Assesses the degree to which the investment by the Australian aid program into research has been appropriate, effective and efficient, and provides recommendations for improving DFAT’s future management of research investment.
Explores how research investment can be best managed to ensure DFAT supports aid innovation and high-quality aid program and policy decision-making. The evaluation focuses on whether the management of DFAT’s considerable development research investment has been appropriate, effective and efficient. Employing a multi-dimensional evaluation method, it draws on the experiences of DFAT staff and stakeholders, as well as the available expenditure data, in arriving at a set of well-supported findings and recommendations.
The report makes several important points about the need for DFAT to have a clear sense about why and how it funds research. The department’s managers and officers need especially to be conscious of the effectiveness and efficiency risks implicit in their highly devolved form of research investment management. These risks will be reduced if robust knowledge management systems and a strong culture of research use are embedded in the department. The experience of other aid donors indicates that achieving this will be a significant challenge.
The evaluation also makes a finding with clear implications for the way the department engages with research institutions in partner countries. It shows that, while the department’s research funding to Australian institutions increased significantly from 2005 to 2013, the level of direct funding to partner country institutions did not increase to the same extent and was, indeed, flat over the last five years of that period. There are clear benefits to be had in building research capacity in those institutions, either directly or through partnerships with Australian and international researchers. Given Australia’s ongoing investment in the Pacific, this may be a region in which future research funding can be focused.