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Functional and efficiency review of the Australian Department of Agriculture

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A contestability program triggered a review of policy alignment and operational efficiency

Nous Group supported an independent review leader to conduct a functional and efficiency review (FER) of the Australian Department of Agriculture at the behest of the Department of Finance. This FER reviewed operational efficiency and alignment between the department’s activities and the government’s policy agenda.

Our broad lines of enquiry addressed the most fundamental questions

Our review assessed policy-related programmes managed by the department, including programme design effectiveness and delivery efficiency. We strategically benchmarked the Department’s corporate support functions and programmes through three lines of enquiry:

  1. The role of government: should the government be responsible for the function/programme?
  2. Contestability analysis: can the performance of the function/programme be improved through the use of competition?
  3. Internal efficiency analysis: can the Department perform the function/programme more efficiently?

We supported our strategic questioning with detailed line-by-line analysis; resulting in a holistic, well-contextualised, long-term view. We set a tone from the outset that the review, although independent, would be conducted in partnership with the Department; ensuring our recommendations were well-informed, implementable and a coherent addition to the government’s reform agenda.

Our findings helped shape the future

Our work resulted in clear findings with respect to the appropriateness of the Department’s functions and how it can operate more efficiently. The findings informed further actions in relation to the government’s reform agenda.

What other organisations can learn

Combining strategic questioning with line-by-line analysis produces stronger, more compelling results.

Independence can be maintained while working in partnership, resulting in findings that are supported and therefore more likely to be implemented.