National Water Infrastructure Development Fund Feasibility Assessment Plan

​​​​​​​​​Introduction

This plan is designed to ensure fair and effective assessment and to ensure confidentiality and probity throughout the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund Expression of Interest assessment process. It describes the assessment process for the competitive, merit-based Expression of Interest (EOI) process under the feasibility component of the fund, and, in conjunction with the feasibility guidelines, provides panel members with the information on processes for determining eligibility and scoring against assessment criteria. This plan should be considered alongside the feasibility component guidelines available via National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will receive, store, open, register, handle and file EOIs in accordance with departmental policies and procedures.

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1. Assessment process

The assessment process is as follows:

  1. All EOIs submitted by the closing date will be acknowledged via return email, registered, and treated securely with access only provided to departmental officers, panel members and decision-makers.
  2. The department will review all applications to ensure the eligibility criteria have been met.
  3. The department will provide eligible applications to the technical expert panel. The technical expert panel will assess each application in accordance with the criteria at section 4.3 of the fund’s feasibility component guidelines.
  4. The technical expert panel will meet to rank all eligible applications.
  5. Informed by the technical expert panel the department will produce a final report that ranks the eligible applications received on a merit-basis.
  6. The department will provide the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources with recommendations on which EOIs should receive funding and the level of funding to be offered.
  7. The Minister will be the final decision-maker on which EOIs will receive funding.
  8. All applicants who submitted an eligible application will be advised in writing of the Minister’s decision. Where unsuccessful, feedback may be requested. Those who submitted applications that were ineligible for assessment will also be notified at this time.

The following indicative timeframes will apply:

Launch of call for EOI 19 November 2015
EOIs close1 March 2016
Announcement of successful funding recipientsFrom May 2016

2. Roles and Responsibilities of the Technical Expert Panel

The technical expert panel will assess EOIs against the assessment criteria at section 4.3 of the guidelines, and provide advice to the department on the merit of eligible EOIs submitted.

As outlined in the fund’s feasibility component guidelines, selection criteria are individually weighted. The weighting of each criteria is given as a percentage of the overall assessment score.

The names of the technical expert panel members are available here​.

Panel members may seek clarification of information provided by applicants through the department. The department will liaise with state and territory governments when seeking this clarifying information.

3. Content of assessments

3.1 Scoring

As part of the assessment pack, panel members will be provided with templates to assist in the scoring and assessment process.

Scoring will be as per the feasibility component guidelines (see section 4.3), and panel members will be required to provide comment against each criteria. Selection criteria are individually weighted, and the weighting of each criteria is given as a percentage of the overall assessment score.

3.2 Ranking of suitable applications

Informed by the technical expert panel, the department will produce a final report that ranks on a merit basis the eligible applications received. This report will make recommendations on the studies to be funded.

The department’s report to the Minister will include:

  • eligible EOIs ranked in order of relative merit, based on the scores awarded against the assessment criteria
  • recommendations on which proposed feasibility studies to fund
  • any significant issues which arose during the assessment process
  • any other information the department deems relevant.

4. Special instructions

All decisions about the merits or risks of a project must be justified by clear and meaningful written comments. These comments will serve as a record of decision making for probity reasons, and will also be available for the department to provide feedback to applicants. They may also be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

All documents and proceedings of the assessment process are confidential and are to be secured when not in use. The disclosure of information contained in EOIs is prohibited.

All panel members must adhere to the conditions of their terms of reference. This particularly includes requirements to:

  • demonstrate impartiality and equitable treatment of all applicants
  • declare any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest regarding their roles
  • refrain from communicating with applicants and/or proponents about the assessment process before, during or after the process.