Some excerpts from the draft:
Table of contents
1. Digital Regions Initiative
5.1 Matching funding
6. Expression of Interest process
7. Application Process
7.1 Information to be included in Project proposals
8. Late lodgement
9. Selection criteria
Selection criterion 1: Project outcomes and benefits
Selection criterion 2: Innovative and complementary services
Selection criterion 3: Demand
Selection criterion 4: Technical characteristics
Selection criterion 5: Financial planning and sustainability
Selection criterion 6: Management and organisational structures
10. Assessment process
10.1 Full project proposals
11. Reporting and evaluation
Key performance indicators
1. Digital Regions Initiative
The four year $60 million Digital Regions Initiative comprises $46 million announced as part of the Australian Government’s initial response to the Regional Telecommunications Review and additional funding of $14 million as part of the Government’s Rural and Regional Broadband Network Initiative announced in the May 2009 Budget.
The Digital Regions Initiative will co-fund digital enablement applications to improve services in the key sectors of health, education and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities across Australia in partnership with state, territory and local governments.
For Australians living in regional, rural and remote locations, improving service delivery through the use of innovative digital enablement technology will:
leverage the potential of the Australian Government’s significant investment in the National Broadband Network
further stimulate Australia’s digital economy
create employment opportunities in local communities
develop skills and help to retain professionals in local communities.
The Digital Regions Initiative will support projects which will deliver innovative and sustainable services such as those that will:
boost innovation in healthcare by enabling services such as remote consultation, diagnosis and treatment in areas where there are specialist skills shortages
extend digital education services to enable more regional, rural and remote communities to access improved educational opportunities
increase the use of digital technologies to improve emergency and disaster response both within and across state and territory borders.
The objective of the Digital Regions Initiative is to co-fund innovative digital enablement projects supporting improved health, education, and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities.
The Digital Regions Initiative will co-fund digital applications projects that meet the objective by:
being positioned to leverage the opportunities that will be created by the National Broadband Network
targeting gaps in essential services delivered to regional, rural and remote communities
expanding successful digital enablement initiatives of state, territory or local government, including those funded by the Clever Networks program into other regions, cross jurisdictionally or nationally
using proven and tested concepts and models of improved and innovative service delivery including those developed by Clever Networks projects, in new regions, cross jurisdictionally or nationally
supporting innovative approaches to digital service delivery based on best practice developments from nationally recognised Information and Communications Technology (ICT) research and development activities
aligning with national policy approaches in the delivery of health, education and emergency services with a particular emphasis on benefiting regional, rural and remote communities.
Successful projects under the Digital Regions Initiative will be selected through a competitive process. Applications for funding under the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 may be made by state, territory or local governments.
Where more than one government entity is seeking funding for a project proposal, a lead entity must be nominated as the applicant seeking funding on behalf of all other entities (or project partners) that will contribute to the proposed project.
Entities eligible to apply are:
state and territory government departments and agencies
state and territory owned business enterprises
local government business enterprises
business enterprises or other entities jointly owned by state and territory governments and local governments, e.g. new entities or entities owned by and represent a group of state, territory or local government entities, or
local government and municipal associations.
Note: Project partners may also include not-for-profit and private sector organisations. However, the lead entity submitting a project proposal under the Digital Regions Initiative funding must be one of the entities listed above. If successful, the lead entity will receive Digital Regions Initiative funding and will have the responsibility of implementing the project and meeting the obligations.
The Digital Regions Initiative will make available up to $53.4 million over two funding rounds. The first competitive funding round will call for expressions of interest to be lodged by 31 August 2009. The intent of the expression of interest process is to provide potential applicants with the opportunity to collaborate with other projects, either within their jurisdiction or to strengthen their application through cross-jurisdictional linkages. These will be published on the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy website (www.dbcde.gov.au). Full project proposals are to be lodged by 30 September 2009.
The Digital Regions Initiative seeks to co-fund comprehensive proposals which facilitate service delivery in the key sectors of health, education and emergency services through innovative digital enablement technologies. Collaborative projects between state entities and cross-jurisdictional entities are encouraged to maximise the effective use of those technologies. Proposals must also be positioned to work with, and take advantage of, the fast broadband that will be delivered through the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network. Further information on the National Broadband Network can also be found on the Department’s website (www.dbcde.gov.au).
The range of Australian Government funding that may be provided for a particular project under the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 is $2–7 million (GST exclusive). Applicants proposing projects that are multi-jurisdictional or have a national focus may seek a higher level of funding.
