Grant Application Assessment

​Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement
 Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program
 
GRANT APPLICATION ASSESSMENT PLAN
Final 

November 2011

1. Background

1.1 The Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program (the program) under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement between the Commonwealth and Tasmania dated 7 August 2011 is designed to assist eligible businesses to exit the Tasmanian public native forest harvest, haulage and silvicultural contracting sector.

1.2 The Tasmanian forestry industry is undergoing restructuring through changes in markets and community values and the decision of Gunns Ltd to exit the Tasmanian public native forest industry. The viability of many harvest, haulage and silvicultural contracting businesses is directly impacted by these changes and the program seeks to assist these contractors by providing voluntary exit grants.

1.3 The objectives of the program are to assist the Tasmanian public native forest industry to adjust to industry downturn and to the reduced scale of native forest harvesting, through voluntary exit assistance to eligible harvest, haulage and silvicultural contracting businesses. It is expected the reduced scale of harvesting will result in the order of 1.5 million fewer tonnes of wood being harvested and hauled and a decrease in public native forest silvicultural activities. The integrated nature of harvest and haulage means that it is desirable to exit an approximately equal amount of harvest and haulage capacity from the industry so as to minimise supply disruption and business failures because of disproportional exiting of sector capacity.

1.4 As part of the Agreement, the Australian Government has allocated $44.02 million for grants for voluntary exits from Tasmanian public native forest operations for haulage, harvest and silvicultural contractors. All funding is provided in the 2011-2012 financial year.

1.5 The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has invited applications from eligible businesses in the Tasmanian public native forest harvest, haulage and silvicultural contracting sector who wish to voluntarily leave the industry.

1.6 The invitation to submit applications was posted on the internet (www.daff.gov.au/forestry/igacep) on 26 October 2011 and advertisements were published in major Tasmanian newspapers on 29 October 2011, 5 November 2011, 12 November 2011 and 19 November 2011, and national newspapers on 29 October 2011.

1.7 Application will close on Thursday 24 November 2011.

2. Purpose

2.1 The Grant Application Assessment Plan (the Plan) sets out the process and methodology as to how applications for funding through the program will be assessed. It provides the Advisory Panel with all necessary information that includes the eligibility criteria, the merit and assessment criteria and other important factors for selecting and ranking successful applicants. The Plan aims to facilitate a fair and effective evaluation and assessment, and to ensure confidentiality and probity throughout the process.

3. Criteria/Conditions for Assessment

A. Eligibility Criteria

The Advisory Panel will assess voluntary exit grant applications against the eligibility criteria below. (refer to Attachment A for copy of the assessment proforma.)

3.1  To be eligible to apply for a voluntary exit grant, a contracting business must have:

(a) not received a grant under the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Exit Assistance Program 2010-2011; and

(b) an ongoing contract(s) or ongoing arrangements (see definitions on pages 4-5 of the program guidelines) to conduct contracted operations (see definition on page 4 of the program guidelines) in Tasmanian public native forests at 24 July 2011 and can provide evidence of that contract or arrangement; and

(c) under an ongoing contract or an ongoing arrangement, been conducting harvest, haulage or silvicultural operations in Tasmanian public native forests (see definitions on pages 4-5 of the program guidelines). This means that more than fifty percent of the native forest operations (including private native forest and excluding plantation forest) of a business must be in public native forest operations in at least one of the following four financial years: 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-2010 or 2010-2011; and

(d) at 24 July 2011, not have been sold (written offer of a sale exchanged but not necessarily settled), or be under receivership or be in bankruptcy administration; and

(e) an Australian Business Number (ABN) held at 24 July 2011; and

(f) provided information requested in the application form including copies of tax returns, verified financial information and information on business arrangements related to the contracted operations (see definitions on page 4 and 5 of the program guidelines).

B. Merit and Assessment Criteria
 
The Advisory Panel will assess voluntary exit grant applications against the merit criteria using the merit criteria scoring method set out in Section 5 of this plan, and on an overall assessment against the program’s objective to remove excess capacity via the goal of exiting complete supply chains.

Merit criteria - harvest and haulage

Each criterion is weighted. The weighted scores for all criteria will be added together and a total score used to determine the applicant’s ranking against the criteria. The criteria for harvest and haulage are weighted as follows: criterion 1 (40%); criterion 2 (40%); and criterion 3 (20%).

