The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office has just released its review in to the outcomes of investing in regional Victoria.
Link: Link to Online Dashboard
Regional Victoria is home to strong communities and plays a significant role in Victoria’s economy; however, it faces challenges compared with metropolitan Melbourne, including slow or negative economic growth in some areas. Successive governments have focused on improving economic and social outcomes in regional Victoria through significant programs and grants. As a result, Regional Development Victoria (RDV)—now part of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions—has administered over $1 billion in grants since 2011 to improve regional outcomes.
This audit looked at the effectiveness of those grant programs in supporting regional Victoria, including whether RDV could demonstrate that it has improved outcomes in regional Victoria, and the quality of RDV’s delivery of these important government programs.
The Auditor-General made seven recommendations to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions focused on improving its management and evaluation of its regional grant funds and public transparency of allocated grants.
Having administered more than $1 billion in allocated funds since 2011, RDV still cannot reliably determine whether its grants have improved economic or social outcomes.
Though RDV has improved its management of RJIF compared to previous funds, several issues still hamper its successful management.
While RDV has improved its internal reporting, a significant risk remains that it will be unable to evaluate the fund’s effectiveness due to gaps in its evaluation framework and data collection.
RDV cannot show it has managed the fund efficiently because it is unable to show it has met the state’s benchmark of 5 per cent of RJIF’s funds on its administration.
RDV struggles to assess grants promptly, in part because it has not adopted a risk-based approach to grant assessment.
RDV currently does not publish a comprehensive list of the grants awarded or complete information about how it assesses applications.