accountable authority instructions

Instructions issued to manage the affairs of an entity to promote the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of Commonwealth resources.



act of grace payment

A voluntary payment made by the Commonwealth to an individual or other body in special circumstances when a government entity’s conduct or Commonwealth legislation or policy has resulted in an unintended, inequitable, anomalous or otherwise unacceptable result. Act of grace payments must be authorised by the Finance Minister or a delegate under section 65 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). An act of grace payment is used when the obligation to the applicant is moral, rather than legal.

administered items

Items that are usually managed by an entity on behalf of the government. Entities do not have control over these items, which are normally related to activities governed by eligibility rules and conditions established by legislation (for example, grants, subsidies and benefit payments).

annual performance statements

Commonwealth entities report, through their annual performance statements, on the extent to which they have fulfilled the purposes they articulate at the beginning of a reporting year in their corporate plan. They must also report on performance criteria in the Portfolio Budget Statements, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements or other portfolio estimates statements.


Public monies the parliament authorises the Australian Government to withdraw from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for a specified purpose.


The central web-based facility for the publication of Australian Government procurement information, including business opportunities, annual procurement plans and procurement contracts awarded.

Australian Government Information Interoperability Framework

Identifies components that support an environment where information generated and held by government is valued and managed as a national strategic asset. The framework articulates the principles that underpin sound information management and establishes the concepts, practices and tools that will drive the successful sharing of information across government boundaries. Information interoperability is the ability to confidently exchange information across portfolio boundaries.

Australian Government Office Occupancy Report

Covers office accommodation with 500 square metres or more, which is owned or leased by the Commonwealth. The report sets out the occupational density for entities against the current target of 14 square metres of office space per occupied work point.

Australian Government Property Data Collection

Australian Government Property Data Collection (PRODAC) is a central database on the office space leased and owned by the Australian Government.

This information is used to help entities to identify better practices, progressively improve the management and use of office space and inform whole-of-government property policy.

PRODAC collects building, lease and cost information relating to office space leased and owned by the Australian Government.

All Non-corporate Commonwealth entities are in scope of the PRODAC data collection.


Sets out the fiscal and economic outlook for Australia, and includes expenditure and revenue estimates for the current financial year, the budget year, and three forward financial years. It identifies the government’s social and political priorities and how they will be achieved. The Budget is usually announced in May each year.

Budget Process Operational Rules

Standing rules endorsed annually by Cabinet which set out the major administrative and operational arrangements that underlie the management of the Australian Government budget process.

The BPORs also identify the requirements that apply to all new policy proposals and other Budget proposals, including those brought forward for consideration outside of the budget process.

carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e)

One tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent would fill the average-sized three-bedroom house.

career starter

A person who is completing a Year 12 certificate, or equivalent, by the end of the relevant year, or has completed a Year 12 certificate within the last 24 months. 

Central Advertising System

Coordinated procurement arrangement that consolidates government advertising expenditure and buying power to secure optimal media discounts on Commonwealth–wide media rates.

central agencies

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury and the Department of Finance.

Central Budget Management System

The ICT system used to manage the flow of financial information between Finance and Commonwealth entities to facilitate cash and appropriations management, the preparation of budget documentation and financial reporting.

Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998

Provides a legislative framework for the conduct and reporting of fiscal policy, government decisions and Commonwealth financial statements. It aims to improve discipline, transparency and accountability in the conduct of fiscal policy.


An Australian Government agency that provides car-with-driver and other ground transport services to the Prime Minister, the Governor‑General, members of parliament, judges and international guests of government.


The Australian Government’s self-managed general insurance fund.

co-mingled recycling

A process that allows for mixed recyclables to be disposed of in a single container. Recyclable materials include glass, plastic, metal and aluminium cans and containers.

Commonwealth government entity

A department of state of the Commonwealth; a department of the Parliament; an executive agency, or statutory agency, within the meaning of the Public Service Act 1999.

Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines

Establish the Commonwealth grants policy framework. The CGRGs contain the key legislative and policy requirements and explain the better practice principles of grants administration.  They apply to grants administration performed by ministers’ accountable authorities, officials as well as third parties who undertake grants administration on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Procurement Rules

Rules representing the government policy framework under which Commonwealth entities undertake their own procurement in line with both Australia’s international obligations and good practice. They enable agencies to design processes that are robust and transparent and instill confidence in the Australian Government’s procurement.

Commonwealth Property Management Framework

Establishes the principles for the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of property resources and applies to property leased and owned by non-corporate Commonwealth entities.

consolidated financial statements

Statements that present the whole-of-government financial results inclusive of all Australian Government–controlled bodies, including bodies outside the general government sector, such as Australia Post and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Consolidated Revenue Fund

Consists of all revenues and moneys raised or received by the executive government of the Commonwealth. The fund is self-executing in nature, which means that all money received by the Commonwealth automatically forms part of the fund.


A person or organisation providing professional, independent and expert advice or services. Typically the term is used to describe the application of expert skills to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined research, reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist an entity in management decision-making.


Competition in public sector functions to improve both efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of government objectives.

costings or cost estimates

An assessment of the financial impact of a proposed policy change. Commonwealth entities are required to provide costings for any new policy proposals and seek Cabinet endorsement. Finance must agree to these costings before they can be incorporated in a submission for Cabinet.

enhanced Commonwealth performance framework

Meets the obligation under paragraph 5(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) to establish a performance framework across Commonwealth entities. The framework aims to improve the line of sight between what was intended and what was delivered. Corporate plans (and Portfolio Budget Statements) and annual reports (including annual performance statements) are the bookends of the performance framework.

enterprise agreement

An employment agreement made directly between an employer and employees.

Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet

The ministerial committee responsible for examining all proposals against the government’s overall fiscal strategy, advising Cabinet on budget spending priorities and initiating reviews of individual ongoing programs.

Final Budget Outcome

The Final Budget Outcome (FBO) encompasses Australian Government general government sector fiscal outcomes for the financial year and is based on external reporting standards. The Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 requires that a Final Budget Outcome be released no later than three months after the end of the relevant financial year. The financial statements in the Final Budget Outcome are similar to those in the budget but provide actual outcomes rather than estimates

fiscal policy

The government’s approach to taxation and spending, both of which can affect the economy.


Dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means. Accountable authorities of Commonwealth entities must take all reasonable measures to prevent, detect and deal with fraud in accordance with section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

full-time equivalent (FTE)

The average number of effective FTE employees in an entity. Part-time employees are converted to full-time equivalents.

Future Fund

A government fund established for accumulating assets to offset future Australian Government superannuation liabilities.

government business enterprise

A Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth company that is prescribed as a government business enterprise by the rules of the PGPA Act.


An open source web content management and hosting service developed to help agencies create modern, affordable and responsive websites, making it easier to collaborate and innovate. govCMS helps reduce the technology and compliance burden on government agencies. 


The new single point of discovery for information about all Government grants. Individuals and organisations are able to register to receive notifications on grant opportunities relevant to them. Information on grant opportunities is presented to the public in a standard and consistent format.

green brief

A summary of a proposal and the associated financial implications, and Finance and central agency views on a proposal to be considered by the Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet.


The actual number of employees employed by the department.

Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority

Audits and reports on parliamentarian’s work expenses. Provides advice to parliamentarians and their staff on travel and work related expenses to support them in undertaking their duties, requiring that taxpayer funds be spent appropriately and in compliance with the relevant principles and regulations.

Independent Communications Committee

Provides independent advice to accountable authorities of non-corporate Commonwealth entities proposing to conduct information and advertising campaigns where expenditure is expected to be $250,000 or greater.

Indigenous Procurement Policy

A mandatory procurement-connected policy to leverage the Commonwealth’s annual multi-billion procurement spend to drive demand for Indigenous goods and services, stimulate Indigenous economic development and grow the indigenous business sector.
The IPP has three main parts:

  • a target number of contacts that need to be awarded o Indigenous businesses
  • a mandatory set-aside for remote contracts and contracts valued between $80,000 and $200,000
  • minimum Indigenous participation requirements in contracts valued at or above $7.5 million in certain industries.


