The objective of this audit was to determine whether the Grants Program is being administered efficiently by the Australia Council in relation to suitable comparators. To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the following high level criteria were adopted:
How do the costs and other input and output indicators of administering the Grants Program compare against suitable comparable organisations as well as to the Australia Council’s previous approach?
Does the design, implementation and administration of the Grants Program promote the efficient use of resources?
Benchmarking against comparator entities indicates that the Australia Council could be more efficient in administering the Grants Program.
The Australia Council has not established grant administration metrics to support the measurement and benchmarking of its efficiency in administering grant funding—one of the key mechanisms for delivery of its statutory functions—against suitable organisations or its own performance over time. Benchmarking conducted by the ANAO indicates that the efficiency of the Australia Council’s administration of the Grants Program, and its component grants programs, varies across the measures calculated.
Consistent with its legislative obligations, the Australia Council has sought to be efficient in its grants administration although, in the absence of an efficiency baseline, measures and trend analysis, it is not clear if the steps taken have improved efficiency. While some elements of the Australia Council’s approach to grants administration reflected a risk-based approach to improving efficiency, the approach adopted was not supported by a more formal risk assessment. Conducting a risk assessment would assist the Australia Council to better align resources to risk and identify opportunities for greater efficiency.