Reviewing existing Commonwealth bodies

The governance policy can also be used to review whether a body’s governance arrangements remain fit-for-purpose, in particular, flowcharts 1 and 2 can be used to assist the review process.

Because the economic, legal, social and political context changes over time, bodies that are not subject to sunsetting should be periodically reviewed to assess whether they are achieving or failing against their original charter and whether their scope and intended purpose remain valid.

The governance policy requires that all new bodies must be allocated a sunset or review date. As a matter of better practice, a review or sunset date could also be set for existing bodies. The date for the review or sunsetting should be based on the purpose of the organisation and when key milestones are likely to be met. Sunset and review dates should not be more than 10 years after the body’s establishment or last review, and it should generally not be more than five years for a body established to address short-term to medium-term policy issues.

Example: Since 2012, section 50 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 External link has imposed a
10-year limit on all legislative instruments. This may sunset bodies that are established under regulations, although there are exceptions detailed in the section.

Departments of State do not need sunset or review dates as their ongoing existence is determined as part of the Administrative Arrangements Order process.

Portfolio departments are, however, responsible for coordinating reviews of bodies in their own portfolio. The resources used and the frequency of reviews should be commensurate with the size of the body. For instance, bodies that employ more than 500 people, and that are not subject to sunsetting and do not have a review date, should be reviewed at least every 10 years. Other bodies could be reviewed every five years.

Although stand-alone reviews may be conducted, existing review processes, such as contestability and functional reviews, may be useful catalysts.

Contact for information on this page: GovernancePolicy@finance.gov.au

Last updated: 18 December 2015