Supporting Station Resilience – tender questions

Q1. As I am a Sydney-based consultant and CBF is based in Melbourne, can I assume that any travel costs are in addition to the $80,000?

Travel costs are not in addition to the expected maximum cost of the consultancy. Relevant CBF Support Team members and the review oversight Committee (who are based across Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and regional Victoria) regularly meet consultants via Zoom Video Conferencing as required. We do not consider non-Melbourne based consultants to be at a disadvantage.

Q2. 500 grant applications is a daunting figure. It would be very difficult to estimate how much time it might take to read all of them sight unseen. Are you able to provide an example of a typical grant application? Is there a summary document? Are they categorised? Would it be acceptable to review a sample of the 500?

You can gain a sense of our Development & Operations grant application form by previewing the form for Round 2, 2019-20. As you will see, we provide suggested word limits for applicant responses to the text-based questions which total 1,500 across the whole application. Applicants also usually attach supporting documents that may be relevant such as strategic plans and financial statements. We can’t provide a publicly available example of a previous application, but we do provide an example application for download. Note that the application form differs slightly from grant round to grant round. The applications will be available to access in full though our online grant management system, SmartyGrants, and if there are responses to particular questions that the consultant would like assistance, our Grants Support Team can run reports to extract these. We can also run summary reports that detail summary project titles and descriptions. For grants that have completed their grant reporting, these will also be available for the consultant to consider. The grant report describes the outcomes of the grant and is generally much shorter than the application, with just a few key questions to gather information about the impact of the grant, learnings, and reporting against evaluation measures established in the grant agreement. A preview of the grant report form is available for download. The Development & Operations grant applications are not further categorised as such due to applicants frequently receiving support for a variety of activities within the same application, but we could provide reports that draw out applications that have a particular focus, such as applications aiming to develop strategic plans. It is up to the consultant to describe their preferred methodology to identify and provide case studies as required. Reviewing a sample of the applications and reports may be acceptable if the sample was adequately representative of the diverse range of stations. Ultimately, we want to ensure that the consultant has a strong understanding of our grant programs and the various capacities of our applicants in order to provide recommendations that are nuanced, contextualised and helpful to us.

Q3. Under “Tender Requirements” at page 6, a page limit of three pages is specified – can we confirm that this limit is in relation to the listed points only? If so, is there an overall limit to the length of the proposal that we should be aware of?

This limit is in relation to the listed points. There is no overall limit to the length of the proposal but tenderers are encouraged to keep their proposal succinct.

Q4. In relation to the review of the most recent two years of grant records, are we able to assume that includes both application information as well as acquittals?

Yes, the review of the grant records includes both applications and acquittals (where available).

Q5. Does application and acquittal data include financial information (e.g. Profit and Loss statements, Balance Sheets), or will the successful tenderer be expected to source this data from other areas (e.g. Annual Reports)?

Applicant financial information is available via the application and grant report in summary form (e.g. data about the applicant’s annual income, expenditure and surplus/deficit), and some applicants are required to provide financial statements as a part of their acquittal.  These will be made available to the successful tenderer on request.

Q6. Will the successful tenderer be given access to data from unsuccessful applications for consideration and analysis as part of the evaluation process?

Data from unsuccessful applications will be available for consideration and analysis, although it doesn’t form a primary focus for the review.

Q7. Is there scope for consideration of alternate processes of sector consultation in place of or alongside the interviews, focus groups and surveys outlined in the RFT? For example, would a discussion paper and open submission process be considered as a potential approach to the sector?

We are open to proposals with alternative methodology to conduct meaningful consultation with stakeholders, but we do have an expectation that key stakeholders will be interviewed as a part of the process. The inclusion of focus groups in the process has been at the suggestion of one of our key stakeholders. In our experience, surveys have provided a more adequate response rate than an open submission process, and are likely to allow for more focused responses than an open submission process. Some of our stakeholders requested the opportunity to provide a written submission as a part of the process but we were concerned that this might open up areas that are not within the terms of this particular review –  we have deliberately framed the requirement under point 5 of the consultant’s role as “Interview subjects should be provided with a list of topic areas that will be covered in advance and the opportunity to submit a brief summary of their responses consolidating their interview remarks.”

Q8. Do you have any desired or target timeframes for the conduct and completion of the analysis, stakeholder engagement and final report?

We are open to negotiation with the successful tenderer. In the long term, we would hope to have the final report available with enough time to feed in any accepted recommendations into the grant process that will open for application in January 2021. In order to meet that aim, the process would need to be concluded by mid-2020.

Q9. Does the reference to the 3 page limit only refer to the dot points under Tender Requirements? If so, do you have any page limits on the remainder of the submission?

See response to Q3.

Q10. Who is the primary audience for the report?

The primary audience is the CBF, principally our Board and Sector Investment Advisory Committee. It’s also possible that the report may be made available to sector representative organisations, the Department of Communications and the Arts and publicly.

Q11. What is the end change in behaviour or decision making that CBF is seeking to make as a result of this project?

The CBF is able to encourage particular practices at funded organisations through its grant programs. We don’t have a particular change in behavior in mind at funded organisations but we are looking for advice about how to best support applicants so that they are healthy and resilient in the long term. The advice received through this review may also impact on decision making processes relating to our grants programs, but we don’t have a pre-conceived idea about what these changes might involve.

