The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has significant holdings of land and buildings. Its portfolio includes more than 665,878 square metres of built environment, 19,000 hectares of land, 333,000 hectares of pastoral leases and 935 buildings. The 58 CSIRO sites include farms, laboratories, glasshouses, manufacturing equipment, supercomputers and telescopes. For financial reporting purposes, the CSIRO’s property portfolio is valued at $1.68 billion.
The objective of the audit was to assess whether the CSIRO designed and is implementing its property investment strategy in a way that is delivering the intended benefits, and how any lessons learned are being reflected in a new strategy that is being developed. To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the ANAO has adopted the following high level criteria:
- Is the CSIRO on track to reduce the organisation’s property footprint by 20 per cent, and eliminate the forecast annual increase in property operating costs, compared with 2012–13 levels?
- Did the CSIRO establish effective governance arrangements to support the implementation of its 2012 Property Strategy?
- Was the development of the 2019–29 Property Strategy (2019 Property Strategy) appropriately informed by analysis and review of the implementation of the 2012 Property Strategy, and the results that have been achieved?
- The CSIRO did not design and implement its 2012 property investment strategy in a way that is delivering the intended benefits. The 2019 Property Strategy was not sufficiently informed by lessons learned and does not include any performance targets.
- The CSIRO’s approach to measuring its property footprint and operating costs is not effective. The evidence indicates that the CSIRO will not achieve the aim of reducing its property footprint by 26 per cent and eliminate the forecast annual increase in operating costs compared with 2012–13 levels.