Funding will only be provided to innovative, high-quality projects that are closely aligned to the objective and principles outlined in these guidelines. Applicants are expected to provide a clear strategy to ensure ongoing financial viability of their project. Funding will not be provided to support the continuation of existing projects.
Digital enablement project funding will be provided to enable service delivery. It is not intended that funding be used for establishing fibre linkages but essential equipment that is required for service delivery will be funded.
Projects may include the following types of activities:
digital technology applications
costs associated with the introduction of digital applications
enhancement to capabilities of existing network infrastructure
network engineering and improvements that ensure an efficient and effective network
associated capital equipment (servers, network hubs and connectivity elements).
Applicants should note that funding for successful state and territory government proposals will be provided through a National Partnership Agreement on the Digital Regions Initiative.
Successful local government proposals will be required to enter into a separate funding deed for each project with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The Digital Regions Initiative will run until 30 June 2013. Projects funded under the Initiative must be completed before 31 December 2012 to allow time for final project reporting and a final evaluation of the Initiative.
Note: The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy reserves the right to amend these guidelines for Round 2 funding.
Matching funding is required for all Digital Regions Initiative projects. Where an applicant is seeking funding on behalf of more than one agency or jurisdiction, all parties must contribute resources to the project. Total contributions from sources other than the Australian Government must at least match the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 funding. Contributions from parties from any activity primarily funded by the Australian Government cannot be used as matching funding.
Activities that are primarily funded by the Australian Government are not precluded from being part of a project. However, contributions from any such activity would be disregarded for the purpose of assessing whether the application complies with the matching requirement for contributions from other sources.
Cash contributions will be considered more favourably in the assessment process. Other contributions must be valued at a specified current market rate. Other contributions may include property, equipment, services, personnel time, project management and professional advice. Any specified contributions must be needed to fulfill the project’s goals and objectives and must be applicable within the timeframe of the project.
For the purposes of assessing matching funding, the Australian Government will use a nominal value for staff who devote 100 per cent of their time to the Digital Regions Initiative project (covering salary, on-costs and overheads, per annum) as follows:
program leader/senior manager $170,000
project/team leader/manager $108,300
other (support staff, e.g. technical, administrative) $ 67,500
Large capital items must be valued proportionally to the usage by the Digital Regions Initiative project and based on the running costs and depreciation of the capital item.
Valuations of existing intellectual property will be not considered as matching funding.9. Selection criteria
Applicants for Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 funding should address their project proposals against the selection criteria listed below.
In responding to these selection criteria, applicants should have regard to the Digital Regions Initiative’s objective and principles and address all requirements of each selection criteria.
Applicants must provide a clear description of the key sector(s) (health, education and emergency services) being targeted and how their project outcomes will improve the delivery of services in that key sector(s).
The description of the project’s intended benefits should include the potential social and economic benefits for service end-users resulting from its implementation and any likely impact of the services for other organisations and/or the wider community.
Responses should detail how the project will work with and take advantage of the fast broadband that will be delivered through the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network. As well, they should address how the project will leverage other national, state, territory or local government priorities including digital enablement initiatives.
Applicants should also clearly identify whether the project expands and/or replicates successful Clever Networks, state, territory and local government projects or models of innovative service delivery.
Applicants need to clearly describe how the project will address national, state, territory and/or local government priorities in relation to service delivery issues in regional, rural and remote Australia for the key sector(s) being targeted:
Projects with an eHealth-related component must clearly show alignment with the National eHealth Strategy. Responses should clearly show that projects are capable of being implemented in compliance with National eHealth policies, business requirements, systems architectures and standards (or updates thereof) endorsed by national e-health governance bodies, or issued by the National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) or the Australian Government as required.
Projects targeting the education sector which specifically include schools, should contribute to national educational objectives as set out in the Digital Education Revolution (DER) Strategic Plan and Implementation Roadmap. The DER aims to contribute to sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world. Responses should indicate how the project will contribute to these objectives.
Projects that focus or include the emergency services sector should complement Australian Government emergency service initiatives.
Applicants need to outline how the project’s service delivery model is innovative and how it is distinguishable from other applications and services already commercially available.
Applicants need to clearly establish the level of demand for their project including how demand will be sustainable or increase over time.
This will include the approximate number of service end-users to benefit from the project and level of support for the initiative from communities, users and relevant agencies.