Criterion 1. Reduction in tonnage (40%). The difference between the business’s actual delivered harvest and/or haulage tonnage from Tasmanian public native forests, as defined in section 4, for the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and the business’s annual agreed tonnage from Tasmanian public native forests under ongoing contracts or ongoing arrangements. This calculation will be turned into a percentage reduction for scoring purposes. Where a business does not have an annual agreed tonnage in its contract or arrangements it will be based on the difference between actual delivered tonnage for the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and actual delivered tonnage for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

This criterion seeks to take account of the reduction in business operations from industry restructuring (for example the withdrawal of Gunns Ltd from native forest logging and/or activities codified in the Agreement). The highest percentage in reduction would be scored highest.

Criterion 2. Nominated amount (40%). The dollar amount nominated by an applicant to voluntarily exit divided by the business’s annual agreed tonnage from Tasmanian public native forests under ongoing contracts or ongoing arrangements, as defined in section 4 of the program guidelines, for the period1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. Where a business does not have an annual agreed tonnage in its ongoing contract or ongoing arrangements the actual delivered tonnage for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 will be used. This provides a value per tonne. The lowest value will be scored highest.

Criterion 3. Supply chain exit (20%). A supply chain includes the principal, contract holders and subcontractors. For this criterion support means a signed statement included with the application form showing the agreement of the principal and/or contract holder and/or subcontractors in the supply chain for the business to exit. Where a business can demonstrate that it existed prior to 24 July 2011 and was still active at 24 July 2011 and:

(a) this exit is supported by the principal and the contract holder and all the subcontractors in the supply chain, the business will receive the full score under this criterion.

(b) this exit is supported by either the principal and the contract holder or all the subcontractors in the supply chain, the business will receive half the score under this criterion.

(c) this exit is not supported by the principal and the contract holder and is not supported by all the subcontractors in the supply chain, the business will receive no score under this criterion. For the sake of clarity this means that if the business is supported by some but not all subcontractors and not supported by the contract holder it will receive no score for this criterion.

Merit criteria - silviculture

Each criterion is equally weighted. The scores for each criterion will be added together and a total score used to determine the applicant’s ranking against the criteria.

Criterion 1. Reduction in hectares (50%). The difference between actual hectares of contracted operations in Tasmanian public native forests, as defined in section 4, for the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and the business’s actual hectares of contracted operations for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. This calculation will be turned into a percentage reduction for ranking purposes. This criterion seeks to show the reduction in business operations from industry restructuring and associated with actions codified in the Agreement. The highest percentage in reduction would be scored highest. Given the varying scope and nature of silvicultural contracting businesses the panel will verify the percentage reduction through financial statements required (section 7 of the program guidelines).

Criterion 2. Nominated amount (50%). The dollar amount nominated by an applicant to voluntarily exit would be divided by the average of actual hectares of contracted operations in Tasmanian public native forests, as defined in section 4 of the program guidelines, for the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. The lowest value will be ranked highest.

Assessment

The Advisory Panel will make an overall assessment of all applications against the program’s objectives on the basis of the assessment criteria set out below and using the ranking and balancing method set out in Section 6 of this plan. The panel may recommend a funding offer to the applicant that is lower than the applicant’s nominated amount. The panel may also request further information from the applicant.

Harvest and haulage

Each application will be assessed by the panel against the total tonnage of wood expected to be reduced through processes codified in the Agreement. This is expected to be in the order of 1.5 million tonnes but may vary between harvested wood and hauled wood.

It is expected that given overall business costs and structures, the nominated amount submitted by a haulage business would usually be lower than for a similar-sized harvest business; the panel will validate this through financial statements required.

Silviculture

Each application will be assessed by the panel against the total silvicultural activity related to industry restructuring associated with the IGA, taking into account a reduction in silvicultural activities associated with the exit of 1.5 million tonnes of harvested log volume and withdrawal of public native forest areas from harvesting.

This explicitly excludes silvicultural activities that are/were associated with the decline in the Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) sector, the conclusion of Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) funded silvicultural activities and changes to public native forest silvicultural regimes associated with the  reduction in clearfall harvesting, as well as other causes such as a decline in general market conditions or changes in forest management policy.

