 600 million years.

In the Minerals area, BMR, as part of its regional approach to studies of major mineral provinces, is this year completing a major study of the Mt Isa Mineral province

— this project has forged new standards in 1:100 000 geological maps which will provide a sound basis for BMR’s contribution to national priorities under the proposed Mapping Accord.

— Another important tool for mineral exploration is provided by BMR’s Aeromagnetic Program which already has been a factor in several important mineral discoveries, including Olympic Dam. Coverage of the Canning Basin and surrounding provinces undertaken in 1988/89 further advanced toward Australia - wide coverage of this key geoscientific database.

Priority in Groundwater research has been given to understanding the causes of salinisation in agricultural lands of the Murray Darling Basin.

— BMR’s work, in co-operation with the States under the aegis of the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council has already established an understanding which provides a basis for the development of practices to ameliorate the problem.

A key element of BMR’s Geophysical Observatories is the Australian Seismological Centre, ASC, which in 1988/89 has detected and analysed a number of large earthquakes further adding to our understanding of earthquake risk in Australia

— the ASC is also the Australian facility used to detect nuclear explosions in the hemisphere centred on Australia. Further upgrading of this capability has been undertaken this year and the centre has detected and reported some 32 explosions in the program year as part of Australia’s foreign policy objectives.

Results of BMR’s programs provide a significant contribution to the National geoscience knowledge base which is essential to the governments policy of balanced development and conservation, including the development of successful exploration programs, the assessment of the nation’s petroleum, mineral and groundwater resources, and the formulation of land-use management policies.

— BMR is co-operating with the Bureau of Rural Resources in developing the National Resource Information Centre, NRIC which will utilise the latest computing and remote sensing technologies to provide rapid access to all available databases on Australia’s natural resources.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

REVIEW OF THE BUREAU OF MINERAL RESOURCES,

GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS

- A RESEARCH BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT OF

PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY

RESPONSE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO A REPORT TO THE

MINISTER FOR RESOURCES

BY MR A J WOODS, AO

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR RESOURCES, SENATOR THE HON PETER COOK

REVIEW OF THE BUREAU OF MINERAL RESOURCES, GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS

BACKGROUND

The Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR) is an operating group of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. It is a key component in Australia’s scientific base and the provider of information vital to the future operations of the petroleum and minerals sector of the economy. More broadly, it is an important provider of the basic information required by government in balancing development and conservation interests. The Bureau is respected both nationally and internationally, and has played a vital role in Australia’s development. The continued health of the Australian mineral and petroleum industries depends on vigorous and sustained exploration programs, based on a comprehensive up-to-date knowledge base, which, in many aspects, only BMR can provide. Its geoscientific advice is essential for the Commonwealth’s responsibilities and Government’s decision making in relation to mineral and petroleum exploration, extraction and export, and protection of the environment.

To ensure the relevance of BMR’s focus, and the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations, a comprehensive review of the role and functions of BMR was commissioned by the Minister for Resources on 8 August 1988. The review was conducted by Mr A J Woods AO, formerly Secretary of the Department of Defence. The terms of reference for the review are set out in Attachment A.

Mr Woods submitted his report in December 1988. The report, which has been widely circulated for comment, recommended:

(a) the redefinition of BMR’s role and functions, and the development of a National Geoscience Mapping Accord;

(b) closer liaison and co-operation with the States and Territories, CSIRO, industry and universities;

(c) closer alignment of BMR’s programs and priorities with the needs of industry, and the simultaneous examination of options for the extension of cost recovery;

(d) the disposal of drilling rigs, and the contracting out of onshore seismic and airborne data acquisition and processing;

(e) divisional restructuring of BMR, and the transfer of certain statistical functions within the portfolio; and

(f) the use of external management consultants or a Departmental task force to implement the review recommendations.

The recommendations have generally received widespread acceptance, particularly for a shift in focus for BMR to give priority to production of geoscientific maps and data sets, supported by appropriate published reports, for use by the mineral and petroleum exploration industries, and as a source of information for

government in balancing development and conservation interests.

