The objectives of this information report are to provide transparency of, and insights on, government grants expense and Commonwealth entities’ self-reporting of grants on GrantConnect.

Summary

1. GrantConnect provides centralised publication of Australian Government grant opportunities and awards. Reporting on GrantConnect is mandated from 31 December 2017 for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities. It is also mandated for corporate Commonwealth entities where a Minister is involved in the decision making.

2. Section 25 of the Auditor-General Act 1997 enables the Auditor-General at any time to cause a report to be tabled in either House of the Parliament on any matter. This is the first information report prepared by the ANAO on Australian Government grants reporting. The objectives of this information report are to provide transparency of, and insights on, government grants expense and Commonwealth entities’ self-reporting of grants on GrantConnect.

3. The primary data used for this report is based on information self-reported by entities on GrantConnect between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. In compiling this report, the ANAO also drew upon multiple data sources for analysis.1 The key information includes:

  • 108,206 grant awards were published on GrantConnect with a start date between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. These were published by 31 non-corporate Commonwealth entities and two corporate Commonwealth entities with a total value of $60.2 billion (paragraph 2.2).
  • The value of grant awards is highest for the grant categories of ‘Ageing’ ($11.9 billion, 20 per cent); ‘Health, Wellbeing and Medical Research’ ($10.4 billion, 18 per cent); and ‘Indigenous’ ($8.6 billion, 14 per cent). The categories of ‘Ageing’, ‘Children, Youth and Youth at Risk’ and ‘Disaster Relief’ received the most grants by number (Table 2.4).
  • 19 per cent of total grant funding was made through variations to the initial award (paragraph 3.15).
  • By value, between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 most grants (forty-two per cent) were awarded through a closed non-competitive selection process. However, ad hoc/one-off grants were the most numerous (twenty-four per cent) (Figure 3.1).
  • Twelve per cent of grants selected through an open competitive selection process were approved before the closing date of their associated grant opportunities (Table 4.4).
  • Of the 39,127 grant awards linked to an opportunity, 7705 (20 per cent) had a reported selection process that was different to what was reported for their related opportunities (paragraph 4.15).
  • Twenty-seven per cent of regional development grants funding were delivered to postcodes classified as ‘Major cities of Australia’ (Table 5.11).

1. Background

Introduction

1.1 An Australian Government grant is an arrangement to provide financial assistance by the Commonwealth, or on behalf of the Commonwealth:

  • under which money is to be paid to a grantee other than the Commonwealth; and
  • which is intended to help address one or more of the Australian Government’s policy outcomes while assisting the grantee to achieve its objectives.2

1.2 The Australian Government policy framework for the administration of grants is established under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act). As of August 2021, 187 Australian Government entities were governed by the PGPA Act, comprising:

  • 98 non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs);
  • 71 corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs); and
  • 18 Commonwealth companies (that is, a Corporations Act 2001 company that the Commonwealth controls).3

1.3 To achieve transparency and public accountability, government entities administering grants must comply with public reporting requirements. The Department of Finance (Finance) is the central agency with responsibility for establishing and promulgating the Australian Government’s resource management framework, which includes the grants administration policy framework. Finance’s responsibility includes the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs), resource management guides (RMGs) that are intended to assist entities in implementing relevant requirements (including public reporting), and web-based information, developed by Finance to assist entities to implement the Framework.

1.4 The CGRGs outline the mandatory requirements and better practice principles for NCEs that undertake grant administration on behalf of the Commonwealth, and apply to Ministers, accountable authorities and officials. The CGRGs establish the Commonwealth grants policy framework and the definition of a grant. CCEs and Commonwealth companies are not generally subject to the CGRGs, unless undertaking grants administration on behalf of the Commonwealth. Third parties, including non-government organisations and CCEs, are required to adhere to applicable requirements of the CGRGs, where they undertake grants administration on behalf of the Commonwealth.

1.5 In December 2020 an amendment was made to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (the PGPA Rule) to prescribe the advising, decision-making and reporting requirements that apply when a Minister is involved in the making of a corporate Commonwealth entity grant under Division 6A. This change followed Auditor-General Report No. 23 2019–20 Award of Funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program, which recommended:

The Australian Government amend the CGRGs to require that the advising, decision-making and reporting requirements applying to situations where a minister approves grant funding be extended to apply to corporate Commonwealth entities in situations where a minister, rather than the corporate entity, is the decision-maker. This would mean that there would be a single framework in place for all circumstances where a minister decides upon the award of grant funding.

1.6 Following this amendment, from 1 December 2020, CCEs are required to report grants where a Minister is involved in decision-making. There is no such requirement for Commonwealth companies.

1.7 GrantConnect was established in 2017 by the Department of Finance to provide centralised publication of forecast and current Australian Government grants. A requirement to publish grant awards was mandated from 31 December 2017. Prior to GrantConnect, entities were required to publish information on grant guidelines and awards on their entity websites.

1.8 RMG 421 Publishing and reporting Grants and GrantConnect sets out the requirements for the publication of grants on GrantConnect (Table 1.1).

Table 1.1: Grants reporting requirements as at August 2021

Requirement

Explanation

Reporting of grant opportunity guidelines

Grant opportunity guidelines must be made publicly available on GrantConnect, except where there is a specific policy reason not to publicise the grant opportunity guidelines, or where grants are provided on a one-off or ad hoc basis.

Grant awards publishing timeline

From 31 December 2017, an entity must report information on grants on GrantConnect no later than twenty-one calendar days after the grant agreement takes effect.

Confidentiality provisions

Officials must identify whether a grant agreement contains confidentiality provisions.

Provision of GO ID

From 1 July 2020, the grant opportunity identification number (GO ID) must be published as part of the grant award report.

Reporting of variations

Reporting on individual grants awarded includes reporting grant variations, where those variations involve additional payments of relevant money or significant extensions.

   

Source: CGRGs, PGPA Rule, RMG 421, Australian Government Grant News – September 2020 Edition as at August 2021.

1.9 In addition to the above reporting requirements, all PGPA Act entities must prepare an annual report, including audited financial statements, through which information regarding grants expense and associated disclosures is reported. The Australian Government’s annual Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) reports on total grants expense. CFS includes both payments meeting the CGRGs’ definition of a grant and other types of grants expense such as overseas development aid and payments made to states and territories under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009.4

Rationale and approach

1.10 The purpose of the ANAO is to support accountability and transparency in the Australian Government sector through independent reporting to the Parliament, and thereby contribute to improved public sector performance. Section 25 of the Auditor-General Act 1997 enables the Auditor-General at any time to cause a report to be tabled in either House of the Parliament on any matter.

1.11 The objectives of this information report are to provide transparency of, and insights on, government grants expense and Commonwealth entities’ self-reporting of grants on GrantConnect. To achieve this, the report analyses:

  1. Whole of Government grant awards;
  2. entities’ administration of grants;
  3. entities’ self-reporting on GrantConnect;
  4. grant award recipients; and
  5. Whole of Government grants expense.

1.12 Chapter 3 through Chapter 6 describe the grant awards reported on GrantConnect. The actual grants expense against grant awards is not reported on GrantConnect, but is reported via other means such as financial statements. Grants expense in the financial statements is discussed in Chapter 7.

1.13 This information report is not an audit or assurance review report and does not present a conclusion. The analysis of grant awards and opportunities contained in this report is based on data extracted by Finance at the end of July 2021. The ANAO has not tested the integrity of the underlying data contained in this information report and, accordingly, does not provide any assurance in respect of the reliability of the data. The ANAO performed diagnostics over the GrantConnect data provided by Finance to prepare the analysis in this report.

Data sources

1.14 In compiling this report, the ANAO drew upon seven data sources relevant to Australian Government grants (Table 1.2).5

Table 1.2: Data sources used in this information report

Data source

Purpose

Grant opportunity data for opportunities published on GrantConnect up to 30 June 2021.

 

Entities must advertise a grant opportunity on GrantConnect.a This data provides information on how entities advertise for grants, the types of selection processes to be used and the estimated total funding.

Reporting requirements for publishing grant opportunities have changed over time. This has limited the ANAO’s analysis of opportunities.

All grant opportunity data is self-reported by entities.

Grant awards data for awards started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 published on GrantConnect.

 

Grant awards report a commitment of grant expenditure. This report provides analysis of the types of financial commitments Australian Government entities make through grants.

Grant awards can be reported as an individual award or aggregated awards. Aggregated awards are a single grant record describing the total amount committed to multiple grantees.

All grant awards data is self-reported by entities and includes GST.

Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) for 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20.b

The Consolidated Financial Statements report the Australian Government grants expense.

Some grants expense reported in the CFS may not be considered a grant for the purposes of the CGRGs, such as payments for overseas development aid and payments made to states and territories under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009. The ANAO has excluded them from the analysis where possible.

Grants expense reported in the CFS excludes GST.

The published annual reports of Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies subject to the PGPA Act for 2017–18 and 2019–20.b

Data from annual reports is used to report on which government entities had grants expense for those subject to PGPA Act.

