Working with others - RMG 215

First published:  April 2017

Audience

This RMG provides tools and case studies to support officials of Commonwealth entities to work cooperatively with others to achieve common objectives.

Why work with others

Why work with others

  • In a time of increasing complexity and public policy challenges, a Commonwealth public sector that works together effectively and readily with other levels of government, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, provides opportunities for streamlining and minimising duplication. It offers potential economies to the wider community and improved service to citizens.
  • Access to diverse views and perspectives during policy development and implementation allows for a broad consideration of issues. It can also help identify a wider range of potential solutions, including underutilised and untapped delivery channels and multiple pathways that are beyond the capacity of a single entity to provide. Ultimately this results in a qualitatively enhanced approach which improves outcomes for government and citizens.
  • “Working with others” considered in its broadest sense includes collaboration, co‑design, multiple implementation partners and “joined up” government.  The key characteristic is the involvement of multiple participants with a shared outcome as their objective.
  • Red tape can stifle innovation and affect the productivity and profitability of the partners.  Therefore, when cooperating with others, officials of Commonwealth entities are encouraged to impose the minimum compliance and reporting requirements needed to support the proper use and management of public resources for which their accountable authority is responsible under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2014 (PGPA Act).
  • An object of the PGPA Act is to require Commonwealth entities to work cooperatively with others to achieve common objectives, where practical (section 5(c)(iv) of the PGPA Act). The duties of accountable authorities go beyond financial management and ethics to include issues of culture and behaviour (section 17 and section 18 of the PGPA Act).  These duties require an accountable authority to establish values in the entity that consider the use of public resources beyond entity borders.
  • The participants in a cooperative arrangement can come from different sectors in the community, different bodies within the same sector, different levels of government, different private organisations and different non-profit bodies. Cooperating with others can involve anyone who has a stake in the outcomes under a government policy, or can help develop and or implement a policy in the most efficient, effective and economical manner. Useful forms of cooperation can range from:
    • participants simply consulting one another to share the benefit of expertise, for example, a community of practice established to discuss approaches to entity treasury functions
    • through integrated partnerships, for example sharing resources, staff, management, joint planning in pursuit of a shared approach to the market for entity transactional banking services)
    • to shared services.
  • The following diagram illustrates that there is no single approach to cooperation. The nature and extent of cooperation will be determined by the practicality of cooperating, the objectives to be achieved and the operating context of the prospective participants. 

 

Systems of internal controls

  • Your accountable authority is required to establish systems of risk amangement and internal controls for your entity that promote a culture of cooperation and operationalise cooperation at a transactional level. This can include:
    • developing and promoting a positive risk culture in the entity
    • establishing instructions for officials
    • delegating powers and functions to appropriate levels within the entity.

Risk management

  • Your accountable authority is responsible for establishing and maintaining a positive risk culture in the entity that promotes a culture of cooperation and operationalise cooperation at a transactional level.

Related resources

Accountable authority instructions

  • Your accountable authority can give written instructions to officials in their entity on any matter relating to the finance law (section 20A of the PGPA Act), for example by:
    • instructing officials of Commonwealth entities other than their own in relation to public resources for which the accountable authority is responsible (section 20A(2))
    • instructing individuals who are ordinarily not officials of a non-corporate entity (NCE), but have been prescribed as officials of an NCE under the PGPA Rule.

Related resources

Delegating or authorising officials to exercise powers under the PGPA Act

  • To enable officials to better cooperate with others, your accountable authority can delegate or authorise many of their powers and functions to officials. This can include sub-delegating powers and functions delegated to the accountable authority by the Finance Minister (section 110 of the PGPA Act).
  • Accountable authority delegations or authorisations can:
    • empower officials to exercise powers and functions to support transactions on behalf of the entity (or the Commonwealth, if the entity is an NCE)
    • allow officials to undertake functions that are part of the day-to-day operations of the entity including, in relation to cooperative activities, entering into arrangements related to the affairs of the entity, granting indemnities, or opening bank accounts
    • delegate or authorise officials of entities other than their own to exercise functions and powers
    • for NCEs, delegate functions and powers to a contracted individual who is not ordinarily an official, but who has been prescribed as an official in accordance with section 9 of the PGPA Rule.
  • An accountable authority of a NCE cannot delegate the powers, functions and duties listed in section 110(2) of the PGPA Act.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Delegating powers to prescribed officials

  • Collection of fees by contractor for an NCE
  • Property service providers
  • Engagement of a contractor through an employment firm

Delegating powers to contractors in relation to other CRF money

  • Administration of a grants program by a person outside the Commonwealth
  • Collection of fees to attend a function by a person outside the Commonwealth

Prescribing a person as an official of a NCE

  • A contractor can be prescribed as an official of a NCE if the contracted individual is required to exercise a power or function under the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule (item 1A of the table in section 9(1) of the PGPA Rule). An accountable authority can prescribe a contractor as an official in instances where it is not practicable for an official of the entity to exercise the relevant powers under the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule.
  • A contractor who is prescribed as an official will be:
    • subject to the general duties of officials under the PGPA Act while they provide relevant services to the Commonwealth
    • subject to the systems of internal control in the entity, including any accountable authority instructions
    • delegated the powers or functions in the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule that they are required to exercise (with accompanying instructions if required).
  • For more on when and how to prescribe a person as an official, see RMG 212: Prescribing officials for non-corporate Commonwealth entities.