Details of the recommendations and the Government’s response are at Attachment B.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IN SUMMARY

The Government has agreed that

(a) the recommendations of the BMR Review be broadly accepted, regarding the role and functions of BMR; closer co-operation with States and Territories, CSIRO, industry and universities; and closer alignment of the relevant parts of the BMR program and priorities with the needs of industry;

(b) a Departmental task force be set up to implement the recommended organisational changes, and to focus on achieving savings from disposal of BMR assets and contracting out of services, where cost-effective;

(c) the task force also explore other avenues for cost recovery and cost sharing;

(d) in carrying out these functions, the task force consult with and involve, as appropriate, the Department of Finance, Department of Industrial Relations, Public Service Commission, other relevant Departments, staff associations with coverage in BMR, and the BMR Advisory Council;

(e) the reorganisation of BMR is to be completed as far as possible by 1 July 1989, including resolving the cost-effectiveness of disposing of BMR assets and buying in contract services in respect of:

(i) on-shore seismic data acquisition

(ii) drilling operations

(iii) airborne data acquisition and processing

and a report provided on all avenues of increasing cost recovery and cost sharing by 1 December 1989.

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ATTACHMENT A

REVIEW OF THE BUREAU OF MINERAL RESOURCES, GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS

TERMS OF REFERENCE

1 To undertake a comprehensive review of the role and functions of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR) in the context of Australia’s national needs in the area of geoscientific and related activities.

2 To evaluate BMR’s capacity to meet these national needs, such evaluation to include:

— its relations with other government organisations and with industry, and the extent to which BMR activities reflect industry needs and priorities;

— the effectiveness of its planning and programming, monitoring, evaluation and review processes;

— the effectiveness of its organisation, structure and staffing; and

— the effectiveness of its operating and management procedures.

3 To recommend where necessary changes and measures to improve the performance of BMR in respect of its role and functions and in the areas identified in paragraph (2) above

— including measures as appropriate to associate BMR more closely with industry needs and priorities.

4 To evaluate the potential for cost recovery in BMR and recommend measures to implement such cost recovery.

ATTACHMENT B

DETAILS OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE

RECOMMENDATION 1

BM R’s future role and function be defined as follows:

Role

• To improve the effectiveness o f exploration for, and assessment of, Australia’s petroleum, mineral and groundwater resources, and to contribute to land use planning and the mitigation o f natural hazards, through the development o f publicly available databases providing a comprehensive, integrated geoscientific understanding o f the Australian continent, the Australian offshore area and the Australian Antarctic Territory.

• To facilitate the formulation and implementation o f policies necessary for the effective management o f petroleum and mineral resources by the timely provision o f scientific and technical assessments, advice and information to Commonwealth Government, industry and the public.

• To contribute towards Australia’s international policy objectives through provision o f special national geoscientific capabilities and through participation in appropriate international multilateral and bilateral geoscientific programs.

Functions

BM R’s functions as the principal Commonwealth Government geoscience agency, analogous to other national geological surveys, should be to:

1 carry out integrated regional geophysical, geological, geochemical, hydrogeological and tectonic surveys and research into, and syntheses of, the onshore basins, mineral provinces and the regolith o f continental Australia, as a basis for exploration by the mineral and petroleum industries. Geoscientific maps and data sets, supported where appropriate by published reports, should he regarded as the most important products o f the geoscientific research and related studies undertaken hv BMR:

2 similarly, carry out major integrated offshore studies o f the Australian continental margins and other strategic offshore areas;

3 assess the petroleum and mineral resource potential o f Australia and its territories, its relevance to the total inventory o f earth resources and to Australia’s competitiveness in each commodity area and carry out scientific and technical research into Australia’s geoscience potential to meet future world mineral and energy commodity requirements;

4 help establish and co-ordinate the national geoscientific database required for the consideration o f land use issues;

5 be the national repository o f data concerning the petroleum, mineral and groundwater resources o f Australia and its territories and, as the national geoscience survey organisation, be a major focus for both national and international geoscience from an Australian perspective;

6 maintain geophysical observatories in Australia and Antarctica to monitor seismic, geomagnetic and other natural geophysical phenomena and to respond to specific Commonwealth Government requirements such as nuclear monitoring

7 provide a national scientific capability in selected specialist areas, as required to support broad-ranging multidisciplinary research programs and collaboration with research personnel from other institutions (e.g., Commonwealth and State/NT agencies, resource companies and universities);

8 in all the above, co-operate and, where appropriate, collaborate with State/NT Government agencies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and other geoscience - organisations.

