25 September 2023

Auditor pays out on research grants

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A performance audit on the effectiveness of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) administration of the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) for research projects has found that while its administration is effective, its follow up processes are poor.

In his report, Australian Research Council’s Administration of the National Competitive Grants Program, Auditor-General, Grant Hehir said many of the key performance indicators (KPIs) used by the ARC to evaluate projects, while relevant, were not necessarily reliable.

“The ARC’s administration of the NCGP is effective, except that its performance indicators and monitoring and assurance arrangements should be strengthened,” Mr Hehir said.

“Most of the ARC’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are relevant, but not all are reliable.”

In his conclusion, Mr Hehir said the ARC had mature and effective processes in place to assess grants, manage conflicts of interest and provide funding recommendations that complied with the NCGP guidelines.

He said the ARC’s assurance arrangements could be more risk-based to provide greater assurance administering organisations complied with grant agreement requirements and that the program was achieving its objectives.

He made three recommendations, all of which were agreed by the ARC.

The Auditor-General’s online report can be accessed at this PS News link and his 62-page document tabled in Parliament can be accessed at this link.

The audit team was Brendan Gaudry, Michael Commens, Alana Tolman, Lynette Tyrrell, Mary Huang and Deborah Jackson.

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