18. Approving commitments of relevant money

Guide to this section

The accountable authority responsible for relevant money has a duty under section 15 of the Act to promote the proper use of the money (i.e. the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of the money). This duty applies when it approves commitments of relevant money.

If the accountable authority delegates its power to approve commitments of the money to an official, or otherwise authorises an official to exercise that power, the accountable authority still needs to comply with its duty to promote the proper use of the money. Some of the ways it may do this when the official is exercising the power is to impose conditions in the delegation or authorisation, give directions about the exercise of that power, or give instructions to the official about the proper use of that money.

The purpose of this section is to require the accountable authority, or an official, to make a record when the authority or official approves a commitment of relevant money.

It is also to emphasise the following 2 points:

  • If the official is acting under a delegation or authorisation by the accountable authority when approving a commitment of relevant money, the official must exercise the power consistently with the accountable authority’s delegation or authorisation. For example, if the accountable authority specifies conditions in the delegation or authorisation, or gives directions, about the proper use of the money, then the official must comply with those conditions or directions.
  • The official must comply with any instructions (including instructions about proper use of the money) given by the accountable authority.

The official must also comply with his or her duties under sections 25 to 29 of the Act (which are about the general duties of officials) when approving a commitment of relevant money. In particular, sections 25 and 26 of the Act require the official to act with care and diligence, and for a proper purpose, when approving those commitments. (As accountable authorities are also officials, those duties apply to them too when approving commitments of relevant money.)

This section is made for section 52 of the Act.

(1) If:

(a) the accountable authority of a Commonwealth entity is approving the commitment of relevant money for which the accountable authority is responsible; or

(b) an official of a Commonwealth entity is approving the commitment of relevant money for which the accountable authority of a Commonwealth entity is responsible;

then the accountable authority or official must record the approval in writing as soon as practicable after giving it.

Note: The accountable authority referred to in paragraph (b) may be the accountable authority of the same Commonwealth entity as the official or it may be the accountable authority of a different Commonwealth entity.

(2) To avoid doubt, the official must approve the commitment, and record the approval, consistently with any written requirements (including any requirements relating to the proper use of that money and spending limits) specified by the accountable authority referred to in paragraph (1)(b) in:

(a) if the official is acting under a delegation or authorisation of the accountable authority:

(i) the instrument that delegates to the official, or otherwise authorises the official to exercise, the accountable authority’s power to approve the commitment of relevant money; or

(ii) a direction to the official in relation to the exercise of that power; or

(b) instructions given by the accountable authority.

Last updated: 13 January 2016