Response

The role and functions of BMR are to be as described in Attachment C. This statement is based on the recommendation of the Review and takes account of further advice provided by the BMR Advisory Council.

RECOMMENDA TION 2

A s a matter o f priority BMR and the State/NT Geological Surveys, through the Chief Government Geologists’ Conference, and in consultation with industry and the academic community, develop a national geoscience mapping strategy (National Geoscience Mapping Accord) setting out

• an assessment o f current and future national needs;

• priorities;

• goals, objectives and long range plans;

• mechanisms and procedures for monitoring and reviewing the status o f maps, map coverage and mapping programs;

• the need for, and means o f introducing new technology (ensuring maintenance o f standards and compatibility o f systems); and

• the resources currently available for this program, and those required to achieve desirable levels o f activity.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation. Geoscience maps and databases are the basis of successful petroleum and minerals exploration. They are also basic and essential information sources for governments in balancing development and conservation interests.

Discussions with the States are already well advanced to produce detailed recommendations on the implementation of the proposed Mapping Accord.

Comments

The National Geoscience Mapping Accord will provide a framework for collaboration between BMR and the State/NT Geological Surveys.

BMR has, with the advice of the BMR Advisory Council, undertaken a comprehensive review of its program in order to increase its mapping activities. It has entered into discussions on the Accord, through the Chief Government Geologists’ Conference, with a strong commitment to pursuing this recommendation to the maximum extent possible given the budgetary constraints it faces. A paper on BMR contributions to the Accord has been prepared for discussion in each of the States/NT. Seminars have been organised in most States to seek industry and community views on mapping priorities with the first meeting held in Perth on 19 May 1989. Other meetings have been held in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville.

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BMR will contribute to the National Geoscience Mapping Accord (NGMA) by

• participating directly in systematic mapping programs in collaboration with the State/NT Geological Surveys

• providing specialist expertise/facilities in direct support of priority mapping programs

• directing its geophysical mapping activities (both airborne and seismic) more closely to the geological mapping priorities.

It is hoped to have the Accord fully in place so that it can be reflected in the Bureau’s work program for 1990/91.

RECOMMENDA TION 3

(a) Where appropriate, consideration be given to funding State/NT Government Departments to provide additional staff specifically to facilitate the extraction o f geoscientific resource information from State/NT records and its provision to the national geoscience database.

(b) Staff exchanges with State/NT Geological Surveys, and the outposting o f some BMR staff to Survey Headquarters and regional offices during joint projects be encouraged.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation in principle, subject to budgetary constraints.

RECOMMENDA TION 4

Liaison arrangements, in addition to those already in place between BMR and CSIRO, be established on a Divisional basis to co-ordinate research programs and to identify areas o f collaboration and co-operation.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation.

Comments

Discussions promoting this have already been held between BMR and CSIRO. A Minerals Research and Development Liaison Committee has recently been formed between CSIRO and the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. The Bureau is represented on this committee. Informal collaborations and exchanges at research Division level are being strengthened. A recent example is the joint appointment with CSIRO of a scientist to work in remote sensing studies. The effectiveness of these arrangements will be kept under review.

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RECOMMENDATION 5

BM R’s Antarctic program be reviewed by the Advisory Council in the light o f the revised charter; extension o f BM R’s geoscience activities to meet specific D ASETT objectives be funded by D A SE TT on a contract basis.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation.

Comments

BMR’s work program in Antarctica is directed principally towards onshore geoscience surveys and the operation of geophysical observatories at Mawson and Macquarie Island. As well as fulfilling the scientific role outlined in the charter of the Bureau, BMR’s present and future activities in the Australian Antarctic Territory have considerable significance for Australia’s policy position within the Territory. Contractual arrangements for possible extension of the current onshore program to meet policy interest needs will be explored jointly by BMR and the Department of Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories, which has primary responsibility for Australian matters relative to the Antarctic, and provides infrastructure support for BMR research in the Territory.

