List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

The Committee notes the recent regulatory changes to require that all grant programs run by corporate and non-corporate Commonwealth entities be administered in accordance with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017, and recommends that the Department of Finance review the operation of the guidelines and associated regulations two years after the tabling of this report to ensure they remain efficient and effective.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance, in consultation with the Australian National Audit Office, revise its Resource Management Guides to:
Provide a single consolidated authoritative guide to grants administration in the Australian Government for all corporate and non-corporate Commonwealth entities, including a focus on best practice models and principles;
Provide detailed information in relation to legislative requirements of administering officials, practical advice and best practice examples; and
Provide clear guidance where advice is either mandatory or optional in administering grants programs.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance review the established reporting and compliance system and approach to improve assurance that Commonwealth grant program guidelines are adhered to at all points of grant administration for all applicable entities and decision makers. The Department of Finance should report to the Committee on the outcome of this review within six months of the tabling of this report.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance review the official record-keeping requirements of the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017 with a view to addressing probity issues, including a requirement for all parties involved in grant administration to disclose and record any conflicts of interest. Further, changes should be made to ensure records are kept of the reasoning for decisions of a relevant Minister(s) to approve or reject grant applications and recommendations, including ministerial panels. This is particularly important where a Minister approves a grant that a relevant official/entity has recommended be rejected or assessed as ineligible.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017 be amended to:
emphasise the importance of ensuring that all relevant entities involved in grants administration receive and complete sufficient training, with documented processes to ensure the ongoing quality assurance of assessments;
ensure the timely announcement and communication to stakeholders of grant opportunities and outcomes of grant programs. This should provide for greater consistency in the timing of announcements and notifications, and the provision of appropriate feedback to applicants;
include an eighth key principle for grants administration of “Adherence to published guidelines”. This would uphold the expectations of the Parliament and other stakeholders and provide transparency to applicants when published criteria is amended.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that Sport Australia review its guidelines in relation to all current and future grants programs to clarify:
The authority, duty and role of the Minister for Sport; and
The authority, duty and role of the Australian Sports Commission Board in relation to decision-making, and that Sport Australia report back to the Committee in six months.

 |  Contents  |