It is expected that given overall business costs and structures, the nominated amount submitted by a silviculture business would usually be lower than for a similar-sized harvest or haulage business; the panel will validate this against the financial statements provided by the grant applicants.

All applicants

The panel will seek where possible to exit complete contract chains. In determining contract chains, the panel may seek verification of ongoing contracts and arrangements by a contract validation process that may request the assistance of and information from forest principals and/or contracting businesses.

The panel may assess the applicant’s nominated amount in conjunction with an assessment of the business financial statements over the two financial years (2009-2010 and 2010-2011) to determine whether the amount nominated to voluntarily exit corresponds with industry financial information on business activity and earnings. 

4.  Overview of Assessment Process  

Step 1 On receipt, applications will be handled in accordance with the DAFF Grants Management Manual (Chapter 3) and the program administrative process. 

Step 2 The program secretariat will check all applications against the eligibility criteria stipulated in section 3 above, and mark each application provisionally as ‘eligible’ or ‘ineligible’. Where there is insufficient information to support the claims being made in the application, the program secretariat will request further information from the applicant. This information must be provided by the applicant within five working days of the request being received by the applicant via registered post.

Step 3 Copies of all checked applications including those with incomplete information will be provided to the Advisory Panel for an assessment of eligibility.

Step 4 The Advisory Panel will meet and make the final decision on each applicant’s eligibility.

Step 5 The program secretariat will check all eligible applications against the merit criteria stipulated in section 3 above and draft an indicative total score for each eligible applicant.

Step 5A The Advisory Panel will seek independent financial analysis, if required, to validate nominated amounts if the ‘trigger point’ is reached, as specified in section 7 of this Plan.

Step 6 The Advisory Panel will meet to score the eligible applicants against the merit criteria and determine the applicant’s ranking and balancing against all relevant factors specified in this Plan.

Step 7 The Advisory Panel will, if necessary, seek clarification from applicants or seek specialist advice to verify aspects of the assessment as specified in this Plan.

Step 8 The Advisory Panel will prepare an Assessment Report including a merit order of eligible applications, clear comments against the criteria for each applicant and recommendations on which applications should receive funding and the level of funding to be offered.

Step 9  The program secretariat will submit the Assessment Report to the delegate for the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the decision-maker) for consideration.

Step 10  The program secretariat will write advising applicants of the decision of the Assessment Panel, will debrief unsuccessful applicants (using information from the Assessment Report) and will negotiate funding agreements as required by the decision-maker. 

5. Merit Criteria Scoring Method

The following example is for a single contract. Where a contract holder has more than one contract, the agreed tonnage and actual tonnage will be summed individually and the total agreed tonnage and total actual tonnage will be used to calculate criterion 1 and 2.

Where contractors nominate sub-contractors to avoid double counting of tonnage the businesses tonnage, for the calculation of criterion 1 and 2, will be the total tonnage less the tonnage allocated to sub-contractors.

5.1 Harvest and Haulage

For harvest and haulage, there are 3 criteria which are weighted as follows: criterion 1 (40%); criterion 2 (40%); and criterion 3 (20%). To provide a weighted score for each merit criterion, an example is illustrated below:

Applicant – Woodland:  Annual agreed tonnage 50,000 / Actual tonnage 9,000
                                      Nominated amount $500,000
  
Criterion 1 – Reduction in tonnage (40%)

To find out the reduction percentage of Woodland in tonnage, the calculation is:

Difference between Annual agreed tonnage and Actual tonnage =

                                         50,000 – 9,000 x 100% = 82%  

Annual agreed tonnage       50,000  
                                                          
Woodland has 82 percent reduction in tonnage. This reduction will give the company a weighting of 32.80 out of 40 percent. 

82 x 40  = 32.80 percent

100                 

Criterion 2 – Nominated amount (40%)

This criterion is to find out a price value per tonne by dividing the nominated dollar amount with the business’s annual agreed tonnage.

For Woodland, its price per ton is Nominated dollar amount = 500,000 = $10.00
                                                        Annual agreed tonnage  50,000

The highest price from the eligible applicants will be used to give a relative value, with the highest value receive ‘0’ score and all others receive a score relative to the highest price per ton.