BMR through its research vessel ’Rig Seismic’ has the capability to conduct marine geoscience research in Antarctica including the collection of sedimentary cores to assist in climate change studies. However, the issue of an Antarctic marine geoscience program is a separate matter which will be considered further by the Government at a later date.

RECOMMENDA TION 6

BMR continue to co-operate closely with universities through joint and collaborative research where this contributes to BM R’s program, and wherever possible BMR utilise specialist expertise and facilities available in universities.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation.

RECOMMENDA Ή ON 7

• BMR program and priorities should better reflect the needs o f industry by:

• placing greater emphasis on geoscience mapping and related research, in collaboration with the State/NT Geological Surveys and other geoscience organisations, and developing and maintaining a range o f national geoscience databases;

• using the national geoscience knowledge base to provide regional syntheses, analyses and interpretations;

• applying the latest technology and concepts to data acquisition, management and interpretation;

• using commercial contractors wherever possible; and

• developing better communications with industry, especially by way o f staff exchanges.

Response

The Government accepts the recommendation, noting that the Bureau’s programs serve both resource industry and government information needs and that an appropriate balance needs to be maintained. Processes for formulating the BMR strategic plan and annual work program (see recommendation 8) will need to address this question of balance and will need to more actively and systematically involve industry and the States/NT. Recommendation 10 (a) concerning the formation of a specialist advisory group for

the Continental Margins Program, and which the Government accepts in principle, will meet this need for industry involvement in a major part of the BMR Program.

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The Government agrees in principle to greater use of commercial contractors, subject to cost-effectiveness considerations in specific areas (see recommendations 11,12 and 13).

RECOMMENDA TION 8

(a) The Chairman o f the Advisory Council and Director BMR liaise with the Minister for Resources in the formulation o f the annual BMR program; and the Advisory Council formally endorse the program prior to its submission to the Minister for approval.

(b) Industry representation on the Advisory Council be increased from 2 to 4, State/NT representation from lto 2 , and the term o f appointment o f members be increased from the present 2 year period. Consideration be given to establishing a dedicated secretariat to service the Council.

(c) Review and evaluation procedures be developed further by BMR in consultation with the Advisory Council, to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency o f the program; projects be formally reviewed against specified performance indicators on a regular basis.

Response

(a) The Government accepts this recommendation

(b) The Government accepts this recommendation in principle and has decided to strengthen the representation of industry, applied science, environmental and States/NT interests on the Advisory Council through the following changes to its membership which involve an increase in size of the Council from nine to twelve members

— nominations will be sought from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering for one of the two positions on the Advisory Council currently filled by members nominated by the Australian Academy of Science

— nominations will be sought from the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists for appointment of a professional exploration geophysicist to an additional position on the Council.

To ensure the wider interests of balancing conservation and development are represented

— an eminent environmental geoscientist will be appointed to an additional position on the Council.

To strengthen State/NT representation

— an additional State/NT representative will be appointed on the nomination of the Chief Government Geologists’ Conference bringing total State/NT representation to two.

The Government has decided to keep the question of Advisory Council membership under review to ensure that an appropriate balance of interests is represented and that the Council remains effective.

The Government has also decided to increase the term of appointment of members, generally from two years to three. In light of current arrangements which the Advisory Council considers satisfactory the secretariat for the Council will continue to be provided by BMR.

(c) The Government accepts this recommendation. The terms of reference of the Council have been modified as follows to clarify its role in providing advice on the effectiveness and efficiency of BMR’s program

The Council is to advise the Minister and the Director of BMR on:

• the objectives and priorities of BMR’s research programs

• the initiation, performance, and termination of aspects of the program

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• industrial and economic policies which impinge on BMR activities

• community interests in relation to BMR activities.

Comments

The enlarged Council will consist of a Chairman, a nominee of the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, the Director BMR, an elected staff representative, an eminent environmental geoscientist and appointments from nominations by:

e the Chief Government Geologists’ Conference (2)

e the Academy of Science (1)

• the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (1)

• the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association (1)

• the Australian Mining Industry Council (1)

• the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (1)

The current Chairman is Mr Bruce Webb, Director of the Australian Mineral Foundation.

