The Local Government FAST program, announced in the 2016-17 Victorian Government budget, is delivered in three streams by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
Stream One – expert financial support
Stream One provides specialist accounting and finance advice and support to rural councils on a project-by-project basis.
This advisory and support facility is provided by members of the FAST panel, an expert panel of suppliers. The grant program is not competitive; it will respond to identified needs.
Example of projects already funded under Stream One:
- Long term financial planning
- Asset management assistance
- Modernising chart of accounts
- Decentralised procurement framework
- Review of asset renewal demand
The members of the FAST Panel are:
- AFS & Associates
- CT Management
- Ernst & Young
- Grant Thornton
- HLB Mann Judd
- Impact Consulting Group
- Mach 2 Consulting
- T G Matthews
- WHK Horwath
Stream Two – grants program
Stream Two of the FAST program provides grants that allow rural and regional councils to explore opportunities for shared services and collaborative procurement that are more financially sustainable or improve services.
Funding is awarded through a competitive process. This stream doesn’t fund implementation of proposals: the grants are to develop a business case or feasibility study. The study or business case should include proposed key performance measures formalise the agreement of participating councils, and enable shared learnings.
Joint proposals from groups of rural and regional councils that meet the funding criteria will be funded up to $75,000 to develop a business case or feasibility study. The group is to match 50 per cent of the total project budget by in-kind services or financial contribution. Projects are expected to be completed within a 12 month period.
Funding will support business cases or feasibility studies expected to lead to councils investing in project implementation themselves, without additional government support. Proposed business cases or feasibility studies should be fully costed, and include the expected benefits and measurement criteria to support collaboration.
Download details of the funding criteria:
Round One Applications
Applications for Round 1 grants are now closed.
Seven projects were approved for funding. A brief summary of each project is included below.
Accounts Payable Model – Wangaratta Rural City Council (lead council)
Wangaratta leads the Campaspe, Mitchell and Wodonga councils in a project which received a $37,500 FAST grant to investigate the feasibility of the Accounts Payable function being delivered via a shared services platform. By assessing Accounts Payable in the first instance the participating councils are of the view that it will clear the way for other technology based activities to be delivered in the same way.
Developing Shared Services in Wimmera Councils – Horsham Rural City Council (lead council)
Horsham Rural City, Hindmarsh Shire, Northern Grampians Shire, West Wimmera Shire and Yarriambiack Shire have received a $75,000 FAST grant to investigate more ways to work together to create efficiencies across council borders. The five Wimmera Councils will undertake a business case development with the key objective to improve sustainability through shared services, collaborative procurement and capacity building. The study will also examine operating models that improve staff retention and career paths in areas of technical expertise.
Shared Finance Solutions – Technology and Workforce – Alpine Shire Council (lead council)
Alpine and Towong Shires have been allocated $75,000 to assess the feasibility of a cloud based finance and accounting platform across the two councils. The project will develop a comprehensive business case identifying the costs, opportunities and benefits to both Shires through a shared finance platform.
Shared Service Delivery of Core Enterprise Resource Planning Systems – Corangamite Shire Council (lead council)
Corangamite Shire, Moyne Shire and the City of Warrnambool have received a $75,000 FAST grant to investigate the efficiencies and benefits available from a common information technology platform serving these councils. The three councils will use the funds to develop a feasibility study to integrate core Information Technology and Communication (ICT) functions into a shared service model with the long term objective of delivering corporate services more efficiently through innovative technology.
Statutory Shared Services Business Model – Indigo Shire Council (lead council)
Indigo Shire, Alpine Shire, Benalla Rural City, Mansfield Shire, Moira Shire, Towong Shire, Wangaratta Rural City and Wodonga Rural City have received a $56,250 FAST grant to develop a business case for a shared service delivery model that reduces the cost and improves the service quality of specific statutory functions for each of the eight local governments. This will in turn enhance employment and career opportunities across the region. Specifically, the business case will evaluate the benefits across environmental health services, a regional planning service and building services process alignment and workforce resilience.
Technology for the Future – Towong Shire Council (lead council)
A FAST grant of $42,000 has been allocated to the Towong and Indigo Shire Councils to investigate best practice technology in rates and property accounting systems. These councils have successfully operated under a shared services arrangement but now seek further enhancements in service delivery through improved technology. The funding will deliver a fully costed business case which could be applied to other councils in the future.
Workforce Planning Framework – Wangaratta Rural City Council (lead council)
Wangaratta heads a group of six councils, Alpine, Indigo, Loddon, Mansfield and Murrindindi Shires, which received $75,000 to develop a workplace planning framework. This project will provide an overarching framework that can be implemented across each of these councils and ultimately across the Victorian local government sector.
Round Two Applications
No applications were approved for funding under this round.
Round Three Applications
Shared Platform for Shared Services and Resources - Buloke Shire Council (lead council)
Buloke Shire Council and Loddon Shire Council have commenced procurement of a shared corporate system. The system will cover core services of both councils, and will need to be supported by consistent functionality, service area structure, resourcing and processing requirements. Both councils are undertaking business process mapping of financial management as a joint exercise in order to support potential future shared services and resources in this area.
Business case for development of a new Visitor Servicing Model - Corangamite Shire Council
The six councils of the Great Ocean Road region (Corangamite Shire Council, Colac Otway Shire Council, Surf Coast Shire Council, Warrnambool City Council, Moyne Shire Council, Glenelg Shire Council) are assessing the feasibility of a regional model for visitor servicing. The business case will explore governance options, operational models and strategic planning, including identification of location, format, function and operation of visitor centres and alternate delivery mechanisms. The six councils within the GOR region collectively provide nine accredited and four non-accredited visitor information centres supported by a digital platform providing ten websites, print and marketing campaigns.
Round Four Applications
Applications for Round 4 grants are now open.
The closing date for Round 4 applications is 30 April 2018.
Subject to confidential aspects, councils are expected to share anything learned from streams one and two, including any improved practices.
Stream Three – research and development
Based on the learnings from Streams One and Two, and analysis and research by Local Government Victoria, Stream Three aims to develop and revise policy in local government finance. The products of this stream will include better practice guidance documents and practice notes tailored for the whole local government sector.
The suite of better practice guidance materials is available at Sector guidance: planning and reporting.
For further information regarding the program or to discuss a possible proposal please contact:
Senior Project Officer - Innovation and Collaboration
Local Government Victoria
03 9948 8582
Finance and Business Analyst
Local Government Victoria
03 9948 8531