Related resources

Working with others in the Commonwealth

Budget process

  • The Budget Process Operational Rules (BPORs) are underpinned by a set of principles that aim to support the development of policy proposals in line with the Government’s policy and fiscal objectives. There is explicit guidance in the BPORs for consideration of the most appropriate body to undertake activities, including outsourcing activities to the non‑government sector or a lower level of government and the requirement for cross portfolio consultation and agreement.
  • Finance’s involvement in the coordination of the Budget process provides an overarching view of spending proposals across government. Finance can use this position to assist entities to assess the extent to which proposed activities are cooperative, and to encourage entities to pursue opportunities not otherwise identified, primarily via the portfolio Agency Advice Unit (AAU) in Finance.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Audit committees

  • Efficiencies and other benefits can be gained where the accountable authorities of two or more entities agree to establish one shared audit committee. Circumstances which might support the use of such an arrangement include:
  • the entities concerned are relatively small
  • there is an effective working relationship between the entities and their accountable authorities and, possibly, some shared corporate services or business arrangements
  • the entities are involved in similar functions (e.g. regulatory responsibilities) and business processes that could result in mutual benefits from a joint audit focus
  • a portfolio department considers there are benefits in a portfolio approach to meeting the audit committee responsibilities.
  • Participating in joint committees may give rise to additional conflict of interest and confidentiality issues. These need to be understood by members and be explicitly recognised and managed as part of the committee’s processes.

Related resources

Special accounts to establish shared pools of funds

  • Special accounts are a type of special appropriation that can provide a useful way for a NCE to create a shared pool of funds that can be used for specified purposes. Special accounts are flexible mechanisms that enable money to be collected from different sources, used to fund a variety of purposes and can be established to be accessed by different NCEs. There are two ways to establish special accounts by: 
  • an Act of parliament (section 80 of the PGPA Act) or
  • a determination by the Finance Minister (section 78 of the PGPA Act).
  • While special accounts are typically used by NCEs, CCEs may from time to time manage a special account on behalf of the Commonwealth. CCEs do not need to establish special accounts, as they are legally separate from the Commonwealth and can set up shared financial arrangements without requiring a new appropriation.
  • For more on special accounts.

Related resources

Advisory committees

  • The accountable authority of a NCE can establish an advisory board to assist them in governing the entity (section 24 of the PGPA Act). This may include the provision of advice to support the development of a culture and operationalisation of cooperative activities. An advisory board can contain persons who are not officials of the entity (e.g. individuals representing partners outside of government the entity has, or may, cooperate with).
  • CCEs will typically have their governance arrangements, including whether an advisory board must be established, set out in their enabling legislation.

Working with other Commonwealth bodies

National Collaboration Framework

  • The Commonwealth and CCEs work cooperatively with other jurisdictions including the states and territories and local government. Cooperation may be formal or informal, ongoing or short term. It may or may not have financial implications.
  • The National Collaboration Framework (NCF) assists Commonwealth entities, state, territory and local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives. The NCF:
  • can be used for any intra or cross-jurisdictional project that would typically use a memorandum of understanding
  • provides a tiered approach for entities to follow when seeking to collaborate and reduces costs, time and risk associated with program or project development and delivery
  • provides processes and tools, including a suite of template agreements (which includes a collaborative head agreement).
  • The PGPA Act supports Commonwealth, state and territory governments cooperating to establish interjurisdictional entities. For example the Act:
  • allows a state of territory minister to request reports, documents and information from prescribed Commonwealth entities (section 82)
  • prevents the Commonwealth from placing restrictions on a state or territory auditor‑general where the Commonwealth provides money for a particular purpose to a state or territory or state or territory body (section 83). In addition, a body established by a Commonwealth law could be audited by a state or territory auditor‑general if the body receives money from the state or territory.
  • The Government Collaborative Suite contains more resources to assist Commonwealth entities, state/territory and local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Grants

  • The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) support significant interactions between NCEs and others. The framework supports NCEs to achieve government policy objectives by establishing partnerships with individuals and organisations.  CCEs are not required to adhere to the CGRGs, but are encouraged to adopt the principles where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • Reforms currently occurring to the framework to improve cooperation with the non‑government sector include:
  • establishing standard grants tools and templates to reduce red tape
  • developing GrantConnect (an equivalent to Austender for grants).

