Case studies

Case study 1

A senior officer at a Commonwealth department had used the same desk for the last 20 years of a long career. Upon her retirement the delegate of the relevant accountable authority decided it would be appropriate (and within the scope of the Finance Minister’s delegation) to gift the desk to them on the basis of its historical and symbolic significance to the senior officer. Before arriving at this decision the delegate obtained a reasonable estimate of the market value of the desk. 

As the Directions, specified in the PGPA Delegation, refer to the ‘relevant property in question’ it is not enough that property generally of the nature of the property in question is of historical or symbolic significance to the proposed recipient or holds other special significance for the proposed recipient. In other words if a particular decorative sword is of symbolic significance to a proposed recipient it does not mean that all decorative swords are of symbolic significance to a proposed recipient.

Case study 2

Marie as head of her branch was given a sculpture by a foreign government in recognition of the work her branch had undertaken with their counterparts in the foreign government to establish a high level agreement. As received, the sculpture would be relevant property that the accountable authority of the entity is responsible for. Upon Marie’s retirement the delegate of the relevant accountable authority decided it would be appropriate to gift the sculpture to her on the basis of its special significance to her and that it is genuinely surplus to the entity’s requirements. Before deciding that it would be appropriate to gift the sculpture to Marie the delegate obtained a reasonable estimate of the market value. The reasonable market value was determined to be less than $100.

Case study 3

The delegate of an accountable authority decided it would be appropriate to gift a handful of computer towers to a local charity that supports disabled people. The decision was made on the basis that they were uneconomical to dispose of, they were of low value (according to an estimate of market value they were each worth less than $100) and supporting charities supported the achievement of an Australian Government policy objective.

Before making the gift the delegate considered whether making the gift would create an onerous or undesirable precedent by creating an expectation that charities (or particular charities) would be gifted surplus IT equipment. The delegate determined that this gift would not create that kind of precedent as it was made clear to the charity that there should be no expectation of future gifts.

As ‘low value’ is not defined in the Directions it is at the reasonable discretion of the accountable authority to determine. The delegate’s exercise of that discretion should be publicly defensible and in line with public expectations.

The Directions that accompany the Finance Minister’s delegation of power under section 66 of the PGPA Act provide:

  • In all cases when contemplating making a gift the delegate needs to consider whether making a gift in a particular case would create an onerous or undesirable precedent. If the gift would create that precedent then the delegate should refuse to make the gift.
  • In all cases when contemplating making a gift the delegate would need to be satisfied that there are publicly defensible and objective grounds to justify favouring the person or organisation with the gift, ahead of other potential recipients.
  • In all cases a delegate must not approve a gift before obtaining a reasonable estimate of the market value of the relevant property proposed to be gifted. If this is not possible, the delegate must use their discretion in assigning a notional value, and must record the basis for determining the value of the property.

Section 67 of the PGPA Act provides that an official of a non-corporate Commonwealth entity is liable to pay the value of the relevant property if the official makes a gift of relevant property in contravention of section 66.


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