In June 2018, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment paid a $443.3 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (the foundation). To be delivered over six years, the objective of the ‘Reef Trust Partnership’ (RTP or the partnership) grant is to ‘achieve significant, measureable improvement in the health of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area’.
The objective of the audit was to examine whether the design and early delivery of the Australian Government’s $443.3 million partnership with the foundation has been effective.
To form a conclusion against the objective, the following high level criteria were adopted:
- Has the grant funding been appropriately invested by the foundation since the commencement of the partnership?
- How successful has the foundation been in using the grant to attract co-investment?
- Is an appropriate approach being taken to the delivery of the partnership, including through subcontractors?
- Is the amount being spend on administration and fundraising costs under control?
- The design and early delivery of the Australian Government’s $443.3 million partnership with the foundation has been partially effective.
- The $443.3 million Australian Government grant has been appropriately invested. The majority of the funds have been held in various term deposits with six banks, with 81 per cent of the grant amount still in term deposits as at 31 December 2020.
- The foundation’s use of grants and procurements is an appropriate approach to delivering the partnership. While competitive selection processes have been employed most of the time when awarding grant funding, there has been insufficient use of open and competitive approaches for procurements.