New Standards Australia business model

Thursday, 20 August, 2009

Recent cost-saving strategies have been implemented at Standards Australia to place the organisation on a more sustainable footing. The financial strategy since the sale and float of SAI Global in 2003 has been to maintain an investment portfolio to generate returns sufficient to sustain its operations.

In 2004, the total portfolio value was $161 million, peaking at nearly $240 million in 2007. The financial model takes into account short-term fluctuations in investment markets; however, the global financial crisis has reduced the value of the portfolio to $170 million as at 30 June 2009.

Accordingly, Standards Australia adjusted its expectations of medium-term investment returns, lowered its operating costs, introduced operational changes and accelerated the implementation of its new Business Model to ensure it continues to operate on a sustainable basis.

Focus on Standards development

Standards Australia is committed to ensuring resources are directed towards achieving our overall objective of supporting the development of Australian Standards, with more than 80% of its workforce dedicated to achieving exactly this.

The majority of Standards Australia’s operating expenditure for the current year is devoted to standards projects, associated support and infrastructure.

Standards Australia is actively working on some 350 Standards development projects. Areas of concern to the electrical industry include safely working with optical fibre and amendments to the Wiring Rules and the Building Code of Australia.

Currently, Standards Australia’s Relationship Managers are engaging with government, the professions, industry, business and other stakeholders on new projects relating to, among other things, electric vehicles, health informatics, security; energy efficiency, consumer products and business management.

Transitional support extended to FY2010/11

As Standards Australia moves towards implementing its new Business Model, it will work with stakeholders to provide transitional support on a case-by-case basis. Over and above 350 designated key projects, co-funding, administrative and project management support will be considered for stakeholders adjusting to these new pathways and resource requirements.

This arrangement may assist stakeholders who are currently assembling resources to progress existing projects in meeting development costs. This support will ensure Standards Australia’s financial support beyond 30 June 2010.

New grant scheme

Standards Australia will introduce a grant scheme to reduce the contribution required by stakeholders for the development of high-quality Standards development projects. The scheme will be available to SMEs, consumers and other special interest groups with projects that demonstrate broad-based and significant benefit to Australia.

Funding for the scheme will start at $250,000 and will be available by January 2010. This grant will increase to $500,000 in 2011 and to $1 million in 2012 subject to affordability.

The real cost incurred by Standards Australia to develop a new Committee-Driven Standard varies from project to project. Assuming an average real cost of $20,000, then a grant scheme off-setting 30% of these costs will assist around 40 new Committee-Driven projects during the first six months of its establishment.

The grant scheme will complement the valuable contributions of committee members and will be the continuing mechanism through which Standards Australia funds the development of standards for the common good.

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