Entities report grants expense at different levels of aggregation depending on relevant financial reporting requirements. The ANAO excluded those grant expenses not meeting the CGRGs’ definition from analysis where possible.

Australian Business Register (ABR).

The ANAO has used Australian Business Number (ABN) as a unique identifier for organisation grant recipients.

Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2016 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

‘Remoteness Areas’, as defined by the ABS, comprise five categories: major cities of Australia, inner regional Australia, outer regional Australia, remote Australia and very remote Australia.c

The ANAO has linked grants to an ABS remoteness classification based on the postcode reported on GrantConnect, in which grant outcomes are reported to be delivered.

Tertiary Education Providers data from Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency published on data.gov.au.

The ANAO has used ABNs contained within the list of Tertiary Education Providers to identify recipients classified as universities.d

   

Note a: The CGRGs describe exemptions from this requirement. These exemptions are discussed in paragraph 4.3.

Note b: Where noted, grants expense to ‘states and territories’, ‘multi-jurisdictional sector’ and ‘overseas’ reported in annual reports is excluded from ANAO analysis in this report.

Note c: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1270.0.55.005 - Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure [Internet], ABS, July 2016, available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/1270.0.55.005Main+Features1July%202016?OpenDocument [accessed 12 August 2021].

Note d: Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Provider [Internet], TEQSA, 11 August 2021, available from: https://data.gov.au/dataset/ds-dga-0c4f6591-2aea-4797-a127-ae8f8a0be0e2/distribution/dist-dga-07370e3f-780b-4a70-8c87-b6796d5ab237/details?q= [accessed 12 August 2021].

1.15 Information captured by GrantConnect influences the analysis that can be undertaken. During the process of preparing for this information report, the ANAO noted the following:

  1. Users of GrantConnect can alter information previously reported if a change is made to the agreement of a grant award, such as additional payments of relevant money, significant extensions, or changes in organisation details. Each variation will be captured as a new entry and can be linked to the original grant award.
  2. Grant awards can be reported as an individual award or aggregated awards. Aggregated awards are a single grant record describing the total amount paid for multiple grants.6
  3. The GrantConnect dataset does not include information about whether a grant is administered by government grants hubs or a Minister was involved in the decision making.

1.16 This report was prepared at a cost to the ANAO of $175,000.

2. Whole of Government grant awards

2.1 A grant award results in a commitment of funding to a recipient. This chapter describes the grant awards reported on GrantConnect, including value and number of grant awards, intended outcomes of awards, the top 10 categories of grant awards, the top 10 entities administering grants, and COVID-related grants.

Value and number of grant awards

2.2 A grant award (award) is a notice published on GrantConnect of a grant being awarded by an Australian Government entity. Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, there were 108,206 awards reported by 31 non corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs) and two corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs). The total value of all awards during this period was $60.2 billion. NCEs made ninety-six per cent of awards while the remaining four per cent were awarded by CCEs.7

Table 2.1: Total number and value of awards on GrantConnect by entity type

Period

Number (and value, $million) of NCE awards

Number (and value, $million) of CCE awards

Total awards number (and value, $million)

31 December 2017–30 June 2018

7611

(5349)

84

(937)

7695

(6286)

2018–19

30,192

(22,368)

413

(274)

30,605

(22,641)

2019–20

25,080

(15,537)

475

(998)

25,555

(16,535)

2020–21

44,148

(14,628)

203

(94)

44,351

(14,723)

Total

107,031

(57,882)

1175

(2303)

108,206

(60,185)

Proportion of total by entity type

99%

(96%)

1%

(4%)

100%

(100%)

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

2.3 One third of the 108,057 awards (representing 97 per cent of awards by value) were valued at more than $100,000.8

Figure 2.1: Distribution of awards

 

A bar chart that shows the distribution of award value. As a proportion of total value of awards, 97 per cent were valued greater than $100,000.

 

Note: Grant awards with value less than or equal to $10,000 represents 0.2% of total value.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, excluding aggregated awards.

2.4 Most awards valued less than or equal to $10,000 were awarded by the Department of Social Services (DSS); the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE); the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC); and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). Together, they made up 21,585 awards, or 70 per cent (by count) of all awards valued at $10,000 or less.9

2.5 The value of grants approved was greatest in March of each year (32 per cent of all approved grants), with March 2018 having the highest value ($9.4 billion), followed by March 2019 ($5.6 billion) (Figure 2.2).10

Figure 2.2: Value and number of awards approved by month

 

A graph that shows the value and number of awards approved by month. The month having the highest value of awards approved was March 2018, with $9.4 billion approved. The highest number of awards was approved in June 2020.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect Data using award approval date.

Intended outcomes of awards

2.6 Grants form one of the primary funding methods through which the Australian Government seeks to achieve policy outcomes. Reporting the corresponding Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) program for an individual grant award provides transparency and insight into how the Government has distributed funds to meet intended policy outcomes.

2.7 In total, 352 PBS programs have been listed as relevant to grants issued between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. Table 2.2 outlines the top 10 PBS programs reported based on the associated awards value. Together, they make up 32 per cent by count and 52 per cent by value of all awards. Five are health related and funded through the Department of Health.

Table 2.2: Top 10 PBS programs by value of associated awards

Reported PBS program name

Administering entities

Number of awards

Total awards value ($million)

2018–19 Aged Care Services

Department of Health

10,694

12,243

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Department of Health

1167

3666

Families and Communities

Department of Social Services

9226

2634

Health and Medical Research

Department of Health; National Health and Medical Research Council

2680

2652

Health Workforce

Department of Health

517

2565

Discovery

Australian Research Council

3688

1748

Regional Development

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

5696

1724

Agency Costs

National Disability Insurance Agency

49

1504

Local Government

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

1082

1489

Mental Health

Department of Health

352

1161

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported PBS program name.

2.8 Among the 108,206 awards reported on GrantConnect between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, nearly all specify a corresponding PBS program. However, 335 awards described the PBS outcome as ‘Not Applicable’, including 291 awards administered by the Department of Defence with a total value of $54.5 million. Table 2.3 summarises information about the 335 awards without a reported PBS program.

Table 2.3: Awards with ‘Not Applicable’ recorded for PBS program

Entity

Reported grant program

Number of occurrences

Total value, including variations ($million)

Department of Defence

Departmental Programs

291

54

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Departmental Programs

40

14

Department of The Treasury

Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line

1

4

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Departmental Programs

1

1

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Departmental Programs

1

0.2

Department of Home Affairs

Departmental Programs

1

0.2

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported PBS program name.

Top 10 categories of awards

2.9 GrantConnect provides a detailed list of grant categories for entities to choose from when publishing an opportunity or award. Grants were reported for 28 of the 29 available grant categories. Ten categories represented 82 per cent of all reported grants in value. Table 2.4 summarises the number and value of grants awarded to the top 10 categories by total value of awards between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. Grant funding assistance is highest for ageing ($11.9 billion, 20 per cent), health, wellbeing and medical research ($10.4 billion, 18 per cent) and Indigenous ($8.6 billion, 14 per cent).11

Table 2.4: Top 10 award categories by value between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021

Category

Number of awards

Total value ($million)

Proportion of value of all awards (%)

Ageing

11,323

11,969

20

Health, Wellbeing and Medical Research

5182

10,401

17

Indigenous

7320

8607

14

Disability

3005

4445

7

Transport and Infrastructure

7152

4442

7

Academic Research

4589

2840

5

Child, Youth and Youth at Risk

20,509

1803

3

Employment and Training

222

1638

3

Industry

8542

1611

3

Agriculture

3243

1535

3

       

Note: Four categories were in the top 10 award categories by number but not in value: ‘Disaster Relief’ (8692); ‘Community Development’ (6206); ‘Environment energy and resources’ (3293); and ‘Crime, Justice and Legal Issues’ (3047). The categories of ‘Ageing’, ‘Children, Youth and Youth at Risk’ and ‘Disaster Relief’ received the most grants by number.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Top 10 grant administering entities

2.10 Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 10 entities accounted for 93 per cent ($55.9 billion) of the total value of awards. The Department of Health is the largest grant administering entity by value ($24.7 billion, or 41 per cent). The Department of Education, Skills and Employment awarded the most grants by number (21,921 awards).

Table 2.5: Top 10 grant administering entities by total awards value

Entity

Total award value ($million)

Number of awards

Department of Health (Health)

24,708

15,968

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC)

7730

12,705

Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE)

4657

21,921

Department of Social Services (DSS)

4267

10,756

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC)

2728

3192

Australian Research Council (ARC)

2645

4547

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

2614

2657

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER)

2328

9707

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

2272

635

National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

1926

2817

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

2.11 The awards from the Department of Health were valued at $13 billion in 2018-19, $6 billion in 2019-20 and $4 billion in 2020–21. The significant amount awarded in 2018–19 was related to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme ($8.3 billion).

Figure 2.3: Awards value of top 10 grant administering entities by financial year

 

A column graph showing the value of the awards of the top 10 grant administering entities for each financial year. The Department of Health awarded the most value in each financial year, from 2018–19 to 2020–21.

