Te Puni Kōkiri: Administration of grant programmes

Performance audits from 2007: Follow-up report.

Our audit of Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development) was the third in a planned series of performance audits (starting in 2003) of grant programmes managed by public entities. These audits aim to provide assurance to Parliament that grant programmes are administered appropriately, with public funding allocated as intended by the Government.

Te Puni Kōkiri is the Government’s principal advisor on Māori issues. Its main functions are:

  • advising on government policy affecting Māori well-being;
  • monitoring how Māori communities are affected by government services; and
  • administering funding programmes for community development.

Te Puni Kōkiri’s grant and funding programmes are part of how it enables Māori to succeed as Māori, and supporting Māori communities, strategies, structures, projects, and enterprises.

The scope of our audit

Our audit focused on the effectiveness and efficiency of Te Puni Kōkiri’s systems and processes for administering its grant programmes. Our sample was taken from grants and projects in five programmes dating between 1 July 2004 and 30 June 2006. Specifically, we looked at whether:

  • there were sound and appropriate policies and procedures in place to ensure that grants aligned with programme policy objectives;
  • these policies and procedures were being complied with;
  • there was appropriate monitoring of grants as they were paid; and
  • there were appropriate frameworks for evaluating the grant programmes.

Our findings

Although Te Puni Kōkiri had some good systems for administering its programmes, improvements to several areas could be made. For example, there was often not enough information to assess funding proposals to the extent required by Te Puni Kōkiri’s own guidelines. Contracts were often signed late in the financial year, but funding for many of these grants was paid early in the contract. This made it hard for Te Puni Kōkiri to manage the delivery of its objectives.

There was little documented evidence that Te Puni Kōkiri monitored progress towards objectives, and little evidence that it reviewed actual expenditure.

We made 16 recommendations to Te Puni Kōkiri for improving its grants administration, including better monitoring the progress of funded projects, and better evaluating how well funded projects delivered what they set out to achieve.

The response to our findings and recommendations

Te Puni Kōkiri accepted and agreed to carry out all our recommendations. After we briefed Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee, it held a hearing with Te Puni Kōkiri where the Chief Executive gave assurances that the issues highlighted in our report were being fixed. The report’s release was widely covered by the media.

We follow up on Te Puni Kōkiri’s progress at regular relationship meetings with the Chief Executive and second tier managers responsible for grant funding and contract management.

Since we released our performance audit report, Te Puni Kōkiri’s contract management has significantly improved. Our financial auditors noted the following actions taken to strengthen grants administration when we audited Te Puni Kōkiri in 2006/07 and 2007/08:

  • establishing a contracts unit to address contracting and policy issues;
  • putting in place a redesigned contract management system (Smartfund) that includes a centralised concept and proposal process;
  • employing contracts advisors in regional offices to scrutinise contract monitoring and compliance with Te Puni Kōkiri’s Operations Manual;
  • updating the Operations Manual to reflect public sector good practices and standards;
  • moving away from paying substantial amounts of money upfront to providers;
  • aligning contract payments to deliverables and the work’s physical progress; and
  • introducing a centralised approval process for all significant contracts.

While our 2006/07 annual financial audit identified a few areas for improvement, our 2007/08 audit identified no new contract management issues. However, we will continue focusing on contract management during future annual audits, and will continue to monitor the changes and improvements that Te Puni Kōkiri puts in place.

<< previous | next >>

page top