In this section, the apparent cost efficiency of NSPP-funded activities is analysed based on projects' costs and their outputs, ie, the services and support that projects deliver.
Specifically, this section provides a cost analysis of NSPP-funded projects for the six month period from October 2012 to March 2013. Using MDS data, project costs have been allocated to activities in order to calculate the average cost per activity per hour for each project.
Key assumptions and caveats are as follows:
- Annual funding has been pro-rated to identify expenditure for the six month MDS snapshot period.
- It has been assumed that expenditure equates to funding, ie, NSPP funding is fully expended by the projects.
- For each project, costs have been allocated to activities based on the relative proportion of hours reported for each activity in their MDS data.
- The MDS data included in this analysis is presented in terms of 46 NSPP-funded projects, as one organisation submitted combined data for two projects (see Section 6-1).
10.2.2 Project efficiency
10.2.3 Cost drivers
10.2.1 Expenditure by program activityThe MDS program level data identifies nine program activities. For the purposes of cost analysis, these nine activities were classified as either outputs (activities which represent project outputs) or inputs (administration and other activities which are not outputs but rather support the delivery of outputs) as follows:
- Service provision
- Research and development
- Information development and provision
- Event/activity planning
- Event/activity promotion
Expenditure over the six month period totalled $8.1 million. This represents half (50%) of the total NSPP funding for the year 2012-13 (see Figure 5-1). Direct expenditure on output activities totalled $3.7 million (45%), and $4.5 million (55%) was expended on administrative and other input activities. Top of page
Expenditure on input activities was then allocated to output activities based on the relative proportion of hours for each output activity. The results (shown in the final two columns of Table 10-1) identify that the total expenditure of $8.1 million was utilised as follows:
- Service provision - $5.3m (65%)
- Research and development - $1.8m (23%)
- Information provision - $1.0m (12%)
As illustrated in Figure 10-1, if expenditure associated with input activities is allocated to the three output areas, the total expenditure associated with service provision represents nearly two-thirds (65%) of all expenditure, with R&D and information provision representing 23% and 12% of expenditure respectively.
Key findingsService provision (65%) and information provision (23%), account for 88% of expenditure. Top of page
Table 10-1: Expenditure by program activity, October 2012 to March 2013For accessibility reasons, table 10-1 is split into three parts in this html version. It is a single table in the original PDF document.
Expenditure ($ million)
Allocation of all
expenditure to outputs ($ million)
Allocation of all
expenditure to outputs (%)
|Research and development|
|Subtotal – outputs|
Expenditure ($ million)
|Subtotal – inputs|
Total expenditure$8.1 million, 100% Top of page
10.2.2 Project efficiencyTop of pageThis section provides an analysis of project efficiency by calculating and analysing the cost per hour of service provision by NSPP-funded projects. The cost per hour was calculated for each of the 39 projects that submitted data identifying time spent undertaking individual or group service provision activities.
The remaining projects did not submit individual or group activity data as they solely undertook R&D and/or information provision activities, and/or worked with other organisations to build capacity rather than delivering direct services. Based on the information available, it is not possible or meaningful to identify the cost per hour of outputs for R&D or information provision.
The cost per hour of service provision was calculated for each project by dividing the estimated expenditure associated with service provision (see Table 10-1) by the total hours of service provision, as identified in the individual and group MDS data combined.
Figure 10-2 illustrates the cost per hour and total hours of service provision for the six-month period to March 2013 for each of the 39 projects analysed.
As identified in Figure 10-2, the cost of service provision ranged from $11 to $1,144 per hour (median $344; mean $350 per hour). For most projects (75%) cost was below $444 per hour (upper quartile).
Of the 39 projects, 36 (92%) had a cost per hour of between $50 and $700, with three outliers outside this range (two above and one below this range). These three outliers are discussed below. Possible reasons to explain these outliers are identified, based upon review of available data and consultation with the projects:
- $1,114 per hour – This project had one of the highest reported percentages of time spent in relation to travel (23.5%) and administration (18.3%) which contributed to the high cost per hour. Consultation with this project indicated that it spends a significant amount of time developing resources and supporting other organisations in relation to suicide prevention rather than directly delivering services itself.
- $992 per hour – Similar to the previous project, this project reported a particularly high percentage of time spent in relation to travel (19.2%) and administration (28.8%). It is possible that low levels of recorded activity also elevated the cost per hour for this project.
