ACIAR was established by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982. The Act establishes ACIAR as a statutory authority in the Foreign Affairs portfolio reporting to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Minister reports to the Parliament.
ACIAR’s goals and program objectives are derived from the functions of the Centre, as prescribed in the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982 (ACIAR Act). These functions are to:
- Formulate programs and policies with respect to agricultural research for either or both of the following purposes:
- Identifying agricultural problems of developing countries;
- Finding solutions to agricultural problems of developing countries;
- Commission agricultural research by persons or institutions (whether the research is to be conducted in Australia or overseas) in accordance with such programs and policies;
- Communicate to persons and institutions the results of such agricultural research;
- Establish and fund training schemes related to its research programs;
- Conduct and fund development activities related to its research programs, and
- Fund international agricultural research centres.
In performing its functions with respect to agricultural research, the Centre shall have regard to the need for persons or institutions in developing countries to share in that research. The Centre is not authorised to carry out research on its own behalf.
The Commission for International Agricultural Research
Section 7 of the ACIAR Act establishes the Commission for International Agricultural Research. Under section 9, the functions of the Commission are:
- to provide advice to the Minister in relation to the formulation of programs of the kind referred to in paragraph 5 (1)(a); and
- to provide advice to the Minister in relation to the funding of things referred to in paragraphs 5(1)(d), (e) and (f); and
- to provide advice to the Minister on program and funding priorities; and
- to provide advice to the Minister, on the Minister's request, on any other matter relating to this Act.
The Policy Advisory Council
Section 17 of the Act establishes the Policy Advisory Council, who (under Section 18) provide advice to the Minister regarding:
- agricultural problems of developing countries and
- programs and policies with respect to agricultural research
The Policy Advisory Council includes no fewer than 9, nor more than 11 members appointed by the Minister based on their experience in agricultural research and their knowledge of agricultural problems in developing countries. A substantial number of these members are required to be residents of developing countries.
Chief Executive Officer
The Act provides, under Section 4(a), for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Under the amending legislation, the responsibility for the administrative and financial management of ACIAR is to be changed from the Board of Management to the CEO, reporting directly to the Minister. This is in line with provisions of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. The Minister may, by writing, give directions to the CEO with respect to the performance of the CEO's function under this Act.
Corporate Governance Framework
The amending Act stipulates compliance requirements in relation to financial management and accountability, including credits to the ACIAR account (s34) and purposes of the account (s35). The Chief Executive Officer is also obligated to provide an annual report on the operations of the Centre to the Minister, including financial statements required by section 49 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997and audit report on those statements under section 7 of the FMA Act.
The ACIAR Audit Committee operates as the Centre's primary forum for communication between the Centre's auditors (internal and external) and management. The Committee works to ensure appropriate accountability arrangements are in place, within the overarching objective of assisting the Chief Executive Officer in fulfilling his responsibilities under the ACIAR Act and Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.