Disaster recovery funding for states set to hit $6.5b

A report has raised some concerns about the administration of Commonwealth’s administration of its disaster recovery grants program, as payments are expected to more than double over the next three years.

Auditor-General Grant Hehir

A report by the national audit office reveals that the federal government provided the states and territories with $3.1 billion via its Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) between July 2018 and July 2022.

“The Australian Government estimates $6.5 billion will be paid to state and territory governments through the DRFA from 2022–23 to 2025–26,” the report says.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is currently responsible for administering the program, which provides funds via the states and territories to councils, small businesses, not for profits and individuals to help rebuild following a natural disaster.

Assistance is provided across four categories, including one which can be used by local governments to restore public assets and carry out disaster recovery operations.

Better monitoring and reporting needed

Auditor General Grant Hehir found administration of the DRFA has been ‘largely effective’, but the government hasn’t effectively monitored or reported on the program’s performance.

“The agencies (responsible for the program) did not have appropriate arrangements to monitor and report on their performance in administering the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements,” the report says.

“The NRRA’s 2021–22 performance measures did not appropriately incorporate DRFA activities or outcomes.

“Effective monitoring and reporting on the implementation of DRFA related reviews and recommendations does not occur as appropriate governance, planning and assurance arrangements for these activities were not established.”

The report says that NEMA should establish targets, monitoring and reporting for the time required to complete the assurance and acquittal processes.

It also recommends that the agency should establish monitoring and reporting arrangements showing performance against the DRFA’s principles.

In its response to the report, NEMA notes the Auditor-General made no adverse findings in relation to the way in the DRFA is administered.

However, it accepted there were some areas that could be improved, and it supported all the report’s recommendations.

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