 

Note: The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) was established on 29 May 2019. Prior to this, it was part of Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2021. The partial year data in 2017–18 is excluded from this analysis.

COVID-19 related awards

2.12 To illustrate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Commonwealth grants expenditure, COVID-19 related awards were identified by selecting those grants containing ‘COVID’ or ‘coronavirus’ in their described purpose, activity, or program name. Using this characteristic, 12,646 awards related to COVID-19 were identified, with a combined total value of $3.7 billion. Grants related to COVID-19 represent 22 per cent of the total value of grants approved between March 2020 and June 2021.12

Figure 2.4: Value of COVID-19 related grants approved between March 2020 and June 2021

 

A bar chart that shows the value of COVID-19 related grants approved in each month between March 2020 and June 2021. The month having the highest value of approved COVID-19 related grants was December 2020.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for awards with approval date between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

2.13 Of the 12,646 COVID-19 related grants, the top 10 of these awards account for 14 per cent of all COVID-19 related grant funding. Seven were funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, two by the Department of Health and one by the National Indigenous Australians Agency. Six out of the top 10 COVID-19 related grants were awarded through a demand-driven selection process, one was awarded through an ad hoc/one-off process. Two grants were awarded through closed non-competitive processes with the remaining grant awarded through an open competitive process.13

Table 2.6: Top 10 COVID-19 related awards by value

Entity name

Recipient

Selection Process

Initial Value ($million)

Total value, including variations ($million)

Department of Health

Healthdirect Australia Ltd

Ad hoc/One-off

51

139

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Qantas Airways Limited

Demand Driven

36

70

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Regional Express Pty Ltd

Closed Non-Competitive

43

54

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Brisbane City Council

Demand Driven

41

41

National Indigenous Australians Agency

Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation

Closed Non-Competitive

19

38

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Qantas Airways Limited

Demand Driven

37

35

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd

Demand Driven

42

35

Department of Health

Australian Lung Health Initiative Pty Ltd

Open Competitive

32

32

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Swissport Pty Ltd

Demand Driven

29

29

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd

Demand Driven

25

25

         

Source: ANAO analysis of ‘COVID-19’ related GrantConnect data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

2.14 Since March 2020, 13 grant categories each had over $10 million in COVID–19 related awards. The top five categories by value comprised over 99.7 per cent of total COVID-19 related grant funding, including ‘Local Government’ (44 per cent), ‘Ageing’ (20 per cent) and ‘Health, Wellbeing and Medical Research’ (14 per cent). ‘Disaster Relief’ had the largest number of awards (7897) and represented 10 per cent of total COVID-19 related awards value.

Figure 2.5: COVID-19 related awards categories with total COVID-19 related grants value greater than $10 million

 

A bar chart that shows the number of COVID-19 related awards valued greater than $10 million in each grant award category. The category with the most grants valued greater than $10 million is Local Government, with 1489 grants.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of ‘COVID-19’ related GrantConnect data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

3. Entities’ administration of grants

3.1 The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) are principle-based and give entities flexibility in how awards are administered. This chapter uses GrantConnect data to explore the administration of grants by entities, including the method used to select, manage and vary grants.

Use of selection processes

3.2 The CGRGs specify a number of selection processes that an Australian Government entity can use to decide to whom to award a grant. The selection processes are defined as:

  • open competitive funding rounds which have open and closed nominated dates, with eligible applications being assessed against the nominated selection criteria;
  • targeted or restricted competitive funding rounds, which are open to a small number of potential grantees based on the specialised requirements of the grant activity under consideration;
  • non-competitive, open processes, under which applications may be submitted at any time over the life of the grant opportunity and are assessed individually against the selection criteria, with funding decisions in relation to each application being determined without reference to the comparative merits of other applications;
  • demand-driven or ‘first-in first-served’ processes, where applications that satisfy stated eligibility criteria rec eive funding, up to the limit of available appropriations and subject to revision, suspension or abolition of the grant opportunity;
  • closed non-competitive processes, where, for example, applicants are invited by the entity to submit applications for a particular grant and the applications or proposals are not assessed against other applicants’ submissions but assessed individually against other criteria; or
  • one-off grants, which are determined on an ad hoc basis, usually by Ministerial decision.14

3.3 Figure 3.1 shows that 42 per cent of awards by value were made through a closed non-competitive selection process. A closed non-competitive process was more likely to be used for high value grants, while an ad hoc/one-off selection process was more likely to be used to award lower value grants to a larger number of recipients.

Figure 3.1: Grant selection process

 

A bar chart showing the proportion of grants, by  number and value, using each selection process.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported selection process.

3.4 Based on the value of awards, closed non-competitive selection process was the primary method used in 2017–18 (47 per cent) and 2018–19 (61 per cent), but used less frequently in 2019–20 (35 per cent) and 2020–21 (18 per cent). The proportion of grants awarded through a targeted or restricted competitive process increased from 10 per cent in 2017–18 to 31 per cent in 2020–21. Demand driven processes also increased in use from three per cent in 2017–18 to 21 per cent in 2020–21.

Figure 3.2: Proportion of awards value by selection process and financial year

 

A proportional horizonal bar chart showing the proportion of award value by selection process and financial year.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported selection process.

3.5 Grouping all awards by the approval month, the number of awards approved by ad hoc/one-off selection process is the highest in May (14 per cent). Two-thirds of awards selected using an ad hoc/one-off selection process were approved in May or June.

Figure 3.3: Number of awards approved by selection process and by calendar month

 

A column chart showing the number of awards approved by selection process and calendar month. The number of awards approved is highest in May, in which ad hoc/one-off was the most common selected process used.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Use of ad hoc/one-off selection process

3.6 The CGRGs specify that ad hoc/one-off grants generally do not involve planned selection processes, but are instead designed to meet a specific need, often due to urgency or other circumstances.15 These grants are generally not available to a range of grantees or on an ongoing basis. When grants are provided on a one-off or ad hoc basis, entities are also exempted from publishing grant opportunity guidelines on GrantConnect.

3.7 In comparison to grants awarded by other selection processes, ad hoc/one-off grants are more likely to be high volume and have a low average value, accounting for 24 per cent of the total number and nine per cent of the total value of awards.

3.8 Between 2017–18 and 2020–21, the use of ad hoc/one-off processes increased from 11 per cent of to 15 per cent by value and from eight per cent to 43 per cent by number of the total awards.

Figure 3.4: Proportion of awards selected through an ad hoc/one-off process by value and by number

 

A column graph showing the proportion of awards selected through an ad hoc/one-off selection process. In 2020–21 ad hoc/one-off processes were used in 43 per cent of awards, representing 15 per cent of the value of all awards.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

3.9 Table 3.1 shows the 10 grant administering entities that have awarded the most grants through an ad hoc/one-off selection process. These entities make up 97 per cent of the total value of ad hoc/one-off grants.

Table 3.1: Top 10 grant administering entities by total value of grants awarded through an ad hoc/one-off selection process

Entity name

Total value awarded through an ad hoc/one-off process ($million)

Total value awarded by entity ($million)

Proportion of award value administered through an ad hoc/one-off process (%)

Department of Health

1429

24,708

6

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

864

4657

19

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

852

1644

52

Department of Social Services

665

4267

16

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

567

2328

24

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

333

7730

4

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

291

505

58

Department of Home Affairs

179

506

35

Department of Defence

56

585

10

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

40

197

20

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

3.10 For nine of the 24 entities that administered awards through ad hoc/one-off processes, ad hoc/one-off awards accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total value awarded.

Table 3.2: Entities for which ad hoc/one-off grants accounted for more than 50 per cent of total value awarded

Entity name

Total value awarded through an ad hoc/one-off process ($million)

Total value awarded by entity ($million)

Proportion of awards by entity administered through an ad hoc/one-off process (%)

Australian Federal Police

16.3

16.3

100

National Mental Health Commission

6.9

6.9

100

Australian Taxation Office

5.7

5.7

100

Geoscience Australia

0.7

0.8

97

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

23.4

31.1

75

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

291.4

504.9

58

Safe Work Australia

0.4

0.7

56

Department of the Treasury

37.4

68.9

54

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

851.8

1643.9

52

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Use of closed non-competitive selection process

3.11 The CGRGs specify that closed non-competitive grants are administered to applicants who have been invited by the entity to submit an application for a particular grant. These grants are not assessed against other applicants’ submissions but are assessed individually against other criteria.16

3.12 The proportion of value awarded via closed non-competitive processes increased from 47 per cent in 2017–18 to 61 per cent in 2018–19, and then decreased to 18 percent in 2020–21. The proportion of the number of awards via this process declined from 22 per cent in 2017–18 to nine per cent in 2020–21.

Figure 3.5: Proportion of awards selected through a closed non-competitive process by value and by number

 

A column graph showing the proportion of awards selected through a closed non-competitive process. In 2020–21 closed non-competitive processes were used in 9 per cent of awards, representing 18 per cent of the value of all awards.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

3.13 Table 3.3 shows the 10 entities that have awarded the most grants through a closed non-competitive selection process. These entities make up over 99 per cent of the total value of closed non-competitive grant awards.