RECOMMENDA Ή Ο Ν 9

The Advisory Council critically review the BMR program in terms o f its relevance and balance, with a view to substantially reducing the number o f individual projects by terminating or redirecting projects which are inconsistent with the new charter or priorities.

Response

The Government accepts this recommendation. The Advisory Council has carried out this review. The 1989/90 work program, which is shortly to be finalised, incorporates major changes advised by the Council.

These changes include

• rationalisation of the program to decrease the total number of projects from 87 to 61

• redeployment of resources as far as practicable to minerals related mapping activities

RECOMMENDA T IO N 10

(a) A specialist advisory group be formed to assist in identifying survey targets, establishing priorities and advising on appropriate technology for the Continental Margins Program; such a group might appropriately be a sub-committee o f the BMR Advisory Council.

(b) BM R’s involvement in the Ocean Drilling Progam be reviewed in the light o f other priorities prior to any extension o f the current 3 year commitment.

Response

(a) The Government accepts the need for a specialist advisory group for the Continental Margins Program as part of BMR’s overall planning procedures.

(b) The Government accepts this recommendation

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RECOMMENDATIONS 11, H A N D 13

11 (a) BMR dispose o f its in-house onshore seismic data acquisition capacity as soon as practicable and thereafter carry out seismic surveys by contract.

11 (b) Increased collaboration and financial support be sought fo r the deep seismic profiling program, through ACORP (Australian Continental Reflection Profiling Committee) and other bodies as appropriate.

12 BMR dispose o f its drill rigs and thereafter utilise contract drilling services.

13 BMR dispose o f its aircraft after completion o f the current airborne reconnaissance geophysical program in 1991 with any future airborne data acquisition and processing being done by commercial contractors.

Response

11 (a), 12,13 The Government accepts that projects should employ contractors or in-house capacity according to the cost-effectiveness of the alternatives, on a case by case basis. The question of contracting versus in-house provision of each service will be examined after evaluation by external consultants. The consulting firm, Price Waterhouse, has been engaged to carry out

this evaluation and will report by 1 July 1989.

11 (b) The Government accepts this recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION 14

(a) The Geophysics Division be abolished and non-observatory geophysical junctions be integrated into two land-based multidisciplinary research divisions oriented towards program objectives.

(b) The Resource Assessment Division be abolished with geoscientific resource assessment transferred to the appropriate research divisions in BMR and rationalised, and industry-related statistical/analytical/economic activities (approximately 30 positions) transferred to appropriate other areas o f the Department.

(c) A ll corporate management functions, geoscience computing and database functions, cartographic and engineering services, and geophysical observatory functions, be located in a new Corporate Services and Information Division headed by a professional manager.

(d) An Observatories Branch be created within the Corporate Services and Information Division and the Advisory Council further review the observatory functions in the context o f overall program priorities.

Response

The Government accepts the need to restructure BMR generally along the lines recommended. This is to be completed as far as possible by 1 July 1989. The final form of the structure is to be consistent with the principles underlying the recent major restructuring of the Department at large.

(a) Non-observatory functions carried out by the Geophysics Division wil be integrated with program areas.

(b) The Government accepts the restructuring of the BMR’s Resource Assessment group and the transfer of minerals statistical functions and some commodity specialist functions to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE). Eleven staff positions have now been transfered to ABARE to allow it to take over these functions. Requirements for technical support in the Department’s Petroleum Division will be met by outposting scientific and engineering personnel from BMR.

(c) , (d)The Government agrees in principle with these recommendations as they relate to corporate functions. The appropriate location for geophysical observatory functions will be considered in light of the final form of the structure adopted.

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* Comments

The Department has recently undergone an Executive Management Review, leading to a major restructuring. This has involved the clustering of functions in operating groups, to which most previously centralised support services have been devolved. The operating groups are Minerals and Fisheries, Agriculture and Forestry, The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service and the three departmental Bureaux, BMR, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Bureau of Rural Resources. The Secretary of the Department is advised in the management of the Department by an Executive Management Committee, comprising the Associate Secretary, Executive Directors of the operating groups and an Executive Director Corporate Development. He is supported by a relatively small corporate headquarters group.

