Foreword from the State Services Commissioner

Controlling sensitive expenditure: Guidelines for public entities.

Logo of the State Services Commission. Earning and nurturing the trust of the public is of critical importance to the successful operation of New Zealand's State Services.

The agencies of the State Services exercise special powers or influence over people's lives, and with this power comes responsibility. The responsibility to perform our duties in a manner that honours the trust that New Zealander's lend us, and the responsibility to ensure that our management of that trust is always accountable and transparent.

I welcome these Guidelines from the Controller and Auditor-General. The principles, guidelines and examples contained in this document provide further guidance for senior managers and staff across the State Services, reinforcing the importance of ensuring that we perform at all times in a manner that stands up to rigorous parliamentary and public scrutiny.

As well as the general principles, this document includes illustrative examples which apply the principles. These illustrations are not intended as a definitive guide. That would not be appropriate. The essential point is that senior public servants should use their judgement carefully in this area, and expect to be held to account for these judgements.

The range of examples is deliberately wide, because the Auditor-General's ambit is wide; but some things which may be possible in some commercially focussed areas of work (such as use of a corporate box, as outlined in this document) could be inappropriate in the State Services. It is our job to understand such distinctions, and make the right judgements.

Senior public servants, as this document suggests, need to model the behaviour that they want to see from their agencies. I expect that those public servants will continue to make their decisions based on the good judgement they have exhibited to date and informed by the principles outlined here.

Mark Prebble
State Services Commissioner

5 February 2007