Table 3.3: Top 10 grant administering entities by total value of grants awarded through a closed non-competitive selection process

Entity name

Total value awarded through a closed non-competitive process ($million)

Total value awarded by entity ($million)

Proportion of awards by entity administered through a closed non-competitive process (%)

Department of Health

14,757

24,708

60

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

3336

7730

43

Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet

2461

2728

90

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

1831

4657

39

National Indigenous Australians Agency

1144

1926

59

Department of Social Services

994

4267

23

Organ and Tissue Authority

199

216

92

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

170

2328

7

Department of Agriculture, Water and The Environment

69

1644

4

Department of Defence

65

585

11

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021

3.14 For five of the 22 entities that administered awards through closed non-competitive processes, closed non-competitive awards accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total value awarded.

Table 3.4: Entities for which closed non-competitive grants accounted for more than 50 per cent of total value awarded

Entity name

Total value awarded through a closed non-competitive ($million)

Total value awarded by entity ($million)

Proportion of award value administered through a closed non-competitive process (%)

Department of Finance

5

5

100

Organ and Tissue Authority

199

216

92

Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet

2461

2728

90

Department of Health

14,757

24,708

60

National Indigenous Australians Agency

1144

1926

59

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Variations to awards

3.15 Variations to grant awards represented 19 per cent of the total value of awards reported on GrantConnect. Of the $60.2 billion awarded between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, $48.9 billion were awarded in initial grant agreements and $11.3 billion (19 per cent) were added through variations.

3.16 A grant awarded to Ku Children’s Services by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment through a closed non-competitive process had the largest absolute variation. The variation increased the award value from $93.6 million to $468.1 million.

3.17 The largest variation, as a proportion of the original award value, was for a grant awarded to Active Foundation Incorporated by the Department of Social Services (DSS), which increased from an initial value of $1.10 to a final value of $834,569. This was one of 180 awards published by DSS with initial values between $1.10 and $3.30 that were subsequently varied between $0.01 and $1.8 million.17

3.18 The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule) and CGRGs do not limit the number of variations. One grant administered by the Department of Health for aged care services was varied 65 times, the highest number of variations for any grant award. A reason for the variation was reported for only the first four variations, including increases to the value of the grant and extension of the award end date by two years.

Confidential awards

3.19 The CGRGs state that ‘Officials must identify whether a grant agreement contains confidentiality provisions’. GrantConnect data captures several types of information relating to confidentiality, comprising:

  • whether a grant agreement is confidential (e.g. if the agreement contains any confidentiality clauses) and, if yes, the reason; and
  • whether an award’s output is confidential (e.g. if information obtained in carrying out the agreement is confidential) and, if yes, the reason.

3.20 Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 6193 awards (six per cent of all awards) reported a confidential contract clause or output. Awards with a confidentiality provision or output were valued at $5.2 billion, representing nine per cent of total value.

Table 3.5: Value and number of confidential awards by financial year

Financial year

Total value of confidential awards ($million)

Proportion of total awards value (%)

Total number of confidential awards

Proportion of total awards number (%)

31 December 2017–30 June 2018

885

14

524

7

2018–19

999

4

1825

6

2019–20

1724

10

1877

7

2020–21

1557

11

1967

4

         

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards reported as confidential started between 31 December 2019 and 30 June 2021.

3.21 Fifty-one per cent of confidential awards were selected through a targeted or restricted competitive process.

Table 3.6: Confidential awards by selection process

Selection process

Value of confidential awards ($million)

Number of confidential awards

Proportion of total by number (%)

Open competitive

23

210

3

Targeted or restricted competitive

3535

3151

51

Open non-competitive

248

272

4

Demand driven

321

1690

27

Closed non-competitive

434

95

2

Ad hoc/one-off

602

775

13

Total

5164

6193

100

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards reported as confidential started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

3.22 Seventeen grants administering entities reported confidential awards at least once between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. The entity reporting the highest number of confidential awards was the National Health and Medical Research Council, which reported all of its grants (2657) as having both confidential agreements and outputs.18

Table 3.7: Top 10 entities that administered confidential awards by number of awards

Entity

Value of confidential awards ($million)

Number of confidential awards

National Health and Medical Research Council

2614

2657

Attorney-General’s Department

15

1483

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

20

1002

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

195

375

Department of Health

635

359

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

10

115

Organ and Tissue Authority

193

61

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

607

48

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

525

39

Australian Communications and Media Authority

4

27

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards reported as confidential started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Administrative process used by the top 10 awards

3.23 The top 10 awards reported on GrantConnect between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 represent about six per cent of total value reported during this period.19

  • Of these top 10 awards, eight were selected using a closed non-competitive process.
  • Six had at least one variation to increase the funding commitment.
  • The highest-value award was funded via an ad hoc/one-off selection process to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in 2018. The grant administration and implementation processes regarding this award were audited by the ANAO in 2018–19 and 2020–21.20

Table 3.8: Top 10 awards by value

Entity

Initial value ($million)

Total value, including variations ($million)

Selection process

Recipient

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

488

488

Ad hoc/One-off

Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

94

468

Closed Non-Competitive

Ku Children’s Services

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

30

400

Closed Non-Competitive

Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited

Department of Defence

112

332

Targeted or Restricted Competitive

Nato-Afghan National Army Trust Fund

Department of Health

136

311

Closed Non-Competitive

Australian Unity Home Care Service Pty Ltd

Department of Health

127

289

Closed Non-Competitive

Transport For NSW

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

282

282

Closed Non-Competitive

Screen Australia

Department of Health

77

242

Closed Non-Competitive

Royal District Nursing Service Limited

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

235

235

Closed Non-Competitive

Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

220

220

Closed Non-Competitive

Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited

         

Note: This analysis excludes aggregated awards.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

4. Entities’ self-reporting on GrantConnect

4.1 The Commonwealth grants framework specifies reporting requirements for entities awarding grants. The requirement for grant awards to be reported on GrantConnect was mandated from 31 December 2017. The requirement for grant opportunities to be published on GrantConnect was mandated from August 2017, although was optional from April 2017. This chapter uses GrantConnect data to provide information on entities self-reporting on GrantConnect based on reporting requirements (refer Table 1.1).

Entities reporting awards on GrantConnect

4.2 Between 2017–18 and 2019–20, 58 Australian Government entities reported grants expense in their annual reports and financial statements. Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 31 non-corporate Commonwealth entities and two corporate Commonwealth entities (Wine Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency) reported awards on GrantConnect. No Commonwealth company reported grants on GrantConnect during this period.21

Table 4.1: Number of entities reporting grants expense in annual reports and awards on GrantConnect

Entity type

Number of entities reporting grants expense in annual reports (2017–18 to 2019–20)

Number of entities reporting awards on GrantConnect (31 Dec 2017–30 Jun 2021)

Non-corporate Commonwealth entities

33

31

Corporate Commonwealth entities

22

2

Commonwealth Companies

3a

0

Total

58

33

     

Note a: The three Commonwealth Companies are: Australian Sports Foundation Limited, Creative Partnerships Australia Ltd, and Outback Stores Pty Ltd.

Note: Four non-corporate Commonwealth entities reported grant expense in their annual reports but did not report awards on GrantConnect. Two non-corporate Commonwealth entities reported awards on GrantConnect but did not report grants expense in their annual reports.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for grants started between 31 December 2017 to 30 June 2021 and annual report data of Commonwealth entities and companies.

4.3 Entities are exempted from reporting grant opportunities where there is a specific policy reason to not publicise the grant opportunity guidelines, or where grants are provided on a one-off or ad hoc basis. Additionally, where officials assess that publishing grant information in accordance with the CGRGs could adversely affect the achievement of policy outcomes, the responsible Minister may seek an exemption from the Finance Minister.22 Unless an exemption is obtained, reporting of awards is mandated for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities, and for relevant corporate Commonwealth entities when a Minister is involved in the decision making. The non-corporate Commonwealth entities that reported grants expense in their financial statements but did not report a corresponding grant award on GrantConnect are shown in Table 4.2.

Table 4.2: Non-corporate Commonwealth entities that reported grants expense in annual reports but did not report awards on GrantConnect (2017–18 to 2019–20)

Entity name

Grants expense reported in annual reports ($000s)

 

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Australian Institute of Criminologya

488

328

180

Australian Prudential Regulation Authorityb

129

119

103

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centrec

40

10

National Archives of Australia

20

20

34

       

Note a: The Australian Institute of Criminology reported grants activities in its annual reports, but advised the ANAO that these activities were procurements and not classified as grants in its financial statements.

Note b: The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority advised the ANAO that this expenditure, while reported as ‘Grants and Scholarships’, consists only of scholarships during these periods.

Note c: The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre advised the ANAO that the above grants were reported on its website and annual reports. The above grants, and future grants, will be reported on GrantConnect.

Source: ANAO analysis of non-corporate Commonwealth entities annual reports and GrantConnect data between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Linkage between grant opportunities and awards

4.4 Multiple awards can be linked to a single opportunity. When reporting awards, GrantConnect allows entities to record the related grant opportunity identification number (GO ID). Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 36 per cent of awards (39,127 awards) included a GO ID that enabled linkage to a published opportunity.

