Once you have established a project need, you will need to gain funding and approval to commence the project. This page sets out the key funding approvals for externally funded and high-value-high-risk (HVHR) projects. This page should be read alongside our guidance on approvals processes.
External funded projects or programs are typically approved through the annual government budgetary process via the Expenditure Review Sub-Committee (ERSC) of cabinet, with specific approvals required from the Treasurer for HVHR projects. The Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery (OTCD) will then typically provide approval for the release of funding for the project through its capital works funding agreement (CWFA).
Externally funded HVHR projects are subject to separate approvals under the DTF HVHR . If you are conducting a project that meets the HVHR requirements and doesn’t require external funding, you may wish to follow the HVHR guidelines to gain access to DTF guidance and elect to participate in the gateway review and assurance . Guidance on the process for gaining approval for HVHR projects that do not require external funding is outlined below.
For Capital projects
The OTCD, in partnership with the TAFE network, has developed a TAFE Network Asset Strategy.
The Asset Strategy seeks to support a more coordinated approach to asset planning and delivery across the TAFE system and forms a key pillar of the OTCD’s reform agenda .It supports Government’s vision for TAFE to be a quality benchmark for the training system by identifying and prioritising investment opportunities across the TAFE network, and will be the primary framework to guide future TAFE asset investment decisions.
The Strategy is informed by demography, industry and workforce skills need, LGA planning schemes, transport networks, enrolment forecasts, locational information and asset base information.
TAFEs are encouraged to consult early with the OTCD to confirm their project is a network priority and to gain its support.
Sources of external funding
If the project requires external funding, you may wish to seek funding via the annual government budgetary process, or potentially as part of a program of funding to be allocated within the TAFE sector.
Government budget processes
The following may aid the understanding of typical processes and potential timing requirements, from both the TAFE's and the OTCD's perspective, when seeking external funding through the Victorian government’s annualised budgetary process. Please note that this process varies from year to year, so you should confirm timing and specific requirements with your OTCD representative.
Government budget processes – TAFE perspective
Government budget processes – OTCD perspective
Following approval and announcement of project funding in the May budget announcement, the OTCD will discuss and agree upon a capital works funding agreement (CWFA) under which the project will be delivered.
Aligning the project to government processes
As outlined in the timeline above, departments start their funding submission to the ERSC and DTF/DPC in September prior to the May budget announcement.
To ensure that the project is eligible to receive funding, you will need to ensure the OTCD has sufficient time to review (and where appropriate provide guidance on the development of) the funding submission. For large complex projects (that require significant planning and design to inform project definition and costing), this may mean commencing business case development 12-18 months prior to OTCD’s December submission to ERSC and DTF/DPC. Early consultation with the OTCD will also ensure that the project is in line with government objectives, increasing its chance of a successful funding outcome. Generally, the TAFE’s asset management plan will also be reviewed by the OTCD to confirm that the project is a TAFE and OTCD priority. This could be undertaken as part of the process to confirm the project is a priority prior to developing an initial case for investment.
Other sources of government funding
Sometimes governments may allocate a program of funding set aside for TAFE projects such as the Greener Government Buildings . To access these allocations of funds, you will need to submit a funding submission to the OTCD. Unlike gaining funding through annual budget processes, there is no standard timeline for gaining access to funding through these allocations – so it is important to look out for and be aware of any upcoming funding opportunities that may be relevant to the TAFE and its projects.
For externally funded non-HVHR projects, you will need to seek both internal and external approval to undertake the project. The process will vary depending on the project governance structure and associated approvals process, but may involve the following steps:
1. Develop an initial case for investment once the project has been recognised as an organisational priority.
2. Investigate the project's merits: You may need to seek funding and/or approval from the TAFE board to further investigate the merit of the project prior to proceeding to develop a business case. Unlike HVHR projects, the project may only require a preliminary business case. If you require funding to engage specialised consultants to assist with the drafting of the business case, this should also be applied for and approved at this point. Alternatively, internal funding allocated for the purpose of engaging consultants may be used.
