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Assignment title Review of the National Laser Centre (NLC) Rental Pool Programme (hereinafter referred to as “RPP”) of the CSIR.


Assignment Principal and Review Reference Group The Assignment Principal is the Executive Director: Knowledge Management and Strategy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). The Review Reference Group comprises the Group Executive (Research & Development) of the CSIR, the NRF Executive Director: Institutional Capacity Development as well as the NRF Executive Director: Knowledge Management and Strategy. The role of the Review Reference Group is to: ? ? ? ? ? approve the terms of reference; approve the review programme and budget; appoint the review panel; receive the final report from the review panel and the response of the management of the RPP; provide comments and recommendations on the review process and the extent to which the terms of reference for the review have been addressed.

The Assignment P rincipal will forward the following to the Department of Science and Technology, the CSIR Executive and the NRF Executive: ? ? ? the final report by the review panel the response of the management of the RPP the comments and recommendations by the Review Reference Group on the review process.


Service provider The Evaluation Centre of the NRF will act as the service provider. responsibilities of the service provider are to: ? develop a programme for the review, including a budget; ? ? ? The

manage, coordinate and administer the entire review process, including logistics; provide support to the review panel; source the necessary information from the RPP.


The purpose of the review The purpose of the review will be to: ? firstly and most importantly, provide a retrospective view on the performance of the RPP in terms of: 1

ToR – Review of NLC Rental Pool Programme – finalised 15 September 2005


the objectives stated in the NLC Rental Pool Programme policy document which states that: ? the sole purpose of the fund is to stimulate and grow the laser research programmes within the South African educational institutions through increased exposure. Addionally, ? the RPP grant can also fund set-up costs for undergraduate training to enable the disadvantaged community to participate fully in research; ? a guideline amount of 40% of the total G rant Fund will be allocated to equity and redress. Partnerships between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will also qualify.

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the outcome and impact of the activities of the RPP on the HEIs and the community; the best ways and means to stimulate optimal future use of the infrastructure and equipment by users; a funding model that ensures the RPP’s sustainability and an increasing funding base; the possibility of expanding the RPP to also accommodate interaction with the newly established African Laser Centre;

secondly, provide a prospective view on: o o o


based on the above, make recommendations regarding the strategic direction of the Programme.


The scope of the review The focus of the review will be a retrospective view, i.e. covering the period from January 2001 to March 2005. The prospective view will cover the next five years but may also address long-term goals to which the RPP should strive.


Review dimensions The review panel is requested to conduct the review and to determine the strengths, weaknesses and impact of the RPP in terms of the aspects outlined below:


Performance of the RPP ? ? ? ? Assess to what extent the objectives as stated in Item 4 above have been addressed; Comment on the effectiveness and efficiency in creating and expanding the RPP for the benefit of its users, in particular its new users; Relate the input of the programme to its output, i.e. determine whether the RPP provided value for money in terms of its goal attainment; For benchmarking purposes, relate the performance of the programme , where appropriate, to similar programmes within the NRF, as well as to similar programmes in other countries; Where possible, comment also on the appropriateness of the performance indicators (output, outcome and impact) used by the RPP.



Utilisation of the RPP by users Comment on the:

ToR – Review of NLC Rental Pool Programme – finalised 15 September 2005



appropriateness of mechanisms utilized by the RPP to facilitate access of users to equipment and infrastructure, as well as to laboratories at the NLC facility; extent of use by various users; extent and impact of current and envisaged collaborations between users; impact of the RPP from a scientific community perspective; impact the RPP had that enabled users to collaborate with national and international researchers, including researchers in Africa.

? ? ? ?


Management of the RPP Comment on ? ? ? ? ? whether the management structures and processes were well designed and appropriate to achieve the objectives of the RPP; the performance of the respective role players in the management of the RPP; the effectiveness and efficiency in equipment infrastructure; maintaining and developing the

the appropriateness as well as efficient and effective use of resources (financial and human); the appraisal, monitoring and control of projects and activities supported by the RPP.


Capacity building Comment on the: ? ? impact the RPP had on the development of students, in particular postgraduate students; extent to which the RPP contributed to transformation within the wider optics, laser and spectroscopy community of the National System of Innovation, including race and gender in terms of students and grant holders.


Impact and stakeholder satisfaction ? Explore the relevance of the RPP’s objectives and the impact of its performance for the users of the RPP, including the participating HEIs, etc (i.e. determine the extent to which the expectations of stakeholders have been met and the extent to which the RPP is addressing national needs and priorities as identified in the White Paper on Science and Technology, and the National R&D Strategy).

