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Ministers' Office Handbook

Ministers' Office Budgets

Funding and Expenditure

Ministers’ office budgets are drawn from DPC’s annual financial allocation to cover employee related expenses, accommodation and other operating expenses. It is expected that all Ministers’ offices will run according to budget and manage within budget limits. The following rules apply:

  • Within the total funding envelope for Ministers’ offices, changes in Ministers’ office budget allocations need to be approved by the Premier or the Premier’s Chief of Staff as authorised by the Premier.
  • Savings from Ministers’ office budgets cannot be carried forward to later financial years.
  • Expenditure from Ministers’ office budgets must be approved by a financial delegate operating in accordance with the Premier’s delegations and complying with the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.
  • Each Minister’s office is a separate cost centre for financial management purposes, and expenses need to be coded and recorded correctly in the finance system.
  • Ministers’ office budgets are intended to fund official business expenses of Ministers and their staff and these budgets must not be supplemented with external alternative funding.

Expenditure Classifications

The following guidance is provided to assist Ministers’ staff in assigning expenses to the appropriate source of funding.

Source of FundingPurpose
Minister’s office budget Minister’s office expenses
Funding for parliamentary duties Minister’s performance of parliamentary duties
Portfolio agency budgets Agency functions

Financial Delegations

The following general financial delegations have been issued to Ministers’ staff.

Job TitleFinancial Limit (including GST)Conditions
Premier’s Chief of Staff $25,000 Premier’s office activities only
Premier’s Deputy Chief of Staff $25,000 Premier’s office activities only
Premier’s Executive Officer $10,000 Premier’s office activities only
Minister’s Chief of Staff $5,000 Minister’s office activities only
Minister’s Executive Officer $2,000 Minister’s office activities only
Do:Do Not:
  1. Familiarise yourself with the delegations.
  2. Keep a copy of the delegations handy for easy reference.
  3. Know your own delegation limits.
  4. Exercise the delegation only for the purpose for which is has been given.
  5. Exercise delegations in accordance with policies and directions issued by the Premier, or delegate.
  6. Check carefully any documents/orders you sign as a delegate to ensure compliance with relevant policies and procedures.
  7. If you are relieving in another job, you may exercise the delegations for that job.
  8. Before approving expenditure, ensure that your job title appears in the Financial Delegations.
  1. Approve any expenditure where it relates to a purchase for you (e.g. your own business travel arrangements).
  2. Approve matters where you do not have any responsibility.
  3. Approve matters that might require special consideration of a higher delegate.
  4. Sign without checking that you have the required level of delegation.
  5. Exercise delegations where the matter creates, or could be perceived to create, a conflict of interest.
  6. Exercise delegations unless your job title appears in the Financial Delegations.
  7. Approve any matter that is not specifically included in your delegations (i.e. do not attempt a "best fit"), with such approval to be sought from an appropriate delegate.

Purchasing Goods and Services

The NSW Government policy on purchasing goods and services provides that:

  • Purchases must be made from suppliers under period contracts established by the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, where available.
  • For goods and services where period contracts have not been established, the conditions of the NSW Procurement Board’s General Purchasing Delegation must be observed.

Budget Management

CMS provides the following services:

  • Monthly finance reports, showing current month and year-­to-­date actual expenditure to budget per reporting category
  • Year-­to-­date actual expenditure transaction reports (showing line items)
  • Forecast report for the current financial year by month with actual monthly expenditure to date
  • Certifications that staffing proposals are within budget
  • Financial systems support
  • Monitoring expenditure against budget

Verification of Expenditure

CMS Finance and Procurement provides each Minister’s office with a detailed expenditure transaction report together with the monthly finance report.

Ministers’ offices need to verify that expenses allocated to their cost centre were incurred by them.

Any issues should be referred back to CMS Finance and Procurement for investigation.

Expenditure Records

GovConnectNSW maintains records of expenditure for accounting and audit purposes, and Ministers’ offices do not need to keep duplicate copies of expenditure approvals lodged with GovConnectNSW.

Finance Practices

Credit Cards

NSW Government-­issued Credit Cards

NSW Government-issued credit cards must only be used for official overseas business trips and official business purposes. NSW Government-issued credit cards for official business trips overseas will be held with government contract bankers and used within credit limits imposed.

