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Abbreviations and Glossary


Involves agencies and decision-makers being able to demonstrate and justify the use of public resources to government, the Parliament and the community. This necessarily involves keeping appropriate records.


Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977


Australian National Audit Office

Approver (or
decision maker)

This is the Minister or, where relevant, official with authority to determine whether an application or grant proposal will be funded under a grant program. The FMA Regulations and Commonwealth Grant Guidelines (CGGs) set down a number of requirements that are to be followed by an approver in determining whether a grant should be approved. The CGGs also set down reporting obligations where Ministers approve grants that the relevant agency recommended be rejected, and where Ministers who are Members of the House of Representatives approve grants in their own electorate.

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which all eligible, compliant applications will be assessed in order to determine their merits against the program objectives. In a competitive merit-based selection process, the assessment criteria also provide the means of ranking competing eligible applications in order of priority for approval up to the level of available program funding, so as to maximise the achievement of program objectives.


Chief Executive's Instructions


Commonwealth Grant Guidelines-Policies and Principles for Grants Administration, Financial Management Guidance No. 23, issued by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation in July 2009 under FMA Regulation 7A. The purpose of the CGGs is to establish the policy framework and articulate the Government's expectations for all agencies subject to the FMA Act and their officials when performing duties in relation to grants administration. The FMA Regulations require officials to act in accordance with the CGGs, with the CGGs setting out a number of mandatory requirements for both Ministers and officials.

(or threshold)

The eligibility, compliance and other mandatory (or gateway) criteria identified in program guidelines as threshold requirements that all applications must satisfy in order to be considered for funding.


Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet

Executive schemes

Programs established and implemented by decision of the Australian Government under authority of the executive powers provided by section 61 of the Constitution and for which specific legislative authority is not sought from the Parliament, other than in relation to the appropriation of funding.


Department of Finance and Deregulation


The key design features and related processes of a grant program will be fit-for-purpose where they are commensurate with and proportional to the scale, nature, complexity and risks involved in the granting activity such that they support effective, transparent and accountable decision-making and administration of approved grants.


Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997

FMA Regulations

Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997


FMA Regulation 3A(1) defines a grant as an arrangement for the provision of financial assistance by the Commonwealth:

  1. under which public money is to be paid to a recipient other than the Commonwealth; and
  2. which is intended to assist the recipient achieve its goals; and
  3. which is intended to promote one or more of the Australian Government's policy objectives; and
  4. under which the recipient is required to act in accordance with any terms and conditions specified in the arrangement.

FMA Regulation 3A(2) stipulates the financial arrangements that taken not to be grants for the purposes of the FMA Regulations and the CGGs.

Grants administration

The CGGs stipulate that the grants administration function encompasses the whole process of granting activity and includes:

  1. planning and design;
  2. selection and decision-making;
  3. the making of a grant;
  4. the management of funding agreements;
  5. reporting; and
  6. review and evaluation.

Key principles
for grants

The CGGs sets out the seven key principles of grants administration established by the Australian Government, as follows:

  1. Robust planning and design.
  2. An outcomes orientation.
  3. Proportionality.
  4. Collaboration and partnership.
  5. Governance and accountability.
  6. Probity and transparency.
  7. Achieving value with public money.

grant programs

Grant programs that are either:

  • programs established by legislation (and, in some cases, related legislative instruments) under which the basis on which individual grants may be paid is determined by the provisions of the legislation; or
  • programs with a broad statutory basis, but which rely upon executive power for their implementation, including in relation to the selection of funding recipients and the criteria that will applied in
    that process.


Probity refers to uprightness, honesty and ethical behaviour and 'good process'. In the context of a grant program, good process will involve clear decision-making procedures and criteria, consistent with the Government's policies and legislation and the legitimate interests of stakeholders, being established, understood and observed from the outset; all applicants being treated consistently and equitably in accordance with these procedures; and decisions being made in a transparent manner which allows them to be understood and justified.

Program outcomes

The results, impacts or consequences on the Australian community intended by government to arise through implementation of the program.

Selection criteria

The eligibility (or threshold) and assessment criteria identified in the guidelines promulgated in relation to a grant program as forming the basis on which funding recipients will be selected. The selection criteria form the key link between the program's stated objectives and the outcomes that are subsequently achieved from the funding provided. Selection criteria fall into two main groups, as follows:

  • threshold criteria are the criteria that an application must satisfy in order to be considered for funding. These are also variously expressed as 'eligibility criteria', 'mandatory criteria', 'compliance criteria' or 'gateway criteria'; and
  • assessment criteria are the criteria against which all eligible, compliant applications will be assessed in order to determine their merits against the program objectives and, for competitive programs, other competing applications.

Spending proposal

FMA Regulation 3 defines a 'spending proposal' as: 'a proposal that could lead to the creation of a contract, agreement or arrangement under which public money is, or may become, payable.' This includes a proposal relating to the making of a grant. FMA Regulations 9 to 13 outline the requirements relating to the expenditure of public money through the approval of a spending proposal.

Strategic Review

Strategic Review of the Administration of Australian Government Grant Programs, 31 July 2008.


Transparency refers to the preparedness of those involved in grants administration to open an activity and its processes to scrutiny. This involves providing reasons for all decisions that are taken and the provision of information to government, the Parliament and the community. Transparency provides assurance that grants administration processes undertaken are appropriate and that policy and legislative obligations are being met.






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