Media release 3rd August 2021.

Australia’s system of administering grants is broken and needs systemic reform, according to new research by the Centre for Public Integrity.

The research finds that 100% of grant programs audited by the ANAO since 2019 were found to be flawed, with problems identified ranging from minor areas for improvement to serious maladministration.

These flawed programs have already distributed more than $5.5 billion of public money, and have the capacity to distribute around $10 billion.

The research recommends an overhaul of grant oversight, beginning with 3 critical reforms:

1.        Grant approval criteria, including merit selection criteria and program guidelines, be set out in primary legislation.

2.       Departments be required to table in Parliament documentation pertaining to grant administration at specific points of the grant making process, including at tender, selection and delivery.

3.       A joint standing committee be established in order to oversee grant administration and report to the Parliament.

“Public money should be spent in the public interest, not for the political interests of the party in power,” said Anthony Whealy QC, Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“Billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is being spent through flawed grant programs. Ministers have too much control, Departments aren’t following proper processes, and pork barrelling is allowed to continue,”

 “It is high time that checks and balances are put in place, so that Ministers are answerable to Parliament in the spending of public money,” said Mr Whealy.

Read our briefing paper here.