Guidelines for staff are available for each of the three schemes, but they do not yet provide staff with sufficient information on how to attract proposals, undertake assessments, negotiate agreements and monitor assistance. Some training of staff responsible for assessing proposals, negotiating agreements and monitoring outcomes has been provided, but needs to be enhanced. In particular, The Audit Office believes that there is insufficient guidance for staff in undertaking economic assessment of proposals.
There is a prevailing view amongst Department of State and Regional Development staff that guidelines are just that, and need not be followed. It was apparent, however, that assumptions made in assessments were not always appropriate and may lead to poor decisions. Flexibility need not be impaired by requiring greater adherence to guidelines. This would help ensure minimum standards of process and rigour in all cases.