BMR’s capabilities in geophysics are not being reduced by the restructuring, which is designed to achieve more effective program delivery.

BMR will retain strong petroleum and mineral resource assessment capabilities. The identification of any net savings to be made from the restructuring of the resource assessment group and transfer of functions will be a high priority task for the implementation team.

RECOMMENDATION 15

(a) A ll scientific, engineering, and technical staff in BMR be included in a system o f merit promotion along the lines o f the scheme operating in CSIRO. Staff assessment criteria should encourage the production o f maps and data sets.

(b) Recmitment guidelines be developed by BMR that maximise staffing flexibility while maintaining broadly based scientific effort. Where possible, specialist work be carried out on contract or by staff recmited on a fixed-term employment basis. A s a matter o f immediate priority, BMR should emphasise recmitment o f recent graduates and staff with relevant industry experience, and consideration should be given to

re-introduction o f a Cadet scheme.

(c) A policy on early retirement/redundancy/retraining be put in place and early retirement/redundancy ■ packages be offered where staff cannot be effectively redeployed to meet the requirements o f B M R’s program priorities.

Response

The Government agrees in principle with the recommendation. The implementation team which is to report by 1 December 1989, will be required to undertake consultations with the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of

Finance, and the Public Service Commission on the service-wide implications of the recommendations, and with staff associations.

RECOMMENDA T IO N 16

External management consultants be appointed or a Departmental taskforce be formed to develop management and operational procedures appropriate to BM R’s new charter, advise on implementation o f proposed organisational changes and match resources with program to identify optimum staffing levels.

Response

The Government agrees to the establishment of a task force within the Department of Primary Industries and Energy to advise BMR and Department management on implementation of the recommmendations. The implementation process will involve consultation with the Advisory Council, relevant staff associations, and other departments and the Public Service Commission as appropriate.

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Comment

The task force has been established and reports to the BMR Planning Sub-committee of the Department’s Executive Management Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of the Department (see comments under Recommendation 14). External consultants will be engaged as appropriate for specific tasks. Consultants, Price Waterhouse, have been engaged in respect of recommendations 11,12 and 13.

RECOMMENDA T IO N 17

Options for increasing cost recovery be pursued through:

• joint projects with the States/NT and industry.

• actively seeking external funding for research programs.

• incorporation o f an appropriate cost recovery margin in the sale o f printed, copied and published products.

• accelerated release o f raw data.

• review o f allpublications and data releases to identify target markets and the full extent o f costs involved; if necessary obtain professional marketing advice.

• development o f appropriate cost sharing arrangements with the States/NT for operation o f the seismological observatory network and review o f pricing policy forprovision o f geophysical observatory data to end users.

• contracting out o f excess ‘Rig Seismic’ capacity as appropriate.

• introduction o f a Technical Briefing Fee for consultancy services to industry and where appropriate ■ contracting out o f specialist BMR services on a full cost recovery basis.

• designation o f an officer to promote and co-ordinate cost recovery and marketing efforts; to be given priority in the new Corporate Services and Information Division.

Response

The Government agrees that the implementation team should look in detail at opportunities and processes to increase the level of cost recovery and external funding. A report is to be provided by 1 December 1989. Increased cost recovery is to be achieved where possible within the 1989/90 financial year.

RECOMMENDATION 18

Revenue retention arrangements from the provision ofproducts and services and sale o f surplus assets be developed so as to encourage improved levels o f cost recovery.

Response 18

The Government accepts the recommendation on retention of revenue. This was announced in the context of the Government’s recent statement on science.

Comments

The joint statement of 8 May 1989 by the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy and the Minister for Resources on ‘Research, Innovation and Competitiveness’, issued as part of the Government’s May science statement, announced the Government’s intention to allow the three research bureaux of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy to retain revenues as an incentive to increase the level of cost recovery and external funding.

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The statement acknowledges that an increased commercial orientation of the bureaux should not be at the expense of research which produces products which have the nature of public goods

"namely, research required to support policy development, research that is o f relevance to national interest consideration, and so on.

