act of grace payment

A discretionary power provided under section 33 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) to make payments in special circumstances, generally when the Australian Government considers it has a moral rather than legal obligation to provide redress to an individual or other entity. The payments relate to losses directly caused by the acts or omissions of the government, or caused by the unintended, unfair or anomalous effect of its legislation.

administered items

Revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities that the executive government controls, but which an agency or authority manages on behalf of the government.


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

Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

A forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia–Pacific region.

Australian Government Architecture

A framework that assists in the delivery of consistent and cohesive service to citizens and supports the cost-effective delivery of ICT services by government by:

  • providing a common language for agencies involved in the delivery of cross-agency services
  • supporting the identification of duplicate, re-usable and sharable services
  • providing a basis for the objective review of ICT investment by government
  • enabling more cost-effective and timely delivery of ICT services through a repository of standards, principles and templates.

Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015

The plan complements the government’s current policies, guidelines and infrastructure in relation to climate change and improved environmental performance. It reinforces agency obligations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Policy, e-Government strategy and other greening of government initiatives. It also takes into account other relevant government and industry initiatives relating to product stewardship, in particular the National Packaging Covenant and the National Waste Policy.

Australian Political Exchange Council

An organisation that develops young Australian political leaders through opportunities to gain insights into the political systems and cultures of countries where exchange programs have been established.

Australian workplace agreement

An individual written agreement between an employer and employee about the terms and conditions of employment, made under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 up until 13 February 2008.


A process for establishing the validity of, and confidence in, the claimed identity of a person or entity.

Better Government

The government’s Better Government agenda covers a range of activities to improve delivery of government services, policies and programs and upgrade the public management framework generally.


Procedures intended to protect humans, animals and natural resources, including the food supply, from disease or harmful biological agents, including pests and unwanted organisms.


The Australian Government Budget 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.

Business Advisory Forum to the Council of Australian Governments

A forum chaired by the prime minister and attended by premiers and chief ministers, business chief executives, and representatives of Australia’s peak business organisations with the common goal of working together to improve national productivity growth to boost the prosperity of all Australians.

CeBIT Australia 2012

Australia’s premier public sector technology summit where individuals, companies and governments meet to discuss, promote and share ideas about how technology is changing the way services are delivered across the globe.

Central Budget Management System

The system that is used to manage the flow of financial information between Finance and Australian Government agencies to facilitate agency cash and appropriation management, the preparation of budget documentation and financial reporting.
Chief Executive’s Instructions Instructions issued to manage the affairs of an agency in a way that promotes the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of Commonwealth resources.
cloud computing Internet-based computing, including word processing, spread sheets and emails, where applications and programs are installed in a ‘cloud’ on the internet rather on a computer hard drive.
collective agreement An agreement about employment conditions between an employer and a group of employees.
COMCAR The Commonwealth car-with-driver service.
Comcover The Australian Government’s self-managed general insurance fund.
comingled recycling A process that allows for mixed recyclables to be disposed of in a single container. Recyclable materials include glass, plastics, metals and aluminium cans and containers.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting A meeting of Commonwealth of nations leaders held every two years. The Commonwealth of nations is a voluntary association of independent states.
Commonwealth Financial Accountability Review The purpose of the review is to analyse the Commonwealth financial framework from first principles and consider options to ensure the framework supports high-quality resource management. The review is an important part of the Australian Government’s Better Government agenda.
Commonwealth parliament offices Offices that provide state-based parliamentary office accommodation for ministers, opposition office holders and leaders of minority parties and provide temporary office and meeting facilities for visiting senators and members. Senators may also choose to establish their electorate office within a Commonwealth parliamentary office. 
Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines Guidelines that are issued by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation under regulation 7(1) of the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations. They establish the core procurement policy framework and articulate the government's expectations for all FMA Act agencies and their officials when performing duties related to procurement.
Commonwealth Property Management Framework Establishes the principles for the efficient, effective, sustainable and ethical use of property resources and applies to property leased or owned by FMA Act agencies.
ComSuper The agency that provides superannuation administration services to the boards of trustees responsible for the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme, the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme, the Public Sector Superannuation Accumulation Plan, the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme.
consolidated financial statements Statements that present the whole-of-government financial results inclusive of all Australian Government–controlled entities, including entities outside the general government sector, such as Australia Post and the Reserve Bank of Australia. 
consultancy services Services delivered under a contract for services, distinguished by the nature of the work performed. A consultant is an entity providing professional, independent and expert advice or services. Typically the term is used to describe the application of expert professional 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 agency in management decision-making. 