In outlining the level of demand, applicants will need to identify the region(s) in which the project services will be delivered (including key population centres). Applicants should also identify why such services are currently not being provided, and are unlikely to be provided, in the targeted communities in the near future without Digital Regions Initiative funding.
Applicants need to clearly explain key technical characteristics of their proposal, in particular, the digital enablement technology to be used and how it will meet user expectations and requirements. No single technology will be favoured in the assessment of project proposals.
As well as a maintenance strategy, issues which need to be covered by the proposal include: project scalability, adherence to relevant standards, access conditions and protocols, the level of interoperability with other networks, functionality, security, upgrade and redundancy.
Applicants are required to include a financial plan which outlines the financial strategy, viability and sustainability of the project, including the level and nature of funding from sources other than the Australian Government.
Budget and expenditure details are required to be entered into the Budget and Expenditure template as part of the online application process.
This template will capture information pertaining to the proposed project cash flow, expenditure and income and will clearly identify contributions being made by the applicant and/or other project partners.
Applicants will also need to include signed letters of commitment as evidence of contributions being made from parties other than the applicants. Facility to upload these documents will be available as part of the online application process.
Applicants should also identify and confirm their ability to ongoing service delivery after Digital Regions Initiative funding ceases to demonstrate the ongoing sustainability of the project.
Note: Applicants must at least match the funding requested from the Digital Regions Initiative as outlined in 5.1 of these guidelines. ...
Lead applicants must provide details of the organisational structure and management team to undertake their project, particularly the individual expertise and previous achievements of individual members. This should include:
an organisational diagram showing the relationship between the lead project, other members of the consortium and any other relevant organisations
a clear outline of the governance arrangements for the implementation of the project
full corporate ownership details of all members of the project partners
curriculum vitae (maximum of two pages) and the contact details of two referees for each member of the management team.
Responses must include the percentage of time that the manager or management team will devote to the management of the Digital Regions Initiative project. It must also include details of major projects of a similar nature or recent accomplishments of each member or the team collectively.
Details of major projects should include the following:
a description of the project and contribution made by the organisation to the project
an outline of performance under the project contract(s) (including milestones, budget and key performance indicators, as applicable)
the total (combined) dollar value of the project and the manner in which it was funded
the contract start and end dates
at least one referee, which should include the counter-party to the project contract(s), including an explicit authority for the Australian Government to approach these individuals and be provided with full information regarding project performance.
Where the relevant project(s) included funding from any level of government, the following details must also be supplied:
contract title and number
contract (or project) name and number and relevant agency (if not the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy)
contact details for at least one referee, which should include the project manager from the relevant agency, including an explicit authority for the Australian Government to approach these individuals and be provided with full information regarding project performance.
Applicants will also need to tender a robust and achievable project plan addressing implementation issues, deployment timeframes and risk management measures. In particular, applicants should give assurances that the project will be completed on or before 31 December 2012.
Note: Final reports and financial acquittals will be required before 31 March 2013.
If more than one entity is involved in the carriage of the proposed project, the applicant will need to indicate who they are, what role they will play, and where each partnering entity fits within the project’s governance framework, including reporting, decision making and organisational structure/management team.
Note: Facility to upload documents related to this criterion will be available as part of the online application process. ...
Examples of measures by sector:
Number of communities that have benefited from funded projects
Name and classification (regional, rural or remote under the Australian Standard Geographic Classification—ASGC) of communities that have benefited from funded projects
Number of projects completed on time
Description of benefits and impacts on communities.
Examples of measures by sector:
Description of service delivery benefits for the sector
Growth (number and description of new services/enhanced access, by technology type and speed) of services delivered by the Digital Regions Initiative
Description/impact of improved digital communication applications and service delivery outcomes for client groups (e.g. radiologists, teaching professionals, students, emergency response workers)
Description of the qualitative effects on regional, rural and remote communities
Description of how the digital enablement technology has benefited the sector.
Examples of measures by sector:
From: Digital Regions Initiative - Round 1 - Draft Guidelines, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 15 June 2009
The level of investment by project partners as a result of funded projects.
The level of investment by parties external to the consortia.
Description of how the project expands or replicates other government projects or models of service delivery.
The number and type of additional activities/enhanced access to applications that have occurred beyond the scope of funding agreements.
Description of additional benefits achieved by projects through the opportunities created by the National Broadband Network.
The level of additional investment that has occurred beyond the scope of funding agreements and as a result of funded projects.
Description of how the longer term sustainability of the project will be assured. ...