26 September 2023

New Government grants guide open for granted

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The Department of Premier and Cabinet and the NSW Productivity Commissioner have made a series of recommendations to improve the administration of Government grants and delivered an updated Good Practice Guide to Grants Administration.

Releasing their review report Review of grants administration in NSW, the Department and Commissioner Peter Achterstraat said they were tasked with reviewing the administration of grants to ensure they delivered value for public money, were robust in their planning and design, delivered a high-quality customer experience, and adopted key principles of transparency, accountability and probity.

“The Final Report makes recommendations to deliver value for public money by ensuring that the administration, assessment, and assurance of grants programs in NSW is in line with best practice,” the Department and Commissioner said.

“The Review makes 19 recommendations to bring grants administration into line with best practice.”

They said that in addition to feedback from 26 stakeholder groups, the Review considered grants administration guidelines from comparable jurisdictions, best practice risk assessment and assurance frameworks, and the existing NSW policy and legislative context.

The Department and Commissioner said the draft Good Practice Guide to Grants Administration (included in the Report) provided principles-based guidance and included mandatory requirements for officials, Ministers, and ministerial staff.

“The Review recommends that the Guide be issued as a Premier’s Memorandum and that compliance with the Guide is a legislative requirement,” they said.

“Among other things, the draft Guide provides robust decision making frameworks to ensure the accountability of those involved in grants administration.

“The Guide’s implementation will foster a culture of ‘ownership’ that is important for the integrity of grants processes.”

The Review also recommended that Agencies identify and task relevant officials with providing support and advice to grant administrators on the design and implementation of grants.

The Department and Commissioner recommended a whole-of-government website be set up that made up-to-date information on grants available to the public.

“The Review recommends that Agencies be required to publish end-to-end information on all grant programs, including open and upcoming opportunities, details of grants awarded, the use of ministerial discretion, and program evaluations,” they said.

“These recommended measures provide safeguards against poor governance and improper process.”

They said the recommended measures did not sideline elected representatives from grants administration, “rather, they ensure that ministerial decisions are accompanied by clear, detailed, and timely reasons that are open to public and parliamentary scrutiny.”

The 123-page Review Report, including the draft Guide, can be accessed at this PS News link.

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