Assuming the highest price per ton is $50, Woodland’s price value as compared to the highest price is:

10 x 100% = 20% 
50 

Given that the lowest value per tonne will be ranked highest in this criterion, the price value percentage for Woodland’s tonnage needs to be reversed within the weighting of 40% as shown below:

40 – (20 x  40) = 32.00percent                          
                 100 

Criterion 3 – Supply chain exit (20%)

The Advisory Panel will, in looking at the harvest and haulage tonnage to be exited, consider whether a business is part of a supply chain that will fully exit.

a) Support received from the principal and the contract holder and all subcontractors 20%
b) Support received from the principal and the contract holder or all the subcontractors 10%
c) Not supported by the principal, the contract holder and all of the subcontractors 0% 

Woodland received support from the principal, the contract holder and the subcontractor and therefore received a score of 20% for this criterion. 

THE TOTAL SCORE FOR WOODLAND: 32.8% + 32% + 20% = 84.80% out of 100%


Scoring for criterion 3

To score an exiting contract holder or subcontractor that only works in one supply chain, a contract holder with one contract who does not have any subcontractors and received support from the principal will score 20 points. A contract holder with more than one contract who has support on only one contract would not be able to receive twenty points. The score for criterion 3 for contract holders or subcontractors with more than one contract or arrangement can be derived by adding the criterion 3 score for each contract or arrangement and dividing the total criterion 3 score by the number of contracts or arrangements.

Note:

Scoring for complex businesses with multiple harvest and haulage contracts.

Combined harvest and haulage businesses will finish with a single score out of 100 (expressed as a percentage) for the business.  Derivation of the score will depend upon its business arrangements. Where there is a single contract a single score shall be derived. Where there are multiple contracts and supply lines the actual circumstances will determine the process to be followed:

  1. The guiding principle shall be that each business shall receive one final score only;
  2. Where multiple contracts exists the tonnage and nominated values shall be aggregated then scored;
  3. Where multiple contracts or principals exist each supply chain shall receive a supply chain score and the average of all supply chain scores for that business shall be used as the businesses criterion 3 score.
  4.  Where a contractor contracts to multiple principals then the scores for criterion 3 shall be calculated for each principal and the average taken to arrive at that businesses criterion 3 score.

Business A, Three contracts, two principals, two supply chains, contract and actual tonnage provided, nominated value for business only provided (maximum  nominated value of $24/t used for calculating criterion 2).

Type

Contract (t)

Actual (t)

$ Value

Criterion 1 score

Criterion 2 score

Criterion 3 score

C1+C2+C3 score

Harvest

25000

7500

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest & Haulage

25000

17500

 

 

 

 

 

1st Principal

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

Haulage

10000

6500

 

 

 

20

 

2nd Principal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60000

31500

832500

19

16.87

15**

50.87

** Criterion 3 score is the average of the two supply chain criterion 3 scores.

Business B, Three contracts, one principal, multiple supply chains, with contract and actual tonnage and nominated value for business only provided (maximum nominated value of $24/t used for calculating criterion 2).

Type

Contract

Actual (t)

$ Value

Criterion 1 score

Criterion 2 score

Criterion 3 score

C1+C2+C3 score

Harvest

25000

7500

 

 

 

20

 

Harvest & Haulage

25000

17500

 

 

 

10

 

Haulage

10000

6500

 

 

 

20

 

 

60000

31500

832500

19

16.87

16.67

52.54**

** Criterion 1 and 2 scores are calculated from the supplied tonnage and nominated value figures. Criterion 3, the supply chain score is calculated for each supply chain and then the average of the supply chain scores is used to determine the criterion 3 score.

Business C, Three contracts, one principal, single supply chain, with contract and actual tonnage provided, and a single nominated value (maximum  nominated value of $24/t used for calculating criterion 2).

Type

Contract

Actual (t)

$ Value

Criterion 1 score

Criterion 2 score

Criterion 3 score

C1+C2+C3 score

Harvest

25000

7500

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest & Haulage

25000

17500

 

 

 

 

 

Haulage

10000

6500

 

 

 

 

 

 

60000

31500

832500

19

16.87

10

45.87***

*** The final score is calculated by summing the tonnage and nominated values and then applying the formulae for each criteria.

Business D, one contract, one principal, single supply chain, multiple sub-contractors, with contract and actual tonnage, and nominated value provided for each sub-contractor. Business E and F are subcontractors to Business D (maximum nominated value of $24/t used for calculating criterion 2).