Payments by an agent on behalf of an NCE   [pop-up link to case studies below]

An arrangement for a person outside the Commonwealth to administer a grants program   [pop-up link]

Related resources

Procurements

  • The Commonwealth procurement framework supports NCEs purchasing goods and services from others. CCEs listed in section 30 of the PGPA Rule are also required to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).  CCEs that are not so prescribed are encouraged to adopt the procurement principles in the CPRs where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • The procurement framework is designed to make selling to and buying for government easier, by reducing red tape. 
  • Reforms to the procurement framework that will improve cooperation include:
  • establishing streamlined standard contract and tender documents, including the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for non-ICT procurements under $200,000 and the SourceIT and SourceIT Plus contracts for ICT procurements.
  • developing standard tender and contract documents for non-ICT procurements up to $1 million and for panel procurements
  • enhancing AusTender functionality to make it easier to buy from panels and to use AusTender from mobile devices
  • supporting centralised purchasing through a range of whole-of-government procurement arrangements.

Related resources

Special accounts to establish shared pools of funds

  • Special accounts are a type of special appropriation that can provide a useful way for a NCE to create a shared pool of funds that can be used for specified purposes. Special accounts are flexible mechanisms that enable money to be collected from different sources, used to fund a variety of purposes and can be established to be accessed by different NCEs. There are two ways to establish special accounts by: 
  • an Act of parliament (section 80 of the PGPA Act) or
  • a determination by the Finance Minister (section 78 of the PGPA Act).
  • While special accounts are typically used by NCEs, CCEs may from time to time manage a special account on behalf of the Commonwealth. CCEs do not need to establish special accounts, as they are legally separate from the Commonwealth and can set up shared financial arrangements without requiring a new appropriation.
  • For more on special accounts.

Related resources

Working with other jurisdictions

National Collaboration Framework

  • The Commonwealth and CCEs work cooperatively with other jurisdictions including the states and territories and local government. Cooperation may be formal or informal, ongoing or short term. It may or may not have financial implications.
  • The National Collaboration Framework (NCF) assists Commonwealth entities, state, territory and local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives. The NCF:
  • can be used for any intra or cross-jurisdictional project that would typically use a memorandum of understanding
  • provides a tiered approach for entities to follow when seeking to collaborate and reduces costs, time and risk associated with program or project development and delivery
  • provides processes and tools, including a suite of template agreements (which includes a collaborative head agreement).
  • The PGPA Act supports Commonwealth, state and territory governments cooperating to establish interjurisdictional entities. For example the Act:
  • allows a state of territory minister to request reports, documents and information from prescribed Commonwealth entities (section 82)
  • prevents the Commonwealth from placing restrictions on a state or territory auditor‑general where the Commonwealth provides money for a particular purpose to a state or territory or state or territory body (section 83). In addition, a body established by a Commonwealth law could be audited by a state or territory auditor‑general if the body receives money from the state or territory.
  • The Government Collaborative Suite contains more resources to assist Commonwealth entities, state/territory and local jurisdictions to work collaboratively to achieve government objectives.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Grants

  • The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) support significant interactions between NCEs and others. The framework supports NCEs to achieve government policy objectives by establishing partnerships with individuals and organisations.  CCEs are not required to adhere to the CGRGs, but are encouraged to adopt the principles where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • Reforms currently occurring to the framework to improve cooperation with the non‑government sector include:
  • establishing standard grants tools and templates to reduce red tape
  • developing GrantConnect (an equivalent to Austender for grants).

Related resources

Procurements

  • The Commonwealth procurement framework supports NCEs purchasing goods and services from others. CCEs listed in section 30 of the PGPA Rule are also required to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).  CCEs that are not so prescribed are encouraged to adopt the procurement principles in the CPRs where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • The procurement framework is designed to make selling to and buying for government easier, by reducing red tape. 
  • Reforms to the procurement framework that will improve cooperation include:
  • establishing streamlined standard contract and tender documents, including the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for non-ICT procurements under $200,000 and the SourceIT and SourceIT Plus contracts for ICT procurements.
  • developing standard tender and contract documents for non-ICT procurements up to $1 million and for panel procurements
  • enhancing AusTender functionality to make it easier to buy from panels and to use AusTender from mobile devices
  • supporting centralised purchasing through a range of whole-of-government procurement arrangements.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Special accounts to establish shared pools of funds

  • Special accounts are a type of special appropriation that can provide a useful way for a NCE to create a shared pool of funds that can be used for specified purposes. Special accounts are flexible mechanisms that enable money to be collected from different sources, used to fund a variety of purposes and can be established to be accessed by different NCEs. There are two ways to establish special accounts by: 
  • an Act of parliament (section 80 of the PGPA Act) or
  • a determination by the Finance Minister (section 78 of the PGPA Act).
  • While special accounts are typically used by NCEs, CCEs may from time to time manage a special account on behalf of the Commonwealth. CCEs do not need to establish special accounts, as they are legally separate from the Commonwealth and can set up shared financial arrangements without requiring a new appropriation.
  • For more on special accounts.

