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Networking the Nation was established with effect from 1 July 1997 to support activities and projects designed to meet a range of telecommunications needs in regional, rural and remote Australia. Funding is provided by the Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund. The program provides total support of $250 million, of which $50 million was to be allocated annually for the five year period from 1997-98. Funding decisions for grants are the responsibility of an independent Board appointed by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. The objectives of the audit were to examine the administration of the program with a view to ascertaining the scope for improving administration and to provide assurance on the equity, efficiency and effectiveness of the management and administrative processes applied in the administration of grants under the program.
The primary objective of the audit was to assess whether the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) and the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) were administering a number of grant programs that are designed to enhance telecommunications infrastructure and services in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia according to better practice. The audit was also aimed at determining whether DCITA had implemented the recommendations of an earlier audit of Networking the Nation.
Recent performance audit priority for the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government portfolio has been directed at the administration of funding for land transport. Accordingly, this audit is one of a series ANAO is undertaking of land transport funding programs. Four audits have already been completed, namely:
ANAO Audit Report No. 31 2005–06, Roads to Recovery;
ANAO Audit Report No. 45 2006–07, The National Black Spot Program;
ANAO Audit Report No. 22 2007–08, Administration of Grants to the Australian Rail Track Corporation; and
ANAO Audit Report No. 29 2008–09, Delivery of Projects on the AusLink National Network.