Ministers’ offices may arrange short-term credit cards with CMS Finance and Procurement prior to official business trips overseas (ideally CMS Finance and Procurement should be given 10 business days’ notice of the requirement for a new card).  Each staff member travelling with the Minister may request a card.  These cards must be returned to CMS Finance and Procurement at the completion of the trip.

Upon receipt of the credit card statement, credit card holders need to complete a credit card reconciliation and send it to CMS Finance and Procurement.

Private Credit Cards

While Ministers and their staff must not use NSW Government-issued credit cards within Australia, they may use their private credit card for any official business expense in Australia or overseas.  Reimbursement of such expenses needs to be supported by expenditure records and receipts.

Ministers and their staff may wish to obtain a private credit card exclusively for official business expenses.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)

FBT is a tax paid by the employer in respect of a fringe benefit “paid” to an employee, but in a form different from salary or wages.

FBT is payable on the following benefits:

  • Hospitality benefits received by staff, unless the staff meet their own expenses.  Food and beverages consumed at official functions or in the Parliament House dining room are examples of hospitality that attract FBT liability.  Certification of accounts needs to include the number of staff attending such functions to assist in calculating FBT liability
  • The use of drivers and vehicles for private trips
  • Car parking spaces provided for staff
  • Study fees paid in circumstances where the fees would not have been a tax deduction if paid by the employee
  • Home security installations and monitoring services for Ministers’ private residences.

FBT is not payable on the costs of mobile phones provided for Ministers and former office holders primarily for business purposes.

Any FBT queries should be referred to CMS.

Reportable Fringe Benefits

Each year the Parliament requests advice on Ministers’ reportable fringe benefits for inclusion on Ministers’ payment summaries (group certificates) as the Parliament’s finance service provides payroll services for Ministers.  Where the taxable value of a Minister’s individual fringe benefit amount:

  • Is $2,000 or less, the Parliament is not required to report an amount on the Minister’s payment summary.

  • Exceeds $2,000, the grossed-up value of that amount (calculated in accordance with an ATO formula) must be shown on the Minister’s payment summary.  Fringe benefits provided in the period 1 April (Year 1) to 31 March (Year 2) are included on the payment summary for the income year ending 30 June (Year 2).

Reportable fringe benefits for Ministers include the use of Ministers’ official vehicles and drivers for private purposes and expenditure on transport, accommodation, meals and incidentals for Ministers’ spouses, or approved relative or carer, accompanying Ministers in the course of official duties (see Spouse, Approved Relative or Carer in SECTION 3 for more details).

The amount of reportable fringe benefits shown on a payment summary is not included in the Minister’s assessable income, but is included in a number of income tests relating to the following Commonwealth Government benefits and obligations:

  • Child support payments
  • Higher education learning program (HELP) repayments
  • Medicare levy surcharge
  • Personal superannuation deductions
  • Rebate for personal superannuation contributions
  • Rebate for contributions to a spouse’s superannuation.
Professional  Advice

If Ministers and their staff are interested in the effect of reportable fringe benefits for their private circumstance they may wish to seek professional advice.

Use of Taxis for Business Purposes

Taxis are an option for business trips, including trips:

  • Home after evening duty (e.g., when Parliament is sitting, when required to perform the duties of the job, etc.), where public transport is not reasonably available or where it may be unsafe to use public transport.  Generally use of taxis for these purposes would occur after 8:00pm.
  • To or from the airport in connection with early morning or late night flights on official trips.
  • To meetings when it would be unsafe or uneconomical to use public transport.

Taxi fares may be paid by any means available to Ministers’ staff and acceptable to the service provider.  For convenience, payments may be made using Cabcharge TAXI eTICKETs, which may be obtained from GovConnect.  Cabcharge FASTCARDs are not to be provided for Ministers’ staff without prior consultation with the Executive Director, CMS and the approval of the Premier’s Chief of Staff.

Mobile Telephones

Ministers and their staff may use mobile telephones for business and private purposes.

Under the current mobile plans all local and Australia-wide calls to land lines/mobiles and texts are included in the plan. Premium service calls, international calls and global roaming services are outside of the plan and still chargeable based on the principles below.