Business

Type

Contract

Actual (t)

$ Value

Business D
(Contract holder)

Harvest & Haulage

95000

60000

1500000

Business E
(sub-contractor to Business D)

Harvest

25000

17500

525000

Business F
(sub-contractor to Business D)

Haulage

10000

6500

45000

Business D
Revised tonnage

Harvest & Haulage

60000****

36000****

1500000*****

**** Contract and actual tonnage values for the Business are adjusted down by subtracting the sub-contractor tonnages from the businesses tonnages.
*****The nominated value is not adjusted as this is the amount that the business has determined it requires to exit the industry and may be related to factors other than contract tonnage.

Businesses D, E & F single contract, single principal, single supply chain, with contract and actual tonnage provided, and a single nominated value (maximum nominated value of $24/t used for calculating criterion 2).


Type

Contract

Actual (t)

$ Value

Criterion 1 score

Criterion 2 score

Criterion 3 score

C1+C2+C3 score

Harvest & Haulage

85000

60000

1500000

11.76

10.59

20

42.35

Harvest

25000

17500

525000

12

5

20

37

Haulage

10000

6500

45000

14

32.5

20

66.5******

****** The final scores are calculated separately for each business after the tonnage adjustment is carried out for the contracting business.

5.2 Silviculture

For silviculture, there are 2 criteria which are weighted as follows: criterion 1 (50%) and criterion 2 (50%). To provide a weighted score for each merit criterion, an example is illustrated below:

Applicant – TAS Timber:    Actual hectares 1/7/2010 – 30/6/2011  12,000
                                           Actual hectares 1/9/2009 – 30/6/2010  20,000
                                           Nominated amount $200,000

Criterion 1 – Reduction in hectares (50%)

To find out the reduction percentage of TAS Timber in hectares, the calculation is:

Difference between Actual hectares in 2009-2010 and 2010-11 = 20,000 – 12,000 x 100% = 40%  

Actual hectares (2009-2010)                  20,000
                                                                                                       
TAS Timber has 40 percent reduction in hectares. This reduction will give the company a weighting of 20 out of 50 percent. 

40 x  50 = 20.00percent
        100                 

Criterion 2 – Nominated amount (50%)

This criterion is to find out a price value per hectare by dividing the nominated dollar amount with the business’s actual hectares for 2009-2010.

For TAS Timber, its price per hectares is

Nominated amount = 200,000 = $10
Actual hectares 09-10   20,000

The highest price from the eligible applicants will be used to give a relative value, with the highest value receive ‘0’ score and all others receive a score relative to the highest price per hectare.

Assuming the highest price per hectare is $45, TAS Timber’s price value as compared to the highest price is:

10 x 100% = 22.20%
                    45 

Given that the lowest value per hectare will be ranked highest in this criterion, the price value percentage for TAS Timber’s hectares needs to be reversed within the weighting of 50% as shown below:

50 – (22.2 x 50) = 38.90 percent          
                   100 

THE TOTAL SCORE FOR TAS TIMBER: 20% + 38.9% = 58.90% out of 100%

Note: All figures are to be rounded up to two decimal places

6. Ranking and Balancing Method

6.1 Ranking silviculture businesses

The Panel will use its knowledge of the forest industry to verify each applicant’s information and to determine when to seek advice of expert advisers.

The guidelines set out that Criterion 1 (merit criteria) seeks to show the reduction in silvicultural business operations associated with actions codified in the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) taking into account a reduction in silvicultural activities associated with the exit of 1.5 million tonnes of harvested log volume.

This explicitly excludes silvicultural activities that are/were associated with the decline in the Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) sector, the impact of Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) funded silvicultural activities and changes to public native forest silvicultural regimes associated with the reduction in clearfall harvesting, as well as other causes such as a decline in general market conditions or changes in forest management policy, as they are not related to industry restructuring associated with the IGA and are therefore not a focus of this program.

Based on information provided to the department, it is expected that applications from silvicultural contractors may comprise up to 5 percent of the total number of applications. 

Silviculturalists will be assessed against the criteria in section 5.2 and shall receive a score out of 100 expressed as a percentage.  The scores for harvesting and haulage contractors (scored out of 100 and expressed as a percentage) and silviculture contractors shall be combined into a separate list ranking all scores from zero to 100 to assist the Advisory Panel in making their determination.