7. 7.1

The review process The appointment of the review team, preparations and programme ? ? The assignment principal will appoint the review panel and its convenor; The review panel should comprise no more than three persons with appropriate experience and skills to conduct the review. Panel members should represent the spectrum of stakeholders of the RPP and should include a foreign expert. In addition, as a way of capacity building, one member representing the young scientists should serve on the panel; The resource documents for the review listed in the Annexure will be available to the panel well in advance of the commencement of the review; 3


ToR – Review of NLC Rental Pool Programme – finalised 15 September 2005


The service provider will draw up a programme for the review in consultation with the Reference Group and the management of the RPP. The review panel will have the opportunity to interrogate the proposed programme and to recommend amendments and additions should the need arise; The review panel will management of the departments, science student beneficiaries, have the opportunity to interview members of the RPP, stakeholders from the relative government councils, the Higher Education Sector, grant holders, etc;



The review team will decide on and pursue its own line of questioning during interviews.


Deliverables ? Verbal feedback by the review panel to the Assignment Principal, the Reference Group, appropriate representatives of DST, CSIR, NRF as well as management of the RPP and users; A preliminary report by the review panel on completion of the stakeholder interviews; A final report within two weeks of completion of the stakeholder interviews. The report should include: o o o o o o ? ? an executive summary; background to the review; evaluation questions that were addressed; key findings; recommendations; appendices containing, e.g., terms of reference, persons interviewed.

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A response from the management of the RPP within two weeks after receipt of the final report; Comments and recommendations by the Reference Group on the review process and the extent to which the terms of reference for the review have been addressed within two weeks after receipt of the final report; Placement of the final report on the CSIR and NRF websites within two weeks of its consideration by DST, the CSIR Executive and NRF Executive; Consideration and implementation of relevant recommendations contained in the final report by the management of the RPP.

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Time frame The review will take place during October 2005 depending on the availability of suitable reviewers.

9. 9.1

Budget The Evaluation Centre will submit a Reference Group for its approval. budget for the evaluation to the


50% of the costs incurred for the review will be covered from NRF RISA (Research and Innovation Support and Advancement) Executive funds and 50% from NLC funds.

The terms of reference may be amended should the need arise.

ToR – Review of NLC Rental Pool Programme – finalised 15 September 2005


Annexure Documents for the review panel Essential
Terms of Reference This document is the terms of reference for the review panel that will review the RPP Document 1: Motivation for review This document provides a one page motivation for why the NLC wishes to have the RPP reviewed. Document 2: Self-evaluation report by the National Laser Centre Rental Pool Programme This 11 page document overviews the NLC’s assessment of the RPP, from 2001 to the present. The document also highlights RPP impact, successes, failures, and concerns for the RPP going into the future. Document 3: Interim Evaluation report on the NLC This 20 page report was written in May 2003 by the NLC Advisory Board as a midterm report. The document was a report on the performance of the NLC and covers how the NLC should manage its programmes, including the RPP. This report also includes the performance of the RPP, which is describe as one of the flagship programmes of the NLC. Document 4: Bench mark Report Updated 2003: The NLC Rental Pool programme compared to other NRF funding mechanisms This 14 page benchmarking report from 2003 was updated with the information from the Rental Pool Annual Reports and preliminary information from the NRF annual reports. Document 5: Example of a typical Grant Proposal This 18 page application is a typical grant proposal from one of the applicants, as completed by an applicant in 2004. Document 6: NLC Strategic plan (2003-2006) This 42 page report written in 2002 documents the NLC’s strategic plan for the period 2003 through to 2006, and puts the RPP into the wider NLC perspective. Document 7: The Rental Pool Programme strategic five-year plan This 18 page document was written in 2003, this report documents the overview, impact with historical and futuristical plan for the RPP from 2001 to 2008. It considers past performance, and future ambitions, and was written for DST to solicit additional funding. Document 8: Summary of 2004 annual report of the Rental Pool Programme This seven page document is a summary of the 2004 RPP performance, in terms of student numbers, research outputs and collaborations, compiled from 2004 annual report submitted to NRF. Document 9: Rental Pool Programme Policy The official RPP policy, as documented in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2005 Document 10: General Guidelines on Eligibility for Support by the NLC Rental Pool Programme This one page document is last updated in 2005, the document gives the guidelines used by the RPP to determine what it supports, and to what extent. The document is a extract of the policy document. Document 11: Rental Pool Programme Stakeholder list This thirteen page document is the RPP list of stakeholders, from DST, NLC Advisory board, NLC staff, NRF staff, Industry, ALC members, HEI researchers and project review panel members – last updated August 2005.

Additional ? White Paper on Science and Technology ? South Africa’s National Research and Development Strategy 5

ToR – Review of NLC Rental Pool Programme – finalised 15 September 2005

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