This audit assessed the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), the achievement of its intended outcomes and whether the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources (the department) has applied the lessons learned from the RGF to the planning and implementation of the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund (RJIF).
Weaknesses in the design and implementation of the RGF mean that the department cannot fully demonstrate that value for money and the goals and objectives of the RGF have all been achieved to date. These weaknesses include a lack of transparency in pre-application processes and fundamental flaws in performance evaluation and reporting.
Regional Development Victoria (RDV) has not effectively monitored and reported on all the outcomes of the RGF. The reported outcomes of jobs and investment leveraged are potentially misleading as they inflate the actual achievements of the RGF. Reported job numbers primarily relate to expected, rather than actual jobs created. Consequently, reported RGF figures do not provide an accurate picture of actual achievements.
Going forward, the department is applying the lessons learned to the design and implementation of the new RJIF including a stronger evaluation framework. However, given RJIF's recent implementation, it is too early to determine the effectiveness of these improvements.