It's a basic principle of democracy that elected officials, not bureaucrats, make important decisions -- including how to spend taxpayer money. They're the ones accountable to the electorate, not public servants.
The Great Rort / Politics
How to rort-proof grant programs: delete politicians
The persistence of grant rorting suggests politicians can't be trusted with administering grants programs. Bureaucrats aren't perfect, but won't pork-barrel and misuse taxpayer money.