4.5 From 1 July 2020 the Department of Finance (Finance) required all awards to be linked to the relevant opportunity. In April 2021, Finance implemented a system control that requires entities to link new awards to existing opportunities.23 Figure 4.1 indicates that after this control was implemented, 95 per cent of awards were published with a GO ID in April and May 2021 but this dropped to 81 per cent in June 2021.24

Figure 4.1: Proportion of awards with a linked opportunity by month

 

A graph showing the proportion of awards with a linked opportunity by month. The proportional has increased over time, rising to a maximum of 95 per cent of awards in April and May 2021, but falling to 81 per cent of awards in June 2021.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for awards published between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2021.

4.6 There were 707 opportunities with at least one linked award. For 51 opportunities (seven per cent), awards linked to the same opportunity were reported to have been selected through multiple selection processes, including selection processes different from what was originally published in the grant opportunity. For example, the selection process for a ‘Business Improvement Fund’ grant administered by the Department of Health under the Aged Care Quality PBS Program was published as ‘Targeted or Restricted Competitive’ in its opportunity but its awards were selected through five separate processes.

Timeliness of reporting

4.7 GrantConnect records six dates associated with the grant administration process. These are:

  • opportunity publishing date;
  • opportunity closing date;
  • award approval date;
  • award start date, which can be the date on which a grant agreement is signed or a specified starting date;
  • award publishing date; and
  • expected award end date.

4.8 For 39,127 awards that have a linked opportunity, the ANAO analysed the difference between the:

  • opportunity publishing and award start date;
  • opportunity closing and award approval date;
  • award approval and start date; and
  • award start and publishing date.25

Difference between opportunity publishing and award start date

4.9 Of the 39,127 grant awards that were linked to an opportunity, 1930 (five per cent) had an award start date prior to the related opportunity publishing date. Table 4.3 shows that the majority of these awards were reported by Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

Table 4.3: Entities that reported awards with a start date prior to the publishing of their related opportunities

Entity name

Number of awards

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

1454

Department of Health

221

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

99

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

66

Department of Defence

44

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

36

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

6

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

2

Attorney-General’s Department

1

National Health and Medical Research Council

1

   

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for awards started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 that are linked to an opportunity.

Difference between opportunity closing and award approval date

4.10 15,810 awards with a total value of $7.5 billion were approved prior to their related opportunity closing date.26 Grants awarded through an ad hoc/one-off, demand driven, closed non-competitive or open non-competitive selection process may be approved prior to the opportunity closing date because an application can be assessed without reference to the comparative merits of other applications. Of the grants awarded prior to their related opportunity closing date, 14,498 ($6.5 billion) were of these types.

4.11 Open competitive selection processes involve the assessment of applications against the nominated selection criteria. Twelve per cent of grants selected through open competitive processes, and nine per cent of grants selected through targeted or restricted competitive processes, were approved before the opportunity closing date.27

Table 4.4: Grants with competitive selection processes approved prior to the opportunity closing date by selection process

Selection process

Number of awards approved prior to the opportunity closing date

Total number of awards with a linked opportunity

Proportion of total number (%)

Open competitive

582

4930

12

Targeted or restricted competitive

730

8512

9

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect linked opportunities and awards data that has reported award approval date and opportunity closing date.

Difference between award start and approval date

4.12 Eighty-one grant awards (0.07 per cent) with a total reported value of $177.5 million had a start date prior to their approval date (Table 4.5).

Table 4.5: Entities reporting awards with start dates preceding approval dates

Entity name

Number of awards with start dates preceding approval dates

Total value associated with these awards ($million)

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

3

68.0

Australian Research Council

49

61.2

Department of Defence

7

25.3

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

3

20.7

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

3

1.7

National Indigenous Australians Agency

4

0.3

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

1

0.2

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

11

0.1

Total

81

177.5

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Difference between award start and publishing date

4.13 The CGRGs and PGPA Rules require relevant entities to report awards on GrantConnect within 21 days of executing an agreement.Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 81 per cent of the 108,206 awards reported on GrantConnect were published within 21 days of the award start date. Timely reporting of awards increased from 57 per cent in 2017-18 to 89 per cent in 2020–21.

Figure 4.2: Proportion of awards published within 21 days of award start date

 

A column graph showing the proportion of awards published within 21 days of the award start date. The proportion increased from 57 per cent in 2018–19 to 91 per cent in 2019–20, but fell to 89 per cent in 2020–21.

 

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported award start and publish dates.

4.14 Reporting of awards has become more timely over the last three years. The average duration between start and publishing date decreased from 48 days in 2017–18 to 10 days in 2020–21, with half of awards reported within eight days of their start dates in 2020–21.

Table 4.6: Difference between award start and publishing dates

Financial year

Number of awards

Average (days)

Median (days)

2017–18

7695

48

18

2018–19

30,605

25

14

2019–20

25,555

15

5

2020–21

44,351

10

8

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data between 31 December 2017 to 30 June 2021 using reported award start and approval dates.

Consistency between opportunity and award

Difference in reported selection process between opportunity and award

4.15 Of the 39,127 awards linked to an opportunity, 7705 (20 per cent) had a reported selection process that was different to what was reported for their related opportunities. The most common difference was opportunities reported to be ‘open non-competitive’, but later reported as a ‘ad hoc/one-off’ grant awards (3849). There were also 852 grants awarded through ‘targeted or restricted competitive’ process but with opportunities describing the selection process as ‘open competitive’.

Table 4.7: Number of grants where reported selection process varied between opportunity and award

 

Reported award selection process

 

Reported opportunity selection process

Ad hoc /one-off

Closed non-competitive

Demand driven

Open competitive

Open non-competitive

Targeted or restricted competitive

Total

Ad hoc/One-off

0

5

1

1

0

127

134

Closed non-competitive

61

0

2

35

6

407

511

Demand driven

0

0

0

377

5

2

384

Open competitive

23

16

0

0

45

852

936

Open non-competitive

3849

0

22

68

0

88

4027

Targeted or restricted competitive

195

920

8

275

315

0

1713

Total

4128

941

33

756

371

1476

7705

               

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for awards started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 and their linked opportunities using reported selection processes.

Difference in total value between opportunity and award

4.16 When an opportunity is reported on GrantConnect, an entity can specify an estimated total award value. Of 707 opportunities with linked awards, 494 recorded a value. Of these, 261 (53 per cent) were linked to awards with a total value that was higher than the estimated opportunity value. One grant administered by the Department of Health had a reported opportunity value of $1.3 million and a reported total awards value of $1.4 billion, representing the largest proportional difference.28

4.17 Among the 29 entities that reported opportunities with at least one linked award, 19 (66 per cent) reported total award value exceeding the linked opportunity value at least once.

Table 4.8: Entities reporting total award value exceeding the linked opportunity value

Entity

Number of opportunities where the total award value exceeded the opportunity value

Department of Health

131

National Health and Medical Research Council

47

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

17

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

12

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

11

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

8

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

8

Department of Defence

5

Department of Home Affairs

5

Attorney-General’s Department

4

Australian Trade and Investment Commission

3

Wine Australia

2

National Blood Authority

2

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

1

Cancer Australia

1

Australian Taxation Office

1

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

1

Australian Communications and Media Authority

1

Department of Finance

1

Total

261

   

Note: This analysis excludes three linked opportunities with a reported value of zero.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data for grant awards started from 31 December to 30 June 2021 and their related opportunities.

5. Grant award recipients

5.1 This chapter examines the characteristics of award recipients. Recipient characteristics have been taken from the Australian Business Register, using the Australian Business Number (ABN) reported on GrantConnect. Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 103,561 awards were made with a recorded ABN. This chapter does not examine the 149 aggregate grant awards (totalling $2.1 billion) that do not identify individual recipients, or the 4496 awards made to single recipients without an ABN (totalling $0.6 billion). The 103,561 awards ($57.5 billion) with an ABN recorded forms the basis of the analysis undertaken in this Chapter.29

Types of award recipients

5.2 For awards started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, there are 34 unique recipient types that make up all recipients with an identifiable ABN.30 Of these, recipients classified as ‘Australian Public Company’ made up the highest total award value while ‘Other Incorporated Entity’ had the highest number of awards.

5.3 Table 5.1 presents the top ten recipient types by value. Together, they make up 92 per cent of the total awards value. Of these ten, three relate to State Governments accounting for five per cent of the total value of awards reported between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

Table 5.1: Top ten recipient types by awards value

Recipient type

Number of awards

Total value ($million)

Australian Public Company

13,906

20,530

Other Incorporated Entity

38,944

18,547

Australian Private Company

25,471

4972

Local Government Entity

6858

4215

Other Unincorporated Entity

5328

3507

State Government Entity

3135

1692

State Government Statutory Authority

530

560

State Government Other Incorporated Entity

218

519

Commonwealth Government Entity

331

489

Territory Government Entity

283

386

     

Note: Definitions of recipient types are available from: https://abr.business.gov.au/Help/EntityTypeList.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 with an ABN recorded.