- $11 per hour – This project delivered a significant amount of service provision (3,228 hours) during the period and nearly all of this was direct client support (group) using volunteers. The high use of volunteers resulted in this notably low cost per hour.
Figure 10-2: Cost per hour of service provision, October 2012 to March 2013
Text version of figure 10-2This scatter chart of hours of service provision by cost per hour shows the following key data:
- Minimum cost per hour - $11
- Lower quartile cost per hour - $137
- Median cost per hour - $344
- Mean cost per hour - $350
- Upper quartile cost per hour - $444
- Maximum cost per hour - $1,144 Top of page
10.2.3 Cost driversFurther analysis was undertaken in relation to the cost per hour of service provision, to identify key drivers of cost. This analysis explored whether cost per hour appeared to be linked to:
- Project size, measured by project funding
- Primary type of service delivered (individual or group)
- Use of volunteers
- Proportion of time spent on travel
- Proportion of time spent undertaking administration
- Proportion of time spent undertaking event/activity planning
- Project reach, ie, national, state-wide or local.
Figure 10-3 identifies the average cost per hour for each of the above categories.
As indicated in Figure 10-3, the difference in average cost per hour is relatively small for two categories:
- Individual/group: individual ($363), group ($332) – difference of $31 per hour
- Reach: state-wide ($400), national ($345), local ($339) – difference of between $6 and $55 per hour
Conversely, the difference in the average cost per hour is relatively large for the following categories:
- Project size: large ($308), small ($394) – difference of $86 per hour
- Volunteers: yes ($307), no ($360) – difference of $53 per hour
- Travel: low ($277), high ($418) – difference of $141 per hour
- Administration: low ($310), high ($387) – difference of $77 per hour
- Event/activity planning: low ($285), high ($411) – difference of $126 per hour.
Of particular note is the result for travel, which indicates that projects which spend a large amount of time undertaking travel ($418, High) have an average cost per hour some 51% higher than projects which spend less time undertaking travel ($277, Low). This suggests that travel time is potentially a key driver of costs.
It is important to note when interpreting the above analysis that the differing costs per hour may reflect a range of factors, including:
- Varying accuracy and completeness of projects' MDS reporting
- Differences in the nature of the services delivered by projects
- Relative efficiency of each NSPP project
- The cost per hour of service provision varies across projects.
- Projects that provide relatively more hours of service tend to have a lower cost per hour. This may demonstrate greater efficiency of these projects, or other factors such as data accuracy or the different types of services delivered.
- Projects that spend relatively more time on travel and event/activity planning, tend to have a higher overall cost per hour of service, ie, travel and event/activity planning appear to be key drivers of cost. Top of page
Table 10-2: Potential cost drivers
cost driver & category
Projects included in cohort
|Project size - small||Project funding for 2012-13 is below the median for all projects|
|Project size - large||Project funding for 2012-13 is above the median for all projects|
|Individual/group - individual||Projects for which the majority of service delivery time was individual|
|Individual/group - group||Projects for which the majority of service delivery time was group|
|Volunteers - yes||Projects that indicated they use volunteers|
|Volunteers - no||Projects that indicated they do not use volunteers|
|Travel - high||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on travel was above the median for all projects|
|Travel - low||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on travel was below the median for all projects|
|Administration - high||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on administration was above the median for all projects|
|Administration - low||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on administration was below the median for all projects|
|Event/activity planning - high||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on event/activity planning was above the median for all projects|
|Event/activity planning - low||Projects which reported the proportion of time spent on event/activity planning was below the median for all projects|
|Reach - national||Projects with national reach|
|Reach - state-wide||Projects with state-wide reach|
|Reach - local||Projects with local reach|
Note: The categories for all cost drivers except volunteers include the 39 projects for which the cost per hour was calculated. The categories related to volunteers include only 34 projects as information regarding volunteer numbers was not available for five projects.Top of page
Figure 10-3: Average cost per hour of service provision, by category, October 2012 to March 2013
Text version of figure 10-3
- Small - $394 per hour
- Large - $308 per hour
- Individual - $363 per hour
- Group - $332 per hour
- No - $360 per hour
- Yes - $307 per hour
- High - $418 per hour
- Low - $277 per hour
- High - $387 per hour
- Low - $310 per hour
- High - $411 per hour
- Low - $285 per hour
- State-wide - $400 per hour
- National - $345 per hour
- Local - $339 per hour