In 2020–21, Victorian councils distributed more than $45 million in grants to individuals, businesses and community groups. It is important that councils have effective controls for their grant programs to prevent fraud and give their communities confidence that public money is spent as intended.
The audit examined Hume City Council, Knox City Council, Loddon Shire Council, Southern Grampians Shire Council, Warrnambool City Council and West Wimmera Shire Council. The Victorian Auditor-General looked at a selection of their grant programs from the last 5 years to see if their fraud controls are well-designed and consistently applied.
- Councils' fraud controls for their grant programs are not always well designed and operating as intended. In some cases, they are missing.
- Councils are not consistently identifying conflicts of interest, assessing applications against criteria, documenting their decisions, checking how funds are used or evaluating their grant programs' outcomes.
- This unnecessarily increases the risk of fraud and makes it harder for the audited councils to show that their grant programs are transparent, equitable and benefit the community.