Putting it all together

Spending public money wisely and well: how to put basic principles into practice.

The Office of the Auditor-General has put together:

  • The basic principles;
  • The different types of funding arrangements;
  • The life cycle of the funding arrangements;
  • The advice on choosing an appropriate type of arrangement, and
  • The practical guidance on how to go about managing the arrangement.

The result is a relatively comprehensive matrix which sets out some default expectations and guidance for each stage of each type of funding arrangement. A copy of that matrix is published with the good practice guide and accompanies this paper.

The expectations set out in that chart are not rules, or fixed things that we would expect every entity to do every time. Rather, they aim to give entities a sense of the types of things that might be done to give effect to their responsibilities at each stage of the process. They need to be seen alongside our primary expectation, which is that we expect public sector entities to be thinking about the nature of their responsibilities and the role that different types of funding arrangements have in their work, and to have developed their own strategies and policies for how they are going to manage that activity appropriately. We also expect them to be thinking about what the principles might require in any particular circumstance, taking into account that wide range of practical factors.

For public lawyers, this should be starting to sound like familiar territory. When we audit or inquire into an entity’s activities in this area, we are looking to see if it had sensible reasons for what it was doing. That is not too far away from the judicial review test of reasonableness. We are also looking to see whether it had taken adequate account of the public sector basics of accountability and good process – in the public law world that touches the same bases as checking whether a decision was made fairly and according to law. So we too, ultimately, are another check on whether public power is being exercised fairly, reasonably, and according to law.

next section...