Ministers’ staff mobile phone charges are paid from the Minister’s office budget with the exception of the items listed below, which need to be paid as a private expense:

  • Personal international calls from within Australia
  • Personal travel related global roaming charges
  • Personal premium number service calls

Any personal calls which are outside the plan need to be declared and paid for monthly. Declarations are not required otherwise.

Mobile Applications

CMS ICT will create an AppleID to register iPhone and iPad devices and to enable the download of business related mobile applications (Apps) e.g., newspaper applications.

Staff may create a personal AppleID to download private music and Apps using their name. Instructions are at: https://appleid.apple.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/MyAppleId.woa/.

  • A credit card may be required to facilitate the downloading of applications and staff need to use their private credit card. NSW Government-­issued credit cards must not be used to create an AppleID or similar accounts.
  • Instructions on creating an AppleID without a credit card are at: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2534

Staff must not use work-supplied mobile devices to subscribe to and access fee-based mobile services that are for private purposes only.  Examples are Premium telephone services (like 1900 numbers), on-line games and phone-activated acquisitions like coke vending machines.

Global Roaming

Access to global roaming is switched off as the default setting on all mobile services.  Staff requiring access for official business purposes need to advise CMS ICT to enable activation.  The roaming services available are international mobile phone calls (voice services) and international email and internet access (data services).  Once switched on, voice services continue until switched off.  Data services are provided on a month-by-month basis.

Parliament House Account

As Members of Parliament, Ministers have credit facilities extended to them for dining and hospitality at Parliament House.  The facilities may be used for business or private purposes. Expenditure incurred for:

  • Ministers’ business purposes (i.e., related to duties as a Minister) is paid from the Minister’s office budget.
  • Other purposes (i.e., as a Member of Parliament rather than for duties as a Minister) is paid by the Minister as a private expense and must not be paid from the Minister’s office budget.  It must also not be reimbursed from the Minister’s office budget or any portfolio agency.

Parking Space Levy

Staff employed under Part 2 of the MOPS Act or seconded under the GSE Regulation who are provided with a car parking space by their employer, must pay the parking space levy as a private expense.  The annual cost of the levy is set under the arrangements established by the Parking Space Levy Act 2009 and the Parking Space Levy Regulation 2009.  Payment will be recovered from the user through fortnightly payroll deductions.

Wreaths, Flowers and Donations

Wreaths or flowers may be purchased from the Minister’s office funds to be given as an expression of sympathy and condolence on the occasion of funerals or memorial services for people who have made significant contributions within the Minister’s portfolio.  Where families or representatives indicate a preference for a donation to an entity that provides public benefit, a donation of similar value to the cost of wreaths or flowers may be made.  Expenditure for these purposes should be guided by community standards.  Particular care should be taken to distinguish between official and private purposes, and overlaps with agency responsibilities must be avoided.

Gift Giving

The decision to present a gift is at the discretion of the Minister, having regard to both appropriateness and economy (See ATTACHMENT M).

DPC Protocol is available to provide advice including suggestions and details of suppliers. DPC Protocol can be contacted on protocol@dpc.nsw.gov.au.

Petty Cash

To facilitate the reimbursement of minor out of pocket expenses an office may choose to run a petty cash float. Only official business expenses may be reimbursed from petty cash.

  • A staff member must be nominated to manage the petty cash float and will need to:Keep the petty cash records up to date.
  • Make recoupments regularly.
  • Keep petty cash funds locked in a safe place and make sure the key is held securely. An unlocked office desk does not offer suitable security for the petty cash float or for the key.

Instructions on petty cash operation are published in Treasurer’s Direction 290.

The current limit for individual purchases is $100.  Purchases must not be “split” to bring them within the limit.  Supporting documentation (e.g., receipts) needs to be obtained whenever possible.  Petty cash claims must be certified and authorised prior to payment.

An alternative to an internal petty cash system for Ministers’ offices is to use GovConnect’s cashier services.

Payment of Debt to Employer

Ministers’ staff need to pay any debts to DPC in accordance with any notice issued.  Where the debt is larger than may reasonably be paid in a single payment, a time payment plan may be approved by the Minister.

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