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Evaluation of the National Climate Variability Program (NCVP)

Bennett, D. Dr; ph: (02) 9665 0251; mobile: 0411 210 251; fax (02) 9665 0251;

McClintock, D. Dr; ph: (02) 9241 5655; fax (02) 9241 5684;

White, D.H. Dr; ph: (02) 6254 5936; fax (02) 6255 2455;

Research organisations: Hassall & Associates Pty Ltd, GPO Box 4625, Sydney, NSW 2001; ASIT Consulting, PO Box 328, Hawker ACT 2614

Sponsors: LWRRDC, Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation.


1. Assess for agriculture and natural resource management, the potential for R & D to contribute to improved management of risks and opportunities related to climate variability. Identification of benefits and likely beneficiaries should be included.

2. Assess the achievements of the NCVP against its stated goals and objectives, including an assessment of:

• the likely contribution of the portfolio of completed and current projects in the LWRRDC Climate Variability Program to improved management of risks and opportunities related to climate variability;

  • the program's value for money; and
  • the program's communication and administrative performance.

1. Assess the suitability of the current goals, objectives and strategies of the NCVP for ensuring that R&D contributes to improved management of risks and opportunities related to climate variability. Suggest alternative goals, objectives and strategies that could be adopted in a possible third phase of the program.

2. Identify gaps, and propose appropriate directions for the program including R & D focus, adoption, communication, management, evaluation and industry funding partnership arrangements, to contribute to more efficient and effective achievement of program goals and objectives both in its current phase and a possible 3rd phase.


Hassall & Associates used three prime sources of data:

  • documentation associated with the NCVP and the individual projects (including publications and extension activities);
  • the views of researchers funded by the NCVP; and
  • contributions from "interest" groups.

A combination of questionnaires and personal/fax/telephone interviews were used to gain the perspectives of researchers and interest groups. Interest groups included R&D Corporations, State and Commonwealth agencies (such as AFFA, BRS), NFF and private firms. Personal interviews were conducted with:

  • researchers based in major centres (Canberra; Brisbane and Toowoomba; Perth; Adelaide; and Melbourne);
  • interest groups in the above locations, as well as Sydney; and
  • Management Committee members based at the above locations.

Open-ended questionnaires were used to obtain perspectives of people not based in the major locations, as well as to structure the interviews. Three questionnaires were developed and sent to:

1. all researchers funded under NCVP (excluding minor communication projects);

2. major interest groups, including the NCVP Management Committee; and the NFF Farm Management Business Committee

The questionnaires and personal interviews revealed themes and issues, that were then verified and discussed by the reviewers and the NCVP Coordinator. The discussions took the form of compiling, exploring and refuting/confirming the points raised in the interviews and questionnaires. The themes also assisted the selection of criteria used in 'evaluation matrices' which contributed to the assessment of the current portfolio of projects.


Most of the projects were assessed as worthy and contributing to the aims of the NCVP. Projects funded nearly always had high scientific merit and had met, or would meet, the objectives set. The projects have generated considerable output, such as conference papers, scientific papers, models and decision support systems, videos and others. Most of these were of a very high quality. Many projects have not contributed yet to improved resource management, which is expected given the short time frame of the Program, although some have the potential to contribute to management in the medium and long-term. Judging by the leverage in funding obtained, the Program exhibits high value for money. The NCVP has been instrumental in establishing a network of researchers exploring climate variability. There has also been an increase of media attention in some of the R&D products from the NCVP. Important problems raised in our review were: the low profile of the Program among interest groups; the lack of customer focus in some projects; and the inability to measure progress in forecasting, due to the lack of adequate, comprehensible measures of performance.

In assessing the Program's goals, objectives and strategies, it was recommended for the possible third phase that two existing sub-programs, 'Climate forecasting' and 'Decision support', be collapsed into 'Managing resources in a variable climate'; that 'Drought Risk Management' be re-named 'The impact of climate variability on our human, agricultural and natural resource base', and that a new program 'Marketing the Program and the Products' be established.

Period: starting date: 1997-03; completion date 1997-05

Status: completed

Keywords: climate forecasts, managing climate variability, research review


Hassall & Associates Pty Ltd (1997). Review of the National Climate Variability R&D Program, LWRRDC Occasional Paper CV02/97


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