A policy or decision of the government that affects revenues, expenses or capital.

Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook

Provides an update of the government’s budget estimates by examining expenses and revenues in the year to date, as well as provisions for new decisions taken since the Budget to allow assessment of the government’s fiscal performance against the fiscal strategy statement. The Treasurer is required to publicly release and table in parliament a mid-year economic and fiscal outlook report by the end of January each year, or within six months after the Budget, whichever is later.

National Property Efficiency Program

The program is capitalises on the Commonwealth’s position as a major purchaser of leases and facilities management services in the Australian property market.  It is delivered through two key activities:

  • absorbing entities’ lease requirements, where feasible, into existing vacant office accommodation (Operation Tetris) undertaken in the ACT in 2015-16 and to be rolled out nationally from 2016-17;
  • ensuring that leases and other property services are delivered through coordinated procurements that will maximize the Commonwealth’s substantial purchasing power.

non-ongoing staff member

A person engaged as an employee under subsection 22(2)(b) or (c) of the Public Service Act 1999.

ongoing staff member

A person engaged as an ongoing employee under subsection 22(2)(a) of the Public Service Act 1999.


The government’s objectives in each portfolio area. Outcomes are desired results, impacts or consequences for the Australian community influenced by the actions of the Australian Government. Actual outcomes are the results or impacts actually achieved.

Operation Tetris

Requires government entities to fill vacant leased office space in the Australian Capital Territory rather than to enter into new leases or to renew expiring leases.

performance information

Evidence about performance that is collected and used systematically. It relates to appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency and the extent to which an outcome can be attributed to an intervention.

Portfolio Budget Statements

Statements that inform parliamentarians and the public of the proposed allocation of resources to government outcomes. They also assist the Senate standing committees with their examination of the government’s budget. Portfolio Budget Statements are tabled in parliament on Budget night and published as Budget-related papers.

potable water

Water that is suitable for human consumption.


Encompasses the whole process of acquiring goods and services It begins when a need is identified and a decision made on the procurement requirements. It continues through the process of risk assessment, awarding of a contract and delivery of and payment for the goods and services and, where relevant, the ongoing management of the contract and consideration of disposal.


Actions taken by the government to deliver stated outcomes.

Public Service Modernisation Fund

Identifies and recommends transformation initiatives across government for investment through the Modernisation Fund announced in the 2017–18 Budget that provided $500 million of projected savings to be reinvested in reforms ‘such as automation of public services and business re-engineering’.


In the context of the PGPA Act, purposes include the objectives, functions or role of the entity. Finance’s purposes are described in the 2016–17 Corporate Plan.

red tape

A colloquial term for unnecessary regulation.

resource management framework

Governs how the Commonwealth public sector uses and manages public resources. The PGPA Act is the cornerstone of the framework.

risk management

The systematic application of management through policies, procedures and practices to clearly identify, analyse, evaluate, treat and monitor risks associated with those opportunities. Risk is broadly defined as the effect of uncertainty on objectives or the impacts of unforeseen events or undesirable outcomes.


In the context of the PGPA Act, legislative instruments made by the Finance Minister under sections 101 to 105 of the PGPA Act prescribing matters:

  • required or permitted by the PGPA Act or
  • necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the PGPA Act.

Service Delivery Office

Provides corporate transactions services to other Australian Government agencies. The office is one of six hubs under the Shared and Common Services Program, which is an APS-wide initiative to provide common services across agencies through the development of centres of excellence (hubs). 

Shared and Common Services Program

Delivers standardisation and streamlining of corporate services and business processes across the APS by consolidating the current service provision arrangements into seven public sector service providers by 2019–20.

test labs

Provide Finance staff with the chance to collaborate and be involved in creating innovative approaches to some of Finance’s products, processes, services and strategy.

Last updated: 05 December 2017