Top 10 recipients

5.4 Five universities make up half of the top 10 recipients of awards by value (Table 5.2). The University of Melbourne and Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited, a Commonwealth company, are the top two recipients by total value received.

Table 5.2: Top 10 recipients by total value of awards

Recipient namea

Total awards value ($million)

Number of awards

University of Melbourne

1035

1009

Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited

941

5

Monash University

884

996

The University of Queensland

809

830

University of New South Wales

802

880

The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (Q.)

729

106

University of Sydney

722

787

Australian Unity Home Care Service Pty Ltd

605

25

Qantas Airways Limited

510

7

Great Barrier Reef Foundation

493

2

     

Note a: Recipient name is the name as it appears in the Australian Business Register.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect data between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

5.5 Seafrigo Australia Pty Ltd received the largest number of grants (2003) totalling $10 million. Seafrigo Australia Pty Ltd grants were awarded by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission with the description: ‘Respond to the collapse of international airfreight capacity in and out of Australia as a result of COVID-19’. Five universities make up half of the top 10 recipients of awards by the number of awards received (Table 5.3).

Table 5.3: Top 10 recipients by number of awards

Recipient name

Total awards value ($million)

Number of awards

Seafrigo Australia Pty Ltd

10

2003

CT Freight Pty Ltd

68

1712

DHL Global Forwarding (Australia) Pty Ltd

78

1133

Camp Australia Pty Ltd

16

1071

University of Melbourne

1035

1009

Monash University

884

996

The trustee for Seaway Logistics Unit Trust

25

902

University of New South Wales

802

880

The University of Queensland

809

830

University of Sydney

722

787

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

5.6 Grants were reported for 28 of the 29 available grant categories (refer paragraph 2.9). Table 5.4 shows the top awards recipient by total value within each of the reported 28 grant categories.

Table 5.4: Top recipient by awards value for each grant category

Category

Recipient name

Total award value to top recipient ($million)

Number of awards to top recipient

Proportion of category value represented by top recipient (%)

Academic Research

University of Melbourne

353

482

12

Ageing

The Uniting Church in Australian Property Trust (Q.)

692

24

6

Agriculture

The Trustee for The Salvation Army (VICTORIA) Property Trust

91

1

6

Arts and Culture

Screen Australia

282

1

29

Child, Youth and Youth at Risk

Ku Children’s Services

472

61

26

Community Development

Brotherhood of Saint Laurence

92

3

6

Crime, Justice and Legal Issues

Relationships Australia (QLD)

123

21

8

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Settlement Services International Limited

47

2

17

Diplomacy Services

New South Wales Rugby League

2

1

1

Disability

The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW)

412

3

9

Disaster Relief

National Aerial Firefighting Centre

108

1

18

Education

Australian National University

141

8

10

Employment and Training

WorldSkills Australia

8

2

0

Environment, Energy and Resources

Great Barrier Reef Foundation

493

2

38

Health, Wellbeing and Medical Research

University of Melbourne

579

444

6

Housing and Homelessness

Catholiccare Australia

18

1

43

Indigenous

Northern Territory of Australia

211

42

2

Industry

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Limited

94

1

6

Information and Communication

Telstra Corporation Limited

67

6

28

International Aid and Developmenta

The Australian Labor Party National Secretariat

1

1

25

The Liberal Party of Australia – Federal Secretariat

1

1

25

Local Government

Brisbane City Council

52

2

4

Philanthropy, Voluntarism and Not-for-Profits Infrastructure

The Centre for Volunteering

0.9

1

7

Recreation and Sport

City of Swan

26

3

9

Science and Technology

Curtin University

75

4

33

Social Inclusion and Social Justice

Australian Red Cross Society

14

3

13

Trade and Tourism

Rottnest Island Authority

17

1

32

Transport and Infrastructure

Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited

941

5

21

Veterans and Defence

Defence CRC Tas Limited

55

1

8

         

Note a: Two recipients received the same total award value for this category.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported categories.

University recipients

5.7 Universities were identified by matching recipient’s ABN to a provider dataset published by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). The 60 university recipients identified were awarded 9057 grants totalling $8.3 billion between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, with 32 per cent by value awarded by the Australian Research Council (ARC).31

5.8 More than 83 per cent of grants (valued at $6.8 billion) awarded to university recipients were categorised as ‘health, wellbeing and medical research’ or ‘academic research’ grants.

Table 5.5: Grant categories each accounting for more than $100 million of grants to universities

Category

Total awards value to universities ($million)

Number of awards

Health, Wellbeing and Medical Research

4095

2765

Academic Research

2745

4571

Education

647

154

Science and Technology

161

138

Environment, Energy and Resources

156

121

Agriculture

100

96

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 and awarded to recipients identified as ‘Universities’ by TEQSA.

Local Government recipients

5.9 There are 589 grant recipients that are classified as ‘Local Government Entity’ according to the Australian Business Register. In total, this group received $4.8 billion through 7344 awards between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021. The top 10 ‘Local Government Entity’ recipients account for 12 per cent by value of all grants awarded to this group.

Table 5.6: Top 10 ‘Local Government Entity’ recipients by value

Recipient name

State/Territory

Total award value ($million)

Number of awards

MacDonnell Regional Council

Northern Territory

63

46

Central Desert Regional Council

Northern Territory

60

32

Moreton Bay Regional Council

Queensland

60

20

Roper Gulf Regional Council

Northern Territory

60

31

City of Swan

Western Australia

59

22

Brisbane City Council

Queensland

57

10

Northern Land Council

Northern Territory

55

13

City of Greater Geelong

Victoria

52

35

East Arnhem Regional Council

Northern Territory

48

41

Norfolk Island Regional Council

New South Wales

47

6

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 and awarded to recipients identified as ‘Local Government Entity’ on the ABR.

5.10 Table 5.7 shows the seven grant categories that each has over $100 million awarded to the ‘Local Government Entity’ recipients.

Table 5.7: Grant categories with more than $100 million of awards to ‘Local Government Entity’ recipients

Category

Total awards value ($million)

Number of awards

Local Government

1442

1062

Transport and Infrastructure

1174

1324

Ageing

960

1854

Indigenous

438

449

Agriculture

352

689

Recreation and Sport

155

80

Child, Youth and Youth at Risk

136

894

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using categories of awards for recipients identified as Local Government Entities on the ABR.

Recipients of grants across multiple categories

5.11 Based on entities’ self-reported grant categories, 38 recipients received grants across ten or more categories.32 The majority of these recipients are universities, with the remaining being some local government entities, the Australian Red Cross Society, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). An additional 388 recipients received grants across between five and nine categories. The recipients with most categories are indicated in Table 5.8.

Table 5.8: Top ten recipients with most categories

Recipient name

Number of grant categories

University of Melbourne

19

Curtin University

17

Griffith University

16

University of Sydney

15

The University of Adelaide

15

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

15

Deakin University

15

University of New South Wales

14

Macquarie University

14

La Trobe University

14

   

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, where an ABN has received grants across 5 or more categories.

Regional and rural development grants

5.12 Expanding on the 29 high level grant categories, two grant subcategories allow location analysis to be undertaken for regional and rural development grants.33

5.13 Between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 6668 regional and 433 rural development grants totalling $2.6 billion were awarded.34

Table 5.9: Value and number of regional and rural development awards

Category name

Total awards value ($million)

Number of awards

Regional Development

2310

6668

Rural Development

322

433

Total

2632

7101

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported categories.

Regional development grants

5.14 Of 5005 regional development grant recipients, seven of the top ten recipients by value were local councils.

Table 5.10: Top 10 recipients by value of regional development grants

Recipient name

Total award value ($million)

Number of awards

Moreton Bay Regional Council (Queensland)

38

5

The University of Newcastle

33

1

NIOA Nominees Pty Ltd T/F Bill Nioa Family Trust

31

1

Eurobodalla Shire Council (New South Wales)

29

10

Greater Shepparton City Council (Victoria)

27

7

Shire of Murray (Western Australia)

25

5

Health Administration Corporation

25

1

Latrobe City Council (Victoria)

23

18

Whitsunday Regional Council (Queensland)

22

7

Yarra Ranges Shire Council (Victoria)

21

22

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021.

5.15 By value, 60 per cent of regional development grants were awarded to recipients associated with postcodes classified as ‘Inner regional’ or ‘Outer regional’ and eight per cent to ‘Remote’ or ‘Very remote’. Twenty-seven per cent was awarded to postcodes classified as ‘Major cities’.35

Table 5.11: Remoteness of postcodes associated with regional development grants

Remoteness area

Total awards value ($million)

Number of awards

Proportion of regional development grants value (%)

Inner regional

860

1664

37

Major cities

624

3682

27

Outer regional

521

937

23

Remote

93

155

4

Very remote

88

154

4

Postcode not specified

125

76

5

Total

2310

6668

100

       

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, and ABS Remoteness Structure 2016.

Rural development grants

5.16 Wine Australia received the largest rural development award at $33 million, accounting for 15 per cent of the total value of this category.

