This audit would examine the design of the Building Better Regions Fund program, development of the program guidelines, the award of grant funding, and evaluation of each round, as well as arrangements for the overall evaluation of the program against its objectives.

The $841.6 million Building Better Regions Fund is a competitive grants program that was established in 2016 to drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities. Three rounds have been completed, with 832 grants worth $643.3 million reported as having been awarded across those three rounds. Applications for the $200 million fourth round, which was for projects that would benefit communities in drought-affected communities, closed on 19 December 2019. Two streams of funding have been available in each round (infrastructure projects and community investments). Separate program guidelines for each funding stream were issued under each funding round. The guidelines included eligibility requirements (including the project’s geographic location being in a ‘regional’ area), co-funding requirements and weighted merit assessment criteria. The guidelines have also set out the staged decision-making process for the award of grant funding.