Audits in progress at July 2011
Implementation of Key Aspects of the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines
Grants administration is an important activity for many Australian Government entities, involving the payment of many billions of dollars of public funds each year. With effect from 1 July 2009, the legislative and policy framework applying to the assessment and approval of grants has been significantly enhanced. A key aspect of the new framework is the promulgation under the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997 of the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines (CGGs). The CGGs identify a number of mandatory processes, decision-making and reporting requirements for both Ministers and officials involved in grants administration. The CGGs also include guidance on sound practice in grants administration that agencies should have regard to in implementing grant programs.
The new grants administration framework has a particular focus on the establishment of transparent and accountable decision-making processes for the awarding of grants. Accordingly, it includes requirements for reporting key aspects of decision-making to the Finance Minister, including in relation to instances where Ministers who are Members of the House of Representatives award a grant within their own electorate, and reporting to the Finance Minister of instances where Ministers have decided to approve a particular grant which the relevant agency has recommended be rejected. The effectiveness of these reporting processes depend on agencies meeting their obligation under the CGGs to provide advice to Ministers on the merits of any proposed grant before a funding decision is taken. Another key obligation under the new grants policy framework is for all grants programs to have guidelines in place, with the guidelines representing one of the policy requirements that grants must be consistent with in order to be approved under the program. The CGGs also outline the role that Ministers are to play in considering and approving guidelines for new grants programs, and any changes proposed to the guidelines for an existing program.
The ANAO is undertaking two audits examining the implementation of key aspects of the CGGs.
The objective of the first audit is to examine the administration of the new grant reporting process by agencies and Finance. The audit report is expected to be tabled in the Spring 2011 Parliamentary Sittings.
The objective of the second audit is to assess the development and approval of grant program guidelines. The audit report is expected to be tabled in the Autumn 2012 Parliamentary Sittings.
Administration of the Gateway Review Process
Gateway is a project assurance methodology that involves short, intensive reviews at critical points in the project’s lifecycle by a team of reviewers not associated with the project. The intention is to provide an arm’s-length assessment of the project against its specified objectives, and early identification of areas needing corrective action.
The objective of the audit is to examine:
- the effectiveness of the administration of the Gateway Review Process by Finance and Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) agencies; and
- the extent to which those Gateway Reviews that have been conducted have contributed to improvements in the delivery of major projects.
The audit report is expected to be tabled in the Spring 2011 Parliamentary Sittings.