On the Agenda

Multiple Standards & Compliance Reporting



The area of multiple quality standards assessments and compliance reporting applies mainly to government-funded human services NGOs (approx. 12,000), placing a significant and unnecessary administrative burden on funded services. This area is in need of substantial reform.

There are up to 60 different sets of quality standards in the community services and health sectors that affect funded services. A key impact is a high proportion of funded hours being redirected away from service delivery and a resultant productivity loss.

For example, a typical local community centre may have 5-6 sets of standards to complete for programs they run (such as youth drop-in services, children's services, disability programs, support programs for migrants, parenting groups, aged services etc). For larger organisations, the problem is magnified where some large NGOs or service provider organisations have 19-20 sets of standards to complete.

This inefficiency and duplication of effort in completing standards means a small NGO loses about two months in staff hours. For a large NGO, this can be more than five months in staff time that could be redirected towards service delivery.

Our Take

There is no comprehensive research data that quantifies the productivity loss to the community services and health sectors caused by multiple standards. However, with the support of the Councils of Social Service and some other key peaks, BNG undertook a national snapshot survey in mid-2011 in an attempt to estimate the size of this problem.

Data from this survey shows that this problem is estimated to be using up to $3.5 million staff hours (nationally) that could be redirected into service delivery, and is estimated to cost government $227 million annually.

Over the past couple of years we have made a number of representations to relevant Commonwealth Government Ministers and funding departments about the size of this problem. Despite the cost to government, and the impact and burden on funded NGOs, to-date there has been no indication from the Commonwealth Government that it will include standards reform as part of its Not-For-Profit Reform Agenda.

Understanding the real impact this issue was having on the sector, BNG decided not to wait for government. Rather, we worked for two years identifying all the quality standards, developing a mapping methodology and then building a patented online solution to multiple standards assessments and reports using a single evidence-based system, tracking progress, collecting evidence online and saving up to 80% of service providers' time.

While the Standards & Performance Pathways (SPP) is currently the only solution to the problem of multiple standards for NGOs, as such it doesn't solve the underlying problem of reducing the number of community services and health standards and creating structural efficiencies in the quality standards and compliance reporting environment (Commonwealth, State and Territory). Importantly, in developing the SPP, BNG did not want to entrench the problem of multiple standards, but rather designed a cost-effective and immediate solution to this problem for the sector and funding departments, hoping that over time the governments will address the underlying problem of multiple standards and compliance reporting.

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