Q12.  Regarding CBF’s second requirement – “review the last two years (2017/18 – 2018/19) of CBF grants and current grant documentation…(involves analysis of applications and reports of approximately 500 grants allocated over the period)” – Can you please advise the expectation of the amount of documents to be reviewed, and size of those documents?

See response to Q2.

Q13. Does CBF have a definition of ‘resilience’ that you use? If yes, can you please share it?

No, we don’t have a specific definition of resilience, and we are happy for the successful tenderer to develop one in consultation with us and our stakeholders. When using ‘resilience’ we are deliberately intending to invoke the concept of ‘survival’, particularly in the context of the challenges facing stations such as digital disruption (particularly in the changes that refers to including changing audience expectations and media industry business models) and generational change.

Q14. Similarly, do you have any guidelines around what you mean when you say ‘strengthening station health’? We realise that this links directly to the benchmarks to be established, but again, if you have some measures / definitions you are already working with in this regard, it could be helpful to have them.

When we talk about ‘healthy stations’ we are thinking about stations that are both resilient – relating to governance and financial sustainability best practices – and have strong community engagement to serve the ‘community of interest’ that they are licensed to serve.

Q15. Do you have a definition or can you provide guidance on your expectations around what benchmarks would be set?

We don’t have a fixed idea about what benchmarks might be set in relation to best practice. We are looking for guidance about what would be suitable and appropriate for the organisations we support. It may be appropriate for the recommended benchmarks to be structured or ‘tiered’ in a way that reflects the diversity of the sector, as will be demonstrated through the station ‘archetypes’.

Q16. Could you please fix the link to the Grant Report Form referenced in Q2, as it is not working:

Apologies, the link should now work.

Q17. Will the consultants chosen have the opportunity to have input into the criteria for choosing the granting sample that we will review? If not, what are the criteria that will be used to make the selection?

Yes, tenderers may describe their preferred methodology for selecting such a sample – we would want to ensure that any sampling method was adequately representative of the diverse range of stations in our sector – including consideration of geography, size, level of maturity and community of interest served.

Q18. Is there scope to potentially go back further than 2017/18 when it comes to reviewing final reports for grants? We assume that like most grant programs, groups have 12 months in which to implement the project, so we would like to ensure that there are 500 final reports, as well as applications – if that’s possible.

We would prefer not to expand the scope of the work in this way. Prior to 2017/18 we ran a different set of grant programs, with varying objectives. Inclusion of that historical data will greatly add to the complexity to the task.

Q19. In reviewing the granting from the last two years, is there scope to speak to the grant-recipients / applicants to inform the benchmarking work?

We have no issues with the successful consultant speaking to grant recipients / applicants to gain greater insight into the sector and the task being undertaken.

Q20. We note the granting process was updated in 2017. Has any assessment of the changes to the process and its impact been done? Or is this the fist review of the effectiveness of the new approach?

This is not a review of the effectiveness of the CBF’s ‘Structure & Governance Review’ which led to a complete restructure of our governance structure and reduced the number of grant programs we were running from 36 to 3. We have undertaken to conduct an evaluation of the outcomes of that review in 2021. This review is specifically focused on assisting us to understand how we can most effectively invest in strengthening stations.

Q21. Is there any background information / research available that informed the 2017 transformations, or anything that outlines the rationale for the changes that were made?

There were consultation papers that were published at the time of the CBF Structure & Governance Review. While these can be made available to the successful tenderer on request we don’t think it is particularly relevant as background information as you prepare this submission given our response to Q20.

Q22. Can you provide any commentary on the current organisational landscape / operating environment?

Our commentary on the organisational landscape is covered in the RFT under ‘Contextual information’ on page 3.

Q23. Do you have a theory of change for your grant programs? If so, are they available to the consultants?

We have an organisational theory of change published here.

We do not have a specific theory of change for each of our grant programs. These operate within our Evaluation Framework which reflects our Strategic Plan and includes a Terms of Reference for each Grants Advisory Committee. These documents will be made available to the successful tenderer.

Q24. What has prompted this project? Why are you doing it now?

This review forms a part of our Evaluation Framework. As a part of our Evaluation Framework, the CBF engages independent consultants to conduct assessments of CBF funding programs in order to determine whether they are meeting the sector’s needs effectively and in an efficient manner. The CBF has a schedule of independent reviews that largely align with the strategies in our strategic plan.

Q25. What are the KPIs for the funding from the Federal Government?

The funding from the Australian Government is delivered through a series of funding allocations to address specific policy outcomes. This includes support for community broadcasting broadly as well as specific support for ethnic community broadcasting, Indigenous community broadcasting, RPH (radio reading) broadcasting, transmission support, Digital Radio, training, among other specific purposes. In most cases the requirements for the funding are quite broad in application, but there are some exceptions. The parameters of this funding will be made available to the successful tenderer on request.

Q26. Are there any particular states, cities or areas CBF would want the contractor to focus on?

No, there are no particular states, cities or areas to focus on. We are hoping the consultant’s work and recommendations will assist us to support stations based in all states and territories and in a variety of geographical locations to be resilient, healthy organisations.

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