The application of information and communications technology—particularly the internet—to enable better service delivery and better administration by government.

enterprise agreement An employment agreement made directly between an employer and a group of employees.
e-security Information security for the internet and intranet.
ethanol blended fuel (E10) A blended fuel consisting of 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent unleaded petrol.
Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet The major ministerial committee responsible for examining all expenditure proposals against the government’s overall fiscal strategy, advising Cabinet on budget spending priorities and initiating reviews of expenditure under individual ongoing programs.
Expenditure Review Taskforce A taskforce for identifying savings or opportunities to improve the overall quality of government program delivery. 
fair market value An estimate of the market value or price of a property that a willing buyer and seller can agree on in an arm’s-length transaction where neither one is compelled to buy or to sell.
financial framework Underpins the appropriation, expenditure and use of money and resources within the Australian Government. It is an important feature of an accountable and transparent public sector.
full-time equivalent (FTE) Defined as the average number of effective FTE employees in a department or agency. 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.
gateway review process A project assurance methodology that involves short, intensive reviews at critical points in the project's life cycle by a team independent reviewers. This provides an arm's-length assessment of the project against its specified objectives and an early identification of areas requiring corrective action.
Global Reporting Initiative indicator Used in sustainability reporting to indicate, among other things, economic and environmental performance and energy consumption.
government business enterprise A Commonwealth authority or Commonwealth company prescribed as a government business enterprise in section 4 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Regulations 1997.
Government 2.0 The use of technology to encourage a more open and transparent form of government where the public has a greater role in forming policy and has improved access to government information.
green brief Summarises key information and provides Finance’s perspective on new policy and savings proposals. It is printed on green paper.
gross domestic product (GDP) The market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.
headcount The actual number of employees employed by the department.
hydro-pulping A process allowing used paper to be completely recycled, unlike other methods where a product cannot be completely recycled and where the range of recycled by-products is limited.
Independent Communications Committee A committee appointed to provide advice to FMA Act agencies in relation to proposed advertising campaigns valued at more than $250,000.
management expense ratio A ratio expressing the management expenses of a fund or asset as a proportion of, or divided by, the net asset value of the fund or asset.
memorandum of understanding A contract-like document used between two parts of the Australian Government, which cannot enter into a contractual arrangement because they are the same legal entity; or two governments, such as the federal and state government; or as unenforceable (political) agreements.
Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook The Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 requires the Treasurer 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.
Moorebank Project Office An office established within Finance to progress the planning and approvals phase of the Intermodal Terminal Precinct in Moorebank, Sydney.

National Broadband Network (NBN)

First national wholesale-only, open access communications network being built to bring high-speed broadband and telephone services within the reach of all Australian premises. The NBN will use three technologies: fibre, fixed wireless and satellite. Under the plan, every home, school and workplace in Australia will have access to the NBN within the next decade.
National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy An agreement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories to facilitate the implementation and reward the delivery of reforms that assist in the creation of a seamless national economy.
nation-building funds Collective term for the Building Australia Fund, the Education Investment Fund and the Health and Hospitals Fund. These funds finance the government’s commitment to invest in critical areas of infrastructure such as transport, communications, energy, water, education, research and health.
non-ongoing staff member A person engaged as an APS employee under subsection 22(2)(b) or 22(2)(c) of the Public Service Act 1999.
ongoing staff member A person engaged as an ongoing APS employee under subsection 22(2)(a) of the Public Service Act 1999. 
outcome 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.
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.
person conducting a business or undertaking As defined under section 5 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Broadly speaking, it expands the duty of care for work health and safety to all persons, including organisations that are legal entities, who conduct a business or undertaking.
Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements Statements that inform senators, members and the public of changes since the budget to the proposed allocation of resources to government outcomes.
Portfolio Budget Statements Statements that explain how moneys included in the appropriation bills (budget bills) are to be spent.
potable water Drinking water.
programs Actions taken by government to deliver stated outcomes.
reasonable adjustment policy A commitment to make the work environment accessible and inclusive, allowing people with disability to participate fully in all aspects of employment.
Remuneration Tribunal The independent statutory body that handles the remuneration of key Commonwealth officers.
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.
Risk Management Standard ANZ ISO31000:2009 The Australian, New Zealand and international risk management standard that outlines principles and guidelines for developing risk management frameworks and programs.
royal assent The final stage of making legislation when the royal seal of approval is formally given by the Governor-General on behalf of the Queen and a bill becomes an act of parliament.
State of the Service Report A report prepared by the Public Service Commissioner on the state of the APS during the year. The report draws on a range of information sources, including a survey sent to all Australian Public Service agencies employing 20 or more staff under the Public Service Act 1999.
tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent  (CO2-e) One tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent would fill the average-sized three-bedroom house.