3. Seek Business Case approval: As you are seeking external funding for the project, the TAFE board, the OTCD, the Minister for Training and Skills and possibly other government departments and bodies, will need to approve the business case. It is important to plan the submission of the business case to coincide with government funding timeframes.
Liaise with your OTCD representative as soon as possible to help ensure the project is best placed for consideration and inclusion in the department’s early prioritisation list and the business case is aligned to current government priorities.
This early consideration can occur in April and May during discussion of the TAFE’s asset management plans with the OTCD; with its support for you to continue developing a detailed business case in May and June for submission to DET in October for review, before it is finalised in December.
It is recommended you plan to seek preliminary board approvals from May or June in the year prior to the annual budget process, before submitting preliminary documentation to the OTCD. This documentation will likely require regular updates to support approval of the draft submission in October and final approvals and submission in December.
For more complex projects (i.e. projects that require significant project definition and design specification), the business case may require 12-18 months to prepare, prior to its submission, typically in December, during the normal government budgeting cycle. These may require a full business .
Once the business case has been approved, you will need to wait for the funding to become available, which is usually in line with federal and state budget key dates as well as the agreement with the OTCD around the release of funds under the capital works funding agreement (CWFA).
The process will vary depending on project governance structure and associated approvals process but may involve the following steps:
1. Develop an initial case for investment: Once the project has been recognised as an organisational priority, you should develop an initial case for investment and seek funding from the TAFE board to further investigate the merit of the project progressing through to the development of a preliminary business case. If you require funding to engage specialised consultants to assist with the drafting of the business case, this should also be applied for and approved at this point. You may also wish to follow the HVHR guidelines to gain access to DTF guidance and elect to participate in the gateway review and assurance .
2. Gate 2 review:Following a HVHR gateway of the preliminary business case, (if elected), you can request participation in the Gate 2 review process for the full business , prior to its finalization and internal approval. The full business case will need the TAFE board's approval.
3. Funding confirmation: Once all parties have approved the project and your TAFE board has allocated funding, you should formally confirm with the finance department that the funds are available to be released.
Externally funded HVHR projects will need funding and from DTF and the Treasurer. The process may vary depending on the project governance structure and associated approvals process, but will likely involve the following steps:
1. Develop an initial case for investment:Once the project has been recognised as an organisational priority, you should develop an initial case for investment and seek funding from the TAFE board to further investigate the merit of the project prior to developing a preliminary business case. Include funding required to engage specialised consultants to assist with the drafting of the business case. Alternatively, internal funding allocated for the purpose of engaging consultants may be used. Board approval should be sought around May or June to ensure sufficient time to consult with the OTCD to confirm the project is in line with departmental priorities – increasing the chance of success.
2. Develop a preliminary business case:The OTCD and DTF will provide guidance on the development of the preliminary business case prior to participation in the gateway review process (see below). The full business case will require separate endorsement of both the OTCD and the Treasurer, prior to submission for final project approval and funding confirmation at the Expenditure Review Sub-Committee of Cabinet (ERSC). It is important to plan the business case submission to coincide with government funding timeframes. A HVHR project is likely complex and may require substantial project definition and design specification to support business case development. It may be appropriate to commence preparation (such as the appointment of specialists to support the development of the functional requirements and associated spatial requirements) 12-18 months prior to final business case submission in December (for the typical Victorian government budgetary cycle).
3. HVHR gateway review:You will be required to participate in the HVHR gateway review . This involves a review of the preliminary business case (Gate 1), and full business case (Gate 2), prior to the consideration of the business case at ERSC. You should aim to have the Gate 2 review process complete by October to allow sufficient time to address any identified additional requirements prior to submission to government in December. The full business will need to be approved by the TAFE board, DTF and the Treasurer, prior to submission to ERSC.
4. Funding availability confirmation:Once the business case has been approved, you will need to wait for the funding to become available, the timing of which will usually align with federal and state budget key dates as well as the agreement with the OTCD around the release of funds under the capital works funding agreement (CWFA).
Reviewed 22 March 2023