The NSW government is examining the 19 recommendations from a report reviewing the administration of grants in the state.
“Grants are a significant part of the way the Government supports communities and individuals — from COVID responses to sports fields, to flood recovery, to small business assistance — it is an important way we work to deliver outcomes for the people of NSW,” NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said in a statement.
“But all grants are ultimately funded by public money, and so it’s critical we also make sure they are administered fairly, effectively and transparently.”
The report estimates the NSW government spends $4 billion worth of grants each year.
Amongst the recommendations in the report is for a whole-of-government website that would require agencies to publish updates throughout the grant administration process, including the use of ministerial discretion.
“These recommended measures provide safeguards against poor governance and improper process. Importantly, they do not sideline elected representatives from grants administration. Rather, they ensure that ministerial decisions are accompanied by clear, detailed, and timely reasons that are open to public and parliamentary scrutiny,” reads the report.
Other recommendations include an update to the Grants Administration Guide, a Community of Practice made of people experienced with grants administration, and requiring that probity advice is sought when a decision is complex or high risk.
In the preface to the report, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter named trust as one of the most important factors in the relationship between the public and the public sector.
“Grants are an important means of distributing public money to achieve benefits for the community. They should be managed transparently and in the public interest for the common good.
“We hope the recommendations from this review will strengthen the administration of grants and increase trust that grants serve a public purpose,” Coutts-Trotter said.