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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Independent review of the Australian Greenhouse Office

Hon. Warwick L. Smith LLB, June 2002

4. AGO activities and performance

4.1 Policy and program achievements

This section provides an overview of AGO performance. This review looks at the achievements of the Office overall, and will not be examining individual programs in detail.

Since its inception, the AGO has approved grant funding of over $317 million, with almost two-thirds of that occurring in 2000-01 (Table 2; output groups are described in Figure 2). The table shows the steady growth in program funding approval in the early years of the office, with a substantial growth in 2000-01 as the Measures for a Better Environment (MBE) suite of programs came on line and capacity to deliver funding programs grew. The decline in the 2001-02 grant approvals probably reflects some of the earlier programs reaching near full allocation, and a slowing in the take up of programs under the MBE package.

Table 2: AGO grants approved, by year and output group, April 1998-June 2001
Source: 1997-98 to 2000-01: AGO Annual Reports; 2002-02: AGO
  Value of Grants Approved# ($'000)
Output Group 1997-98* 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02**
Leading the Agenda   361# 2,335.3 91,174.0 48,704.3
Taking Early Action   157# 614.2 4.5 568.0
Promoting Sustainable Energy   15,902 17,821.5 119,502.7 5,504.1
Enhancing the Land   0# 250.0 0.0 20.0
Staying on Track   2,848# 3,661.4 3,539.5 3,659.5
TOTAL 3,076# 19,268 24,682.4 214,220.7 58,455.9
* From 24 April–30 June 1998
** Year to 28 May 2002
# 1997–98 and some 1998–99 figures are for actual grant expenditure, rather than value of grants approved

Table 2 figures reflect the amount of funds approved, not actual grant funds provided to project proponents. The actual funds expended, by major funding program categories, is shown in Table 3 and Figures 3 and 4 (detailed figures per program are at Appendix B). This shows that the overall amount of funding the AGO has provided to project proponents is steadily increasing. A significant proportion of the funds provided through the Prime Minister's 1997 funding package and in the 1999-2000 budget have been expended (74 and 84 per cent respectively), with expenditure remaining relatively steady for each of these packages over the past three years. Funds paid under the MBE package is increasing substantially each year, however, in total only nearly 11% of the MBE funding has been provided to project proponents to date.

Table 3: AGO Expenditure by major program categories, 1998-99 to 2001-02
Source: AGO
Expenditure $m
Total Value of Program
% Spent to Date
PM's 1997 Package
1999-00 Budget Measures
Measures for a Better Environment
* estimated expenditure
Figure 3: AGO Total Program Expenditure, 1998-99 to 2001-02

Figure 3: AGO Total Program Expenditure, 1998-99 to 2001-02
Source: AGO figures

Figure 4: AGO Expenditure of Major Funding Programs, 1998-99 to 2001-02

Figure 4: AGO Expenditure of Major Funding Programs, 1998-99 to 2001-02
Source: AGO figures

Grant expenditure depends in part on the efficiency of AGO procedures (grant assessment and approval and contract development and management), but also on the capacity of grant recipients to take up funding opportunities and implement the activities. Slower than forecast delivery and take up of AGO programs, particularly those under the Measures for a Better Environment package, has meant that the AGO has had significant budget underspends (eg $150.5 million in 2000-01). This outcome likely reflects as much an overambitious suite of programs as any serious inefficiency in program delivery on behalf of the AGO.

Underspends not withstanding, the AGO is delivering on programs and has a number of initiatives that are well regarded by government and stakeholders. The outcomes of some programs such as the Greenhouse Challenge were outlined in Section 2.3.

Detailed reporting on the performance of the AGO is included in its Annual Report. In addition to the AGO's program delivery outputs, it has also contributed to the national and international greenhouse policy agenda and has had a substantial role in increasing community awareness of greenhouse issues.

4.2 January 2000 review of operations and programs

In late 1999, KPMG Consulting was engaged to review the operations and programs of the AGO, looking in particular at:

Efficiency and effectiveness issues were assessed in terms of policy and program coordination, program management and internal management and reporting.

Broad findings of the review included:

The recommendations made by KPMG Consulting ranged from quite broad directions that gave the AGO considerable flexibility in determining the most appropriate means for their implementation, to the quite specific. A number of the recommendations have been implemented - eg the suggestion that the AGO could be established as and executive agency.

A number of the issues raised and the conclusions made in the 1999 review seem to still be valid, or at least the perceptions still exist, in 2002. This suggests that some of the higher level strategic issues still remain to be effectively addressed by the AGO. Even if these reflect perceptions rather than reality, such perceptions impact on how stakeholders interact with the AGO and, consequently, on how the AGO can operate and the outcomes it can achieve. These issues are explored in more depth in Section 6.