Audit queries how $20b health fund planned

·1-min read

The federal health department has agreed to make changes after an audit report found a $20 billion research fund did not have adequate performance measures.

The auditor-general also found it was "not clear" how the 10-year plan behind the Medical Research Future Fund was designed.

"There is no direct relationship between the initiatives in the 10-year plan and the MRFF strategy and MRFF priorities and it is not clear how the 10-year plan was designed," the audit report released on Thursday said.

One of the initiatives in the plan - research data infrastructure - had no money spent on it and some of the priorities were "generic".

The fund, managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians, was set up by the coalition government in 2015.

Since then it has provided 670 grants with a total project value of $1.8 billion.

The audit concluded the health department's management of financial assistance under the fund is "largely effective".

But it had not actively consulted with state and territory governments on the implementation of the program.

The department had suitable arrangements in place to provide assurance that grant applications are assessed on their merit and represent value for money.

However, it did not have adequate performance measures and had "not effectively measured and reported on the performance of MRFF financial assistance in its annual performance statements".

The department agreed to three recommendations relating to the 10-year plan, grant reporting and performance measurement.

"Since its inception in 2015 the MRFF has grown rapidly to become a central pillar of the Australian government's commitment to health and medical research," the department said.

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