REGIONAL Development Minister Simon Crean last week welcomed the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the round one rollout of the Australian Government's $1 billion Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF).
The fund, which is a nationally competitive, merit-based grants program that aims to support Australia's regional areas, has currently awarded nearly $350 million in program funding to 81 projects across Australia after two application rounds. There more funding rounds are proposed.
The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport's management of the design and implementation of the first application round of the RDAF program, which awarded funding of $149.65 million.
Overall, the ANAO said the Department's management of the design and implementation of the first RDAF funding round was effective.
However, recognising that further RDAF funding rounds are proposed, the ANAO made three recommendations to improve key elements of the Department's application assessment and approval processes.
The recommendations include that the Department:
- Adopt a numerical rating scale for the merit assessment stage of future funding rounds;
- Clearly outline whether each application represents value for money in the context of the published program guidelines and program objectives; and
- Improve the documentation provided to the Minister.
Mr Crean said the ANAO report confirmed the design and implementation of RDAF was effective and said the three recommendations will further enhance the program in future rounds.
"The Federal Government agrees with the three recommendations, and I have asked my Department to implement the recommendations in future RDAF rounds," Mr Crean said.
The audit report, 'The Design and Conduct of the First Application Round for the Regional Development Australia Fund', is available from the Australian National Audit Office website at <http://www.anao.gov.au/>.