6.2 Balancing harvest and haulage

All eligible applicants are assessed against the merit criteria stipulated in section 3 above and will be ranked according to their total score, with the highest score to be ranked number 1 and so on.  

Based on the ranking of harvest and haulage businesses, the Advisory Panel will seek to balance tonnage to exit 1.5 million tonnes using the following method.

Method: From the list for harvest and haulage businesses place businesses in one of two columns in ranking order with their overall ranking in brackets and set out as relevant the agreed yearly tonnage or annual actual tonnage for the business for the 2010-2011 financial year. The two columns are: harvest (incorporating combined harvest and haulage businesses) and haulage businesses. Starting with the business with overall highest score match the tonnage from this business with the tonnage required to match harvest and haulage tonnage.

Example: Highest score is for a business with 80,000 tonnes of harvest – then match the highest ranked haulage business or businesses which meet this tonnage and so on until the 1.5 million tonnes (harvest and haulage) is met (give or take 10%) or the harvest tonnage is exhausted.

Balancing harvest and haulage 

Harvest

Haulage

(1) 80,000

(3) 20,000

 

(5) 40,000

 

(7) 25,000 (5,000) surplus*

(2) 150,000

(5,000) + (8) 60,000 + (9) 160,000
(75,000 surplus) **

(4) 80,000 (h&h) does not need to match with surplus

 

(6) 100,000

(75,000) + (11) (50,000) (25,000) surplus

(10) 60,000

(25,000) + (13) 25,000 + (14) 10,000

(12) 150,000 harvest and haulage – no matching required

 

(15) 40,000

(18) 25,000 + (22) 30,000 (15,000) surplus

Total harvest tonnage: 660,000

Total haulage tonnage: 675,000***

* In the example the volumes of three haulage contracts were required to retire the volume of the highest ranked harvest contract. There was a surplus of 5,000 tonnes haulage carried forward from this cell into the next calculation.
** in this example there was 5,000 tonnes brought forward into this cell from the previous calculation.
*** included haulage from combined harvest and haulage contracts.

7. Other Factors for Assessment

7.1 Independent advice

The Panel may seek independent financial assessment of claims which appear to be incompatible with the information on earnings and output (tonnage or hectares) of the business that was provided in the application.

7.2 Applications exceed total funding available.

If the amount sought by eligible applicants exceeds the $55 million (‘trigger point’) the Panel may seek independent financial analysis of all eligible applicants to validate that the nominated amounts sought by businesses are equitable with earnings figures and capital assets of companies. The Panel may seek this analysis ahead of a Panel meeting to assess and rank applicants.

Independent financial advice would investigate financial statements for years provided (2009-2010 and 2010-2011) and determine actual earnings from Tasmanian public native forest operations on annual earnings before interest and taxation basis (EBIT) and the value of capital assets associated with the business’s public native forest operations. The independent adviser may suggest an offer value for the business exit grant based on this analysis.

The Advisory Panel may reduce the amount offered to successful grant applicants on the advice of the independent financial adviser.

7.4 Other factors

The Advisory Panel will notify the decision maker for the program if it sees evidence of collusion and recommend to the decision maker whether in such circumstances grant payments should be made.

The Panel may seek validation of contracts and arrangements to confirm the nature of the contract or arrangements and the actual operations performed by the business. 

8. Roles and Responsibilities

8.1 The program secretariat will receive, open, register and check eligibility of each application received, and provide copies to the Advisory Panel and file applications in an accountable manner.\

The program secretariat will support the Advisory Panel during its assessment including making meeting arrangements, providing scoring proformas, drafting initial scoring and ranking sheets, drafting the Assessment Report and contacting applicants (as directed by the Chair of the Advisory Panel).

8.2 The Advisory Panel will assess applications against the program’s objectives, eligibility criteria and merit criteria.

8.3 The Advisory Panel may draw upon material and information other than an applicant’s written submission in the assessment process. For example, advice from a financial expert may be considered by the Advisory Panel at their request.
 
8.4 The Advisory Panel will examine each eligible applicant’s claims against the merit criteria and score applications in accordance with the scoring regime included in this Plan.

The Chair of the Advisory Panel is responsible for all communication with applicants during the assessment.