Table 5.12: Recipients that received $10 million or more of rural development grants

Recipient Name

Total award value ($million)

Number of awards

Wine Australia

33

1

Invasive Animals Ltd

17

3

Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW South Region Incorporated

15

5

Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation

12

3

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Queensland)

11

6

iFarm Australia Pty Ltd

11

2

Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited

10

3

     

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using reported categories.

5.17 A large majority (76 per cent by number or 96 per cent by value) of rural development grants did not specify a postcode of where the grant outcomes were to be delivered. For this reason, the ANAO did not undertake further analysis of the location of rural development grants. Finance advised the ANAO that where grants may be delivered across a State or Territory, the State or Territory may be specified instead of a postcode.

Validity of recipients’ Australian Business Number

5.18 The ANAO identified 100 awards published on GrantConnect after recipients’ Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) were cancelled.36 Of these:

  • 85 awards reported an approval date on GrantConnect that was after the ABN cancellation date of the recipient; and
  • 92 awards reported a start date on GrantConnect that was after the ABN cancellation date of the recipient.

5.19 Table 5.13 shows for the 85 awards that were approved after the recipient’s ABN was cancelled, half were approved at least 809 days after their ABN cancellation dates.

Table 5.13: Difference between ‘Approval Date’ and ‘ABN Cancellation Date’ for awards approved after recipients’ ABNs were cancelled

Statistical measure

Difference between ‘Approval Date’ and ‘ABN Cancellation Date’ (days)

Minimum

5

Maximum

7861

Median

809

   

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect awards data for grants started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021 using award approval date and ABN cancellation date.

5.20 The ANAO did not confirm if the grant opportunity guidelines of specific grant awards required a valid ABN.

6. Whole of Government grants expense

6.1 A grant award is a commitment of expenditure. This chapter describes Commonwealth entities’ grants expense, which is the actual expenditure against these commitments. The ANAO analysed the annual Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) between 2017–18 and 2019–20, as well as financial statements within annual reports published by Commonwealth entities and Commonwealth companies subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

6.2 As discussed in Chapter 2, some grants expense reported in the CFS may not be considered a grant for the purposes of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs). As such, this chapter does not directly compare financial statements and GrantConnect reporting. Entities report grants expense at different levels of aggregation depending on relevant financial reporting requirements. From public reporting it is not always possible to identify if reported grants expense meets the CGRGs definition.37 The ANAO has excluded the grants expense not within the scope of the CGRGs definition from the analysis where possible.

Grants expense reported in CFS

6.3 Between 2017–18 and 2019-20, the Australian Government spent $50.4 billion on grants. Total grants expense increased from $15.4 billion in 2017–18 to $18.1 billion in 2019–20. Annual grants expense was three per cent of total Australian Government expenses in each year.

Table 6.1: Australian Government grants expense from 2017–18 to 2019–20

Expense types

Recipient types

2017–18 ($million)

2018–19 ($million)

2019–20 ($million)

Total ($million)

Current grant expense

Private sector

8319

9857

10,500

28,676

Non-profit organisations

4744

5330

5652

15,726

Other

1266

1019

1214

3499

Capital grant expense

Private sector

190

85

52

327

Non-profit organisations

674

550

627

1851

Non-profit organisations

245

9

32

286

Total grants expense

15,438

16,850

18,077

50,365

           

Note: Grants expense to ‘states and territories’, ‘multi-jurisdictional sector’ and ‘overseas aid’ in the CFS reports are excluded. These expenses are not considered as grants under the definition of CGRGs. ‘Other’ includes grants not covered by other categories such as payments to individuals.

Source: The 2018–19, and 2019–20 Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 3E.

6.4 Between 2017–18 and 2019–20 the proportion of grants expense paid to private sector organisations increased from 55 per cent to 58 per cent, while the proportion paid to non-profit organisations remained consistent at 35 per cent. In absolute terms, grants expense to private sector and non-profit organisations increased by 24 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, between 2017–18 and 2019–20.

Figure 6.1: Grants expense to different sectors, 2017–18 to 2019–20

 

A column graph showing the grants expense to different sectors between 2017–18 and 2019–20. Grants expense to the private sector has increased from $8,509,000 in 2017–18 to $10,552,000 in 2019–20.

 

Source: The 2017–18, 2018–19, and 2019–20 Consolidated Financial Statements, Note 3E.

Grants expense by selected entities

Non-corporate Commonwealth entities

6.5 Thirty-two NCEs reported grant expense in their financial statements between 2017–18 and 2019–20. Five NCEs accounted for 84 per cent of all NCE grants expense.

Table 6.2: Top five NCEs reporting grants expense, 2017–2018 to 2019–20

Non-corporate Commonwealth entity

Total grants expense ($million)

Proportion of all NCEs grants expense (%)

Department of Health

23,842

54

Department of Social Services

5864

13

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

4069

9

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

2320

5

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

1307

3

Total

37,402

84a

     

Note a: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Source: ANAO analysis of NCEs’ financial statements between 2017–18 and 2019–20.

Corporate Commonwealth entities

6.6 Of the 22 CCEs reporting grants expense in their financial statements, four accounted for 81 per cent of all CCE grants expense.

Table 6.3: Top four CCEs reporting grants expense, 2017–18 to 2019–20

Corporate Commonwealth Entity

Total grants expense ($million)

Proportion of all CCEs grants expense (%)

Australian Sports Commission

682

29

Australia Council

562

24

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

484

20

National Disability Insurance Agency

210

9

Total

1938

81

     

Source: ANAO analysis of CCEs’ financial statements between 2017–18 and 2019–20.

6.7 For some CCEs, grants expense is a significant proportion of their annual total expenses. Table 6.4 shows the relative contribution of grants expense to total expenses for each of these entities, based on analysis of their 2019–20 financial statements.

Table 6.4: Grants expense versus total expenses by top four CCEs 2019–20

Corporate Commonwealth entity

Total grants expense ($million)

Total entity expenses ($million)

Grants expense as a proportion of total entity expenses (%)

Australia Council

187

211

89

Australian Renewable Energy Agency

184

223

83

Australian Sports Commission

233

381

61

National Disability Insurance Agency

124

19,266

1

       

Source: ANAO analysis of selected CCEs’ financial statements between 2017–18 and 2019–20.

Commonwealth companies

6.8 Of the three Commonwealth companies that reported grants expense in their financial statements, the Australian Sports Foundation Limited (ASF) accounted for 84 per cent. In 2019–20, ASF’s grants expense ($43.3 million) accounted for 93 per cent of its total expenses.

Table 6.5: Grants expense for all Commonwealth companies that reported a grant expense from 2017–18 to 2019–20

Commonwealth Company

Total grants expense ($million)

Proportion of all Commonwealth companies’ grants expense (%)

Australian Sports Foundation Limited

125

84

Creative Partnerships Australia Ltd

18

12

Outback Stores Pty Ltd

6

4

Total

149

100

     

Source: ANAO analysis of Commonwealth companies’ annual reports.

Appendices

Appendix 1 Glossary

Aggregate award

A grant award (see ‘Grant Award’ below) that relates to more than one recipient. GrantConnect does not identify all recipients for an aggregate grant award.

Approval date

The reported date that the decision-maker makes a decision to award a grant. The date is self-reported by entities on GrantConnect.

Grant

An arrangement for the provision of financial assistance by the Commonwealth, or on behalf of the Commonwealth:

  • under which relevant money or other Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) money is to be paid to a grantee other than the Commonwealth; and
  • which is intended to help address one or more of the Australian Government’s policy outcomes while assisting the grantee to achieve its objectives.a

Grant agreement

A grant agreement sets out the relationship between the parties to the agreement, and specifies the details of the grant.

Grant category

A list of grant categories is available in GrantConnect and is customised and maintained by the Department of Finance. Entities select the most appropriate category for each grant award reported.

GrantConnect

The Australian whole-of-government grants information system.

Grant award

Grant Awards (GA) are reported on GrantConnect as the result of a grant being awarded by an Australian Government entity. GA must be published on GrantConnect within 21 days of a grant agreement taking effect.

Grant award start date

A field reported on GrantConnect. The grant award start date is generally taken to be the date the grant agreement is executed. However, if the grant agreement contains a post-execution start date, this may be considered the start date.

Grant award end date

A field reported on GrantConnect. The date that the activity for which a grant was received is expected to be completed. It does not take into account any options, extensions, renewals, or other mechanisms that may be exercised to extend the period of the agreement.

Grant award value

A field reported on GrantConnect. The value in Australian dollars of the grant agreement including GST where applicable.

Grant opportunity

Grant Opportunity (GO) is a collective term to describe any notice published on GrantConnect inviting potential recipients to apply for an Australian government grant. Grant Opportunities may be open or restricted and will reflect the relevant grant selection process specified in the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs).

Grant opportunity identifier (GO ID)

Every grant opportunity is assigned a unique identification number, which can be linked to a grant award.

Publish Date

A field on GrantConnect. The date a grant opportunity or award was published on GrantConnect by the entity responsible for the opportunity or award. For a grant opportunity, this is the date when the opportunity became publicly available.

Opportunity close date

The deadline (date) for submission of a grant application.

