Health of Australia’s biosecurity system

Project ID: 170714
Project Name: Health of Australia’s biosecurity system (extension of Project 1607B)
CEBRA Project Leader: Karen Schneider
DAWR Sponsor: Matthew Koval, First Assistant Secretary
DAWR Division: Biosecurity Policy and Implementation Division
DAWR Project Leader: Paul Pheloung, Technical Director, Research and Intelligence, Biosecurity Implementation Branch, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation Division
Collaborators:

  • Edith Arndt, CEBRA
  • Alistair Davidson, A/g Assistant Secretary, Strategic Policy & Biosecurity, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)
  • Jay Gomboso, Director, Biosecurity Economics, ABARES
  • Tony Arthur, Senior Quantitative Scientist, Fisheries, Forestry & Quantitative Sciences, ABARES
  • Zoltan Lukacs, Senior Policy Officer, Biosecurity Economics, ABARES
  • Sam Wells, Director, Research and Intelligence, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Haidee Hudson, Assistant Director, Research and Intelligence, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Thomas Krijnen, Director, Biosecurity Strategy and System Reform, Biosecurity Policy and Implementation, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Steve Hathaway, Director, Biosecurity Science and Risk Assessment, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand

This project is an extension of project 1607B: Health of Australia’s biosecurity system, for a third year to 30 June 2019.

The objectives of the Department include maintaining and enhancing Australia’s favourable animal and plant health status. This objective is underpinned by evidence-based policy, delivered through Australia’s national biosecurity system.

The national biosecurity system is a combination of interventions that help Australia anticipate, prevent, screen, prepare for, detect, respond to, and recover from, or adapt to, biosecurity risks – this includes activity pre-border, at the border and within Australian territory, and work to support Australia’s access to export markets.

The performance, or ‘health’ of the biosecurity system is a measure of the system’s capacity to deliver its key functions and activities, namely:

  • biosecurity intelligence that provides timely knowledge of the pest and disease threats approaching Australia (anticipate)
  • pre- and at- border controls to prevent, or reduce to an acceptable level, the likelihood that pests and diseases are present on the goods and conveyances that approach and enter Australia (prevent)
  • border screening to detect potential incursions of pests and diseases (screen)
  • policy, planning and tools that facilitate responses to biosecurity incursions (prepare)
  • post-border surveillance to detect incursions of pests and diseases (detect)
  • responses to pest and disease incursions that minimise their impacts (respond)
  • recovery after successful eradication programs or adaptation to established pests and diseases through activities that minimise costs and support continued market access (recover or adapt).

The national biosecurity system should be capable of delivering these activities in an effective, efficient, robust, resilient and sustainable manner.

The Department is seeking a framework and methodology to measure and report on the health, or performance, of the Australian biosecurity system. This should build on existing capability and develop new methods that can be used repeatedly to articulate the health of the biosecurity system at the national level, against agreed performance criteria.

The need for this project arises because the department does not currently have a system for articulating the performance of the biosecurity system on a national level that captures all elements of the system and all participants in the system; that articulates relevant attributes of system performance and establishes qualitative and quantitative measures of performance; that can be repeated at agreed intervals; and that can be used to support decision making, particularly related to the quantity and allocation of investments in the biosecurity system.

The Department currently relies on qualitative pathway specific risk analyses and reviews to assess and, if necessary, address potential unacceptable exposure to risk. Some work has been done collaboratively by government jurisdictions under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) to evaluate the effectiveness of resource allocations for surveillance and emergency response activities. However, the department does not currently have a means of estimating the health of the national biosecurity system as a whole against appropriate performance criteria. This is a serious gap that limits the capacity of the department to evaluate the adequacy of investment across the biosecurity system.

The primary objective of the project is to develop a framework and methodology to measure and report on the health, or performance, of the Australian biosecurity system that can be repeated at regular intervals. This should capture all elements of the biosecurity system and all participants in the system; articulate relevant attributes of system performance; and establish qualitative and quantitative measures of performance and associated performance indicators.

Key outputs from the project include:

(i)  A comprehensive review of the performance evaluation literature of relevance to the biosecurity system, including performance evaluation of complex systems in the public sector in Australia and internationally (delivered phase 1);

(ii)  A detailed description of the activities undertaken in the biosecurity system using a program logic approach, their intended outputs and their direct, system level and external outcomes (delivered phase 1);

(iii)  A list and definition of the attributes of biosecurity system health against which the performance of the biosecurity system’s outputs and outcomes could be assessed (delivered phase 1);

(iv)  A list of the qualitative and quantitative measures of performance and associated performance indicators for outputs and outcomes for each element of the biosecurity system (in progress phase 2 and 3);

(v)  Case studies on each element of the biosecurity system that identify how the framework will be implemented for this element (in progress phase 2 and 3);

(vi)  An assessment of data sources for each performance indicator and identification of gaps in data and information needed as input to metrics or measures, in particular data that are currently not collected but would be of benefit for determining the health of the biosecurity system or individual elements of the system (in progress phase 2 and 3).

Final Report 170714

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