"The Government appreciates that the bureaux will have an incentive to increase external funding from industry only if they are permitted to retain these funds in addition to their existing budgetary appropriations. This is consistent with the Government’s recent announcement that it will allow CSIRO, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and the Australian Institute o f Marine Science to retain all external earnings.

"The Government will adopt a similar policy for the three DPIE bureaux by allowing them to retain 100per cent o f externally generated revenues and by maintaining existing appropriations to the Department. This will allow the bureaux to meet external commitments by expanding their commercial activities without prejudicing the research they undertake for policy, resource management and basic research purposes. In order to take full advantage o f this opportunity, the bureaux may need more administrative flexibility than they have at present to fulfil applied research contract obligations. This would, for example, include obtaining more staff on short-term or temporary contracts".

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♦ ATTACHMENT C

BMR ROLE AND FUNCTIONS

Based on the recommendations of the Woods Review the following statement of role and functions has been adopted.

Role ,

• Develop a publicly available, comprehensive and integrated geoscientific knowledge base fo r the Australian continent, the Australian offshore area and the Australian Antarctic Territory, especially through the provision and coordination o f appropriate databases, as a basis fo r encouraging and improving the effectiveness o f exploration for, and assessment of, Australia’s endowment o f petroleum,

mineral, and groundwater resources and for contributing to land-use planning and to the resolution o f environmental issues, including the mitigation o f natural hazards.

• Provide independent and timely scientific and technical assessments, advice and information to Government, industry and the public to facilitate the formulation and implementation o f policies necessary for the effective management o f the land and its petroleum, mineral and groundwater resources.

• Provide special national geoscientific capabilities, such as the geophysical observatory functions o f seismic monitoring for both earthquake risk and underground nuclear explosions.

• Participate in appropriate multilateral and bilateral geoscientific programs to contribute to Australia’s international policy objectives.

In carrying out its role, BMR will:

• With the advice o f the BMR Advisory Council, and through wide consultation, especially with the petroleum and mineral exploration industries, develop and implement priorities fo r national geoscientific strategic research and resource assessment.

• Interact with policy areas ofDPIE and with other Government Departments when geoscientific advice and services are required by Government policy.

• Cooperate effectively and, where appropriate, collaborate with State/NT Government agencies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and other geoscience organisations.

Functions

BM R’s functions as the principal Commonwealth Government geoscience agency, will be to:

1. carry out integrated regional geophysical, geological, geochemical, hydrogeological and tectonic surveys and research into, and syntheses of, the onshore basins, mineral provinces and the regolith o f continental Australia. Geoscientific maps and data sets, supported where appropriate by published reports, should be regarded as the most important products o f the geoscientific research and related studies undertaken by BMR:

2. similarly, carry out major integrated offshore studies o f the continental margins o f Australia and its offshore territories and other strategic offshore areas;

3. assess the quantity and quality o f the identified mineral and petroleum resources o f Australia and its territories in relation to those o f other countries and to the total inventory o f earth resources, and carry out scientific and technical research into, and make continuing assessments of, Australia’s intrinsic potential to meet future mineral and energy commodity requirements;

«, t 4. help establish and coordinate the national geoscientific knowledge base required for the consideration o f resource use, land use and environmental issues;

5. coordinate Government geoscience data activities and develop suitable standards; be a repository o f data concerning the petroleum, mineral and groundwater resources o f Australia and its territories and facilitate the provision o f these data for exploration and research;

6. maintain geophysical observatories in Australia and Antarctica to monitor seismic, geomagnetic and other natural geophysical phenomena and to respond to specific Commonwealth Government requirements such as nuclear monitoring

7. provide national scientific capability in selected specialist areas, as required to support broad-ranging multidisciplinary research programs and collaboration with research personnel from other institutions (eg. Commonwealth and State/NT agencies, resource companies and universities).

8. as the national geoscience survey organisation, be a major focus for both national and international geoscience from an Australian perspective;

9. assist in the development o f overseas programs in the geosciences, and participate in appropriate bilateral and multilateral programs.

10. publish and provide information relating to its role and functions, and especially to meet the needs o f the Australian petroleum and mineral exploration industries and those concerned with land-use planning.

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