Efficiency grants not
A grants program conducted by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) to help businesses and community organisations make decisions about energy efficiency has failed the Audit Office’s test of best practice.
so efficient: Audit
In his report, Design and Implementation of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program, Auditor-General Ian McPhee found the Department had strayed from its published guidelines for considering the grants despite going to lengths to make the guidelines “robust”.
“Notwithstanding the good work undertaken by the Department to establish the program, there were significant shortcomings in the conduct of the assessment process for applications,” Mr McPhee said.
“In particular, the merit assessment process departed in important respects from that outlined in the program guidelines, and inadequate records were made and retained.”
He said DCCEE was well-resourced to design and implement the EEIG, and the design of the program was effective, while the Department also planned a sound approach to undertaking application eligibility checks.
“Nevertheless, it is not possible to be satisfied that the most meritorious eligible applications (in terms of the published merit criteria) were recommended,” he said.
“The shortcomings in the implementation of the program have also meant that DCCEE was unable to provide unsuccessful applicants with feedback against the merit criteria.”
Mr McPhee said a major factor cited by DCCEE for the departures from the documented assessment approach was that the number of applications received was much greater than had been planned for.
“In this context, it is common for competitive, applications-based grant programs to be over-subscribed,” he said.
“However, DCCEE had not developed strategies for how it would respond to receiving significantly more applications that it anticipated.
“There had been a high level of interest in the program prior to applications opening, which should have foreshadowed to DCCEE an increased likelihood that the program would be over-subscribed to a significant extent.”
The Auditor-General made four recommendations in his report, all of which DCCEE agreed to.
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team comprised Michael Shiel, Heather Rae and Brian Boyd.
Edition 346F, 1 February 2013