8.5 The Advisory Panel will take into consideration all relevant factors specified in this Plan to rank the applications in merit-order that will fundamentally achieve the program’s objectives and provide justifiable reasons for the resulting merit-order, including sufficient comments against the criteria for every application to enable debriefing of unsuccessful applicants.

8.6 The Advisory Panel will prepare an Assessment Report that includes a final score rating summary and recommendations on which applicants should receive funding and the level of funding to be offered.

8.7 The Assessment Report is to state any inconsistencies between the Guidelines and the successful/preferred applicant(s) offer and identify areas where the successful/preferred applicant(s) proposal could be improved by negotiation and included in the funding deed.
 
8.8 The Advisory Panel will work in a consensus manner. If a unanimous decision cannot be reached, this will be included in the Assessment Report

8.9 Upon the sign off of the Assessment Report by the Advisory Panel, the program secretariat will submit the Report to the decision-maker for final decision.

The program secretariat will write to all applicants advising them of the decision, will debrief unsuccessful applicants (based on the Assessment Report) and will negotiate funding deeds (consistent with the decision-maker’s approval).

9. Membership of Advisory Panel

9.1 The Advisory Panel will comprise:

a) Chairperson (Australian Government official) John Talbot
b) Member (Tasmanian Government official) Donald Riddell 
c) Commonwealth officer (Australian Government official)  Chris Murphy

10. Assessment Timeframe

The following indicative timeframe will apply:

a) Secretariat assessment of eligibility and requesting further
supportive information, if required by 08 December 2011
       
b) Copies of applications distributed to Advisory Panel by 12 December 2011

c) Advisory Panel provide signed Assessment Report to DAFF by 19 December 2011

d) Assessment Report submitted by DAFF to decision-maker  by 19 December 2011

e) Offers made to successful grantees, including identifying any
negotiations that may be required to finalise a Funding Deed by 23 January 2012

f) Funding Deed negotiated and signed from January 2012

Note:  Where the Advisory Panel requests independent financial analysis be conducted the timeframes for delivery, for items (c) through to (g), as set out above, may be extended by up to two month to accommodate the time necessary to conduct the financial assessment.

11. Venue

11.1 Advisory Panel meetings will be conducted in Canberra.

12. Special Instructions

12.1 All documents and proceedings of the Advisory Panel are COMMERCIAL-IN-CONFIDENCE and are to be secured when not in use by members of the Advisory Panel. The disclosure of information contained in the applications may prejudice the commercial interests of the applicant and the bargaining position of the Commonwealth during subsequent contract negotiations.

12.2 Individual Panel members must refrain from communicating with applicants about the assessment process.

12.3 Members of the Advisory Panel are personally invited by the Department to be members of the Advisory Panel and every effort should be made not to withdraw during the assessment process.

12.4 All members of the Advisory Panel must demonstrate impartiality and equitable treatment of all applicants. Members of the Advisory Panel will confirm that they have no conflict of interest regarding their roles on the Advisory Panel by signing the Plan on page 14.
Any independent advisers, including financial advisors, will also be required to sign their agreement to this plan, a confidentiality agreement and a declaration of conflicts of interest.

13. Assessment Report

13.1 The final process of the assessment is the production of an Assessment Report that:

a)  summarises the assessment process;
b)  makes a recommendation regarding the preferred applicant(s); and
c)  supports the recommendation of the Advisory Panel with reasons and assessment approach consistent with this Plan. 

14. Endorsement by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

This Assessment Plan is endorsed by an approving officer within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Approving Officer

Tom Aldred ……….........................................................     ____/____/____
First Assistant Secretary
Climate Change Division

15. Agreement by Advisory Panel Members

I agree to the terms and conditions of the Assessment Plan.

Conflict of Interest

I am not subject to any perceived or actual conflict of interest and will inform the Advisory Panel if a perceived or actual conflict arises during the assessment process.

(Advisory Panel members to sign and date below to indicate agreement to this Grant Assessment Plan)


NAME   SIGNATURE       DATE_______________

 

John Talbot ………….......................................................... ____/____/_____
 Chairperson
(Australian Government representative) 


Donald Riddell
 ………….. ........................................................ ____/____/_____
(Tasmanian Government representative)


Chris Murphy
 ……………........................................................ ____/____/_____
(Commonwealth Officer)