An audit of the design of the partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is included in the ANAO’s annual audit work program. The ANAO expects to conduct an audit of the design of the partnership later in 2018–19, as the grant agreement includes key program design milestones for the foundation to meet in the period between 31 August and 24 December 2018.

There has been Parliamentary and public interest in the processes that led to the decision to offer a $443.3 million grant to the foundation. This interest was reflected in requests to the Auditor-General from the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee and the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy that priority be given to a performance audit of the partnership. Accordingly, the objective of this audit is to assess whether the award of a $443.3 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation was informed by appropriate departmental advice and sound processes that complied with the grants administration framework.

Audit criteria

To form a conclusion against the objective, the ANAO proposes to examine the following criteria:

  1. Was appropriate departmental advice provided to ministers to inform the decision to establish a tied partnership fund with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation?
  2. Were comprehensive program guidelines developed that complied with the requirements of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines?
  3. Was the decision to award a grant to the foundation informed by written departmental advice that met the content requirements of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines?
  4. Was there appropriate scrutiny of the foundation’s proposal to inform departmental advice on whether a grant should be awarded, and the subsequent development of a grant agreement?