Related resources

Working with private and community sectors

Prescribing officials

  • A contractor can be prescribed as an official of a NCE if the contracted individual is required to exercise a power or function under the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule (item 1A of the table in section 9(1) of the PGPA Rule). An accountable authority can prescribe a contractor as an official in instances where it is not practicable for an official of the entity to exercise the relevant powers under the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule.
  • A contractor who is prescribed as an official will be:
    • subject to the general duties of officials under the PGPA Act while they provide relevant services to the Commonwealth
    • subject to the systems of internal control in the entity, including any accountable authority instructions
    • delegated the powers or functions in the PGPA Act or PGPA Rule that they are required to exercise (with accompanying instructions if required).
  • For more on when and how to prescribe a person as an official, see RMG 212: Prescribing officials for non-corporate Commonwealth entities

Grants

  • The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) support significant interactions between NCEs and others. The framework supports NCEs to achieve government policy objectives by establishing partnerships with individuals and organisations.  CCEs are not required to adhere to the CGRGs, but are encouraged to adopt the principles where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • Reforms currently occurring to the framework to improve cooperation with the non‑government sector include:
  • establishing standard grants tools and templates to reduce red tape
  • developing GrantConnect (an equivalent to Austender for grants).

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Procurements

  • The Commonwealth procurement framework supports NCEs purchasing goods and services from others. CCEs listed in section 30 of the PGPA Rule are also required to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).  CCEs that are not so prescribed are encouraged to adopt the procurement principles in the CPRs where relevant, as a matter of good practice.
  • The procurement framework is designed to make selling to and buying for government easier, by reducing red tape. 
  • Reforms to the procurement framework that will improve cooperation include:
  • establishing streamlined standard contract and tender documents, including the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for non-ICT procurements under $200,000 and the SourceIT and SourceIT Plus contracts for ICT procurements.
  • developing standard tender and contract documents for non-ICT procurements up to $1 million and for panel procurements
  • enhancing AusTender functionality to make it easier to buy from panels and to use AusTender from mobile devices
  • supporting centralised purchasing through a range of whole-of-government procurement arrangements.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Special accounts to establish shared pools of funds

  • Special accounts are a type of special appropriation that can provide a useful way for a NCE to create a shared pool of funds that can be used for specified purposes. Special accounts are flexible mechanisms that enable money to be collected from different sources, used to fund a variety of purposes and can be established to be accessed by different NCEs. There are two ways to establish special accounts by: 
  • an Act of parliament (section 80 of the PGPA Act) or
  • a determination by the Finance Minister (section 78 of the PGPA Act).
  • While special accounts are typically used by NCEs, CCEs may from time to time manage a special account on behalf of the Commonwealth. CCEs do not need to establish special accounts, as they are legally separate from the Commonwealth and can set up shared financial arrangements without requiring a new appropriation.
  • For more on special accounts.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Infrastructure procurement

  • Policy and guidance for NCEs partnering with the private sector for the provision of public infrastructure and related services is on the Infrastructure Australia website.  CCEs are recommended to adopt the principles where relevant, as a matter of good practice.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

Other CRF money

  • Where an NCE wants to cooperate with others outside the Commonwealth (other than a CCE) to carry out projects such as administer grants programs that will involve collecting or paying money on behalf of the Commonwealth, it can do this by establishing an ‘other CRF money’ arrangement with the other person. This arrangement is called an ‘other CRF money’ arrangement because the person outside of the Commonwealth is engaged to handle and manage money on behalf of the Commonwealth that is not relevant money for the purposes of the PGPA Act, but legally belongs to the Commonwealth and is part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
  • Accountable authorities of NCEs are responsible for ensuring that arrangements with persons outside the Commonwealth to use or manage other CRF money promote the proper use and management of that money.  These arrangements are governed by provisions in section 105 of the PGPA Act and section 29 of the PGPA Rule.
  • Other CRF money arrangements do not apply to CCEs, as they are legally separate from the Commonwealth, and so the money they manage, while relevant money, is generally not part of the CRF.

Case studies (RMG 003)

Related resources

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Last updated: 30 August 2017