   

Note a: Department of Finance, Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, Finance, 2017, page 6. Other CRF money is defined in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Appendix 2 Observations about GrantConnect data

1. Although the ANAO did not verify the completeness and accuracy of GrantConnect data, which is self-reported by entities, the ANAO undertook a general examination of data prior to the analysis. Table A.1 summarises some observations that may be relevant in understanding the extent of analysis that is possible using GrantConnect data.

Table A.1: Data observations

Observation

Description

Approach to data quality issue

One cent grant awards

One grant award published a value of one cent.a No grant awards published a value of zero.

The ANAO analysed grant awards as they are reported in GrantConnect.

Variation to reporting of recipient’s name

As an illustrative example, the Australian Business Number (ABN) ‘57195873179’ received 599 grant awards with 13 variations of recipient’s name reported in GrantConnect:

  • ‘UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES’;
  • ‘The University of New South Wales’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales’;
  • ‘University Of New South Wales’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales (UNSW) McLaughlin’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales (UNSW) Baker’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Tristan Moss’;
  • ‘University of NSW’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Dr Jai Galliott’;
  • ‘University of New South Wales (UNSW) - The Boxwood Scenarios - David Heslop’;
  • ‘House At Pooh Corner b;
  • ‘Kanga’s House Child Care Centre c; and
  • ‘Tigger’s Honeypot.d

The ANAO used the ABN as a unique identifier of a recipient (where available) instead of recipient’s name. Recipients’ names presented in this Information Report correspond to the Australian Business Register.

Blank (or ‘NULL’, or ‘N/A’) values reported

The following GrantConnect data fields had at least one blank, null or ‘N/A’ value:

  • Grant programs (8 awards);
  • Recipient’s ABN (4645 awards) e;
  • Delivery Location Postcode (54314 awards) f;
  • Opportunity Close Date (34 opportunities).g

Where relevant, blank values are counted and noted against the relevant analysis.

Variation to Start date

4848 grant awards in the unfiltered GrantConnect extract recorded one or more variations to the Start Date field.

Grant awards were filtered based on the Start Date field, before variations.

     

Note a: 180 awards were published with a value of $1.10 onto GrantConnect. See paragraph 3.17 for further details.

Note b: A day care centre located on the University of New South Wales campus.

Note c: A day care centre located on the University of New South Wales campus.

Note d: A day care centre located on the University of New South Wales campus.

Note e: 4645 awards did not report a recipient’s ABN onto GrantConnect. 4496 of which had reported ‘Yes’ in the data field ‘ABN Exempt’. The remaining 149 awards are aggregate grants.

Note f: Finance advised the ANAO that where grants may be delivered across a State or Territory, the State or Territory may be specified instead of a postcode.

Note g: 5062 awards were linked to these opportunities.

Source: ANAO analysis of GrantConnect award data.

Footnotes

1 Sources of data used in this report are described in Table 1.2.

2 Department of Finance, Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, Finance, 2017, p. 6.

3 Department of Finance, Flipchart of PGPA Act Commonwealth entities and companies (187) 16 July 2021 [Internet], available from https://www.finance.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-07/Flipchart 16 July 2021.pdf [accessed 3 August 2021].

4 In 2020–21 RMG125 was updated to define a grant (for the purposes of financial statements) as ‘Grants Contributions of government resources (monetary or non-monetary) from a unit of government for specific or general purposes where no direct economic benefit is received in exchange by government.’

5 Where possible and appropriate, different datasets were merged via a common data field or a unique identifier for more in-depth analysis. For example, grant awards may be linked to opportunities to measure the time between the publishing of an opportunity and the award of a corresponding grant; and Australian Business Register and Australian Statistical Geography Standard data was linked to grant award data to identify grant recipient characteristics.

6 Finance advised the ANAO that aggregate awards can be used by entities to provide information on grants when details that identify the recipient cannot be provided (such as grants to individuals, or to recipients for whom the Privacy Act 1988 restricts the information that can be provided).

7 One opportunity can result in multiple awards. Publishing grant opportunities for ad hoc/one off grants are not mandatory.

8 This analysis excludes 149 aggregated awards. These are award notices that relates to multiple recipients.

9 The top grant programs by count of awards for each entity are: Volunteer Grants (DSS), Child Care Services Support (DESE), Stronger Communities Program (DIRTRDC) and ‘Programs to promote Australia’s exports and other international economic interests international freight assistance mechanism’ (Austrade).

10 In March 2018, $8.1 billion was awarded through the Aged Care Services program. May 2020 had the highest number of awards, with the majority awarded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. These grant awards were all linked to one PBS Program: ‘support for the Child Care System’, and were described as follows: ‘The objective of the grant is to keep services viable during a recovery period, so they can remain operational and continue to deliver quality and affordable childcare, so that families can participate in the social and economic life of the community.

11 No grants were reported for the ‘Government and Politics’ grant category.

12 Other potentially relevant terms (such as ‘pandemic’) resulted in the inclusion of grants not related to COVID-19 and were therefore excluded.

13 See paragraph 3.2 for definitions of different selection processes.

14 Department of Finance, Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, Finance, 2017, paragraph 13.11.

15 According to paragraph 13.11 of the CGRGs, ad hoc/one-off grants are usually determined by Ministerial decision.

16 Department of Finance, Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, Finance, 2017, p. 37.

17 The Department of Social Services (DSS) advised the ANAO: “The 180 awards are programs funded on a ‘pay for services provided’ basis. ‘Pay for services provided’ programs are treated differently to other grants that receive their funding up-front in the department’s Grant Payment System (GPS). These programs have a nominal agreement value of $1 or $3 ($1.10 or $3.30 GST inclusive) entered into the GPS when the agreements are established. This process of applying a nominal agreement value of $1 or $3 is in place as an agreement value in GPS cannot be a nil value. At the end of the financial year and/or acquittal period, the agreement value for these providers is updated based on the amount of funding they have received based on services provided. The updating of the figures in GPS constitutes a variation to the activity, however a formal variation to the grant agreement is not required. For reporting purposes in GrantConnect, the amount is then uploaded as a variation to the original Grant Award.”

18 The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advised the ANAO that the terms of NHMRC’s funding agreement and grant award data are public but the full applications for funding, which are schedules to the funding agreement, contain confidential information, such as intellectual property.

19 The analysis in this section excludes aggregate grant awards. See 01 for definition of aggregate grants.

20 Auditor-General Report No.35 2020–21 Implementation of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership and Auditor-General Report No.22 2018–19 Award of a $443.3 Million Grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

21 Awarding a grant and payments made under an awarded grant can occur in different financial years.

22 Department of Finance, Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, Finance, 2017, page 14.

23 Department of Finance, Australian Government Grant News – September 2020 Edition [Internet], available from https://www.finance.gov.au/about-us/newsletters/2020/australian-government-grant-news-september-2020-edition [accessed 15 June 2021].

24 Finance advised the ANAO that entities are only required to link an award to an opportunity GO ID if at the time of publishing the award the entity responds ‘Yes’ to ‘Was the Grant Opportunity published on GrantConnect’. Entities can publish grant awards where the opportunity may have been exempt from publishing as per the exemptions listed in RMG 421.

25 Where the ANAO is referring to time difference between two dates, the arithmetic calculation is based on the second date minus the first date. The result is expressed in days. Where the result is a negative number, the second date occurred prior to the first.

26 Out of 30,297 grant awards with a linked grant opportunity. Note 5062 were excluded from analysis as they did not have an opportunity closing date.

27 Finance advised the ANAO that there are some competitive processes that are ‘batched’ for assessment at set periods, and thus have competitive applications assessed and awarded prior to the closing date.

28 The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme - Primary Health Care Program (PHC Funding Model).

29 It is possible for one organisation to have multiple ABNs (e.g. subsidiaries), or one ABN can be used for multiple organisations with different trading names. Analysis in this chapter will not account for these instances.

30 For each ABN, the Australian Business Register records the type of associated entity (grant recipient). The type describes: ‘The legal or business structure of an organisation. It determines the nature of the organisation’s business as described by the Australian Standard 4590’. Available from: https://www.abr.gov.au/government-agencies/accessing-abr-data/abr-data-dictionary/agency-file [accessed 12 August 2021].

31 Because universities also receive grants through other Australian Government entities, four universities are still within the top 10 recipients by value after ARC grants are excluded.

32 See paragraph 2.9 for a description of ‘grant category’.

33 For location analysis, the ANAO used the postcode where the outcomes were delivered, as recorded in GrantConnect. Data from the ABS Remoteness Structure 2016 was used to inform the mapping of postcodes to remoteness area.

34 The analysis for this section is based on 53,522 grant awards that have a post code mapped to the ABS Remoteness Structure 2016. Of the 108,206 awards that started between 31 December 2017 and 30 June 2021, 54,314 (50 per cent) had no recorded postcode.

35 This analysis has used postcodes where the associated grant outcomes are delivered as recorded by the reporting entity.

36 Some awards have their recipients’ ABNs updated after their award publish date.

37 See Chapter 2 for the definition of a grant according to the CGRGs.