This paper is the first of two focusing on resource allocation policy and practice in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). The current approach to the distribution of funds is examined here, while CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 42 examines the potential relevance and implications of fiscal equalisation for ATSIC's future funding policy and practice.
A review of ATSIC's current financial structure and powers forms the context for a wider consideration of the financial relationships evolving between the organisation's structural elements. In the complex budgetary process, ATSIC's existing functionally-based program structure is linked to legally specified funding roles. The budgetary procedures and related program framework are critically examined. The role of regional councils and regional planning are discussed and the implications of financial tensions emerging between councils are raised. The emerging relationship between ATSIC's Board of Commissioners, administrative arm and regional councils is posed as crucial, as is that between the newly-formed State Advisory Committees and councils. The paper considers the implications for ATSIC's current funding role of its representative regional structure, its program structure and emerging pressures towards decentralisation, arguing that ATSIC is in need of an integrated, holistic funding policy and procedures which link regional planning and service needs to national decisions about resource distribution.
ISBN: 0 7315 1715 6