National Collaboration Framework

National Collaboration Framework (NCF)

Effective cross agency agreement making

The NCF was created to assist Australian Government agencies, State/Territory and Local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives As a general guide, the NCF can be used for any intra or cross-jurisdictional project which would typically use a memorandum of understanding. It provides a tiered approach for agencies to follow when seeking to collaborate and reduces costs, time and risk associated with program or project development and delivery.

The NCF provides processes and tools, including a suite of template agreements (which includes a Collaborative Head Agreement). The former Online Communications Council endorsed the NCF as the preferred agreement-making mechanism for collaborative service delivery within, and across jurisdictions.

The NCF has been successfully implemented by all levels of Government (Local, State and Federal). It would be appreciated if you could take a moment to add to the NCF Register.

NCF Overview

Helping Agencies Share Information EfficientlyThe NCF is a structured approach to collaborative service delivery across traditional boundaries. The Framework provides a tiered approach for Government agencies to follow when seeking to collaborate. The Framework defines a process where parties first agree on collaboration principles. The Framework also provides a suite of re-usable documents and tools (including the Collaborative Head Agreement) that aim to provide enhanced collaborative service delivery arrangements across government departments and agencies.

Tier One In principle commitment to collaborate Statements of Principles to Collaborate:Explicitly recognise and capture the principles and values that guide collaborative service delivery across jurisdictions
Tier Two Business commitment to collaborate Statements of Intent: Agree in advance the business basis to collaborate across multiple initiatives
Tier Three Collaborative Head Agreement Collaborative Head Agreement: Agree in advance those elements of a cross agency agreement that can be reapplied to multiple collaborative initiatives
Tier Four Commitment to collaborate on specific projects Project/Initiative Specific Agreements:Agree those elements that are specific to a particular project/initiative
Tier Five Commitment to collaborative tools, standards and procedures User Guide: Includes checklists specific to collaborative service delivery

NCF Documents

The NCF was created to assist Australian Government agencies, State/Territory and Local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives. As a general guide, the NCF can be used for any intra or cross-jurisdictional project which would typically use a memorandum of understanding. It provides a tiered approach for agencies to follow when seeking to collaborate and reduces costs, time and risk associated with program or project development and delivery.  The NCF provides processes and tools, including a suite of template agreements (which includes a Collaborative Head Agreement). The tiers include:

NCF Tier 1: Principles to Collaborate

Tier 1 involves establishing overarching Principles to collaborate that identify vision, value, scope, cost, benefits and security that guide the integration of services.

NCF Tier 2: Statements of Intent

Tier 2 involves agreement on statements about how organisations plan to do business together.

NCF Tier 3: Collaborative Head Agreement

Tier 3 is a Collaborative Head Agreement (CHA) representing commitment to those elements that apply to multiple projects across a jurisdiction/s.

NCF Tier 4: Project Agreement

Tier 4 involves parties creating project specific agreements.

NCF Tier 5: User Guide

Tier 5 provides a User Guide which includes checklists specific to collaborative service delivery.

NCF Background and Benefits

Background

The NCF is a structured approach to collaborative service delivery across traditional boundaries. The Framework provides a tiered approach for Government agencies to follow when seeking to collaborate. The Framework defines a process where parties first agree on collaboration principles and also provides a suite of re-usable documents and tools (including the Collaborative Head Agreement) that aim to provide enhanced collaborative service delivery arrangements across government departments and agencies.

Benefits

Whole of Government benefits of the NCF include:

  • Improved service delivery, through quicker agreement making and improved risk management
  • More effective leveraging of the Government’s information assets
  • Less duplication of cost and effort across agencies
  • Enhanced flexibility during future machinery of government changes

NCF Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is it appropriate to use the National Collaboration Framework (NCF) for my intra-jurisdictional or cross-jurisdictional arrangement? A: The focus of the NCF is on collaboration within and between government at all levels for projects.  This means that the NCF is likely to be suitable for any intra-jurisdictional or cross-jurisdictional project where the focus is on collaboration.  As a very general guide, you could consider using the NCF for any intra or cross-jurisdictional project for which your department or agency would typically use a memorandum of understanding.

As a default position, the NCF agreements are not legally binding, although, this position can be changed.  Given this, the Collaborative Head Agreement and Project Agreement should not be used for commercial arrangements, where a legally binding relationship is in the Commonwealth's best interest. 
Some high-level examples of projects for which the NCF may be appropriate include:
  1. Data collection and provision between agencies;
  2. Where two or more agencies collaborate to jointly implement or undertake a project (eg, joint surveys, mapping, climate change initiatives);
  3. Where agencies collaborate in the delivery of services to the public (eg, collaboration between a policy agency and service delivery agency).

Q: How does a Collaborative Head Agreement and Project Agreement differ from the type of arrangement that would typically result from an approach to market in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines?

A: The Collaborative Head Agreement and Project Agreement are not intended for use in commercial arrangements where a legally binding relationship is in the Commonwealth's best interest.  Rather, the focus of the NCF, and therefore the Collaborative Head Agreement and Project Agreement, is on collaboration.  They are suitable for use in arrangements to collaborate. 
As a default position, the Collaborative Head Agreement and Project Agreements are not intended to create legally binding contractual arrangements.   However, if the parties are separate legal entities (for example, a Commonwealth Department and a State/Territory Department or a Commonwealth Department and a Commonwealth Authority established under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth)), they may elect to make the Collaborative Head Agreement and/or Project Agreement legally binding. 
The focus of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines is on procurement decisions by agencies and the achievement of value for money rather than on collaborative service arrangements.  The NCF documents are akin to memoranda of understanding and, as previously stated, are not contracts (which would typically result from a procurement process under the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines) and are not intended to be legally binding.

NCF Information Sessions (Video)

From April through June 2011 the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) conducted a series of information sessions around the country to promote awareness of the NCF across the Commonwealth and jurisdictions. Key presenters included:

The videos were recorded at the Canberra Information Session on 15 April 2011. Glenn Archer opens the session, before Matt Cahill discusses the findings of the ANAO’s recent review of cross-agency agreements. Helen Knight gives a detailed explanation of the key principles and tools which make up the NCF. Debra Tippett discusses the legal aspects of the NCF and, to conclude, Paul Tresize talks about his experiences using the NCF in various projects at Geoscience Australia.

NCF Media


Contact for information on this page: solutionsandstandards@finance.gov.au
 
Last updated July 2014