Auditor-General highlights deficiencies in regional growth fund

VICTORIA’S Auditor-General has highlighted deficiencies in the administration of a key growth fund for regional Victoria. 

In a 40-page report tabled in the Victorian parliament yesterday, Auditor-General Des Pearson said the $100 million Provincial Victoria Growth Fund launched in 2005 had been subject to inadequate processes and poor management. 

Then Premier Steve Bracks and Treasurer John Brumby created the fund to include $78.36 million for specific programs in communities including Ballarat and a further $21.64 million for emerging issues. 

The report found that while the Regional Development Victoria authority undertook wide-ranging planning of activities to develop the fund’s plan, “deficiencies meant that RDV could not demonstrate that the fund was soundly based.”

The report found the fund’s activities lacked adequate business plans and assessment criteria were not applied consistently to all funding decisions. 

“The monitoring and reporting systems and processes for initiatives and programs under PVGF were generally sound,” the report said. 

It found little supporting evidence to document how the $21.64 million was distributed, and legally required documents remain missing or have been destroyed. 

“However, these focused on outputs rather than outcomes. RDV had effective arrangements in place to manage grant programs and to disburse funding to grant recipients.” 

Deputy premier and regional development minister Peter Ryan said the Auditor-General’s report “revealed a catalogue of mismanagement”.

“The report details accounts of crucial documents that went “missing” as well as a failure to require business cases for projects involving massive taxpayer-funded grants,” Mr Ryan said in a statement.


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