Since it commenced in 2003, the Regional Partnerships Programme has come under considerable scrutiny. In this audit report the ANAO concludes that the program's administration was not always seen to be transparent, accountable or equitable and that it fell short of an acceptable standard of public administration.
The Regional Partnerships Programme is a very flexible discretionary grants programme. It has broadly based assessment criteria, and projects are subject to continuous assessment rather than being considered through structured funding rounds. Funding decisions are taken by Ministers.
In this audit report the ANAO concludes that:
The flexibility in the application assessment and Ministerial approval processes creates challenges in ensuring transparent, accountable and cost-effective administration and in demonstrating the equitable treatment of applicants;
and the manner in which the Programme had been administered over the three year period to 30 June 2006 examined by ANAO had fallen short of an acceptable standard of public administration, particularly in respect to theassessment of grant applications and the management of Funding Agreements.