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Policy on the Authorisation of University Expenditure

Approving Authority: Council
Establishment Date: 6 December 2007
Date Last Amendment: 1 December 2011
Nature of Amendment: Amendment to Schedule of Expenditure Authorisations
Date Last Reviewed: December 2011
Responsible Officer: Director, Financial Services



Purpose and Scope


The purpose of this policy is to

• clearly articulate the lines of responsibility and accountability with respect to authorising the expenditure of University funds; and
• to establish effective and auditable internal controls in relation to the authorisation of expenditure.



This policy does not cover requirements which may exist for additional approval, for example by a University committee, prior to expenditure being authorised. Officers with expenditure authority must ensure that all necessary approvals have been obtained, and all other relevant University policies have been complied with (see section 6 below), prior to authorising the expenditure of University funds.





The dollar limits specified in accordance with this policy, apply to contracts only in cases where the contract is for the purchase of goods or services. Other limits may apply to other types of contracts. These limits are set out in Appendix A to the Policy on Delegations of Authority to Enter into Contracts.



Exercise of Expenditure Authority



Council has certain incidental powers under the Flinders University of South Australia Act 1966, including the power to oversee and manage the expenditure of University funds.






All expenditure of University funds:

• must be authorised by Council, either directly or through sub-authorisation in accordance with this policy;

• must be for and on behalf of the University, and for University purposes; and

• must be consistent with the University’s approved budget





Council may at its discretion delegate authority to University officers to authorise, within specified limits, the expenditure of University funds. Authorised officers in turn may sub-authorise expenditure authority to appropriate officers within their areas of responsibility (see section 4 below).








A Schedule of Expenditure Authorisations (hereafter referred to as ‘the Schedule’) will be maintained as an appendix to this policy. The Schedule will be submitted to Council for confirmation or amendment on an annual basis. The Schedule will set out:

• the officers to whom an expenditure authorisation has been delegated by Council (‘Authorised Officer’);
• the limits and restrictions which apply to each Council delegated expenditure authorisation; and
• the officers to whom an Authorised Officer may sub-authorise the expenditure authorisation (‘Sub-Authorised Officer’).




The dollar limits prescribed in the Schedule, and sub-authorisations made in accordance with this policy, apply to the total value of an item of expenditure, not to separate progress payments relating to that item. The dollar limits are in Australian dollars and net of any GST credits which the University can claim back.




General restrictions applying to all expenditure





Expenditure incurred in the name of, or for the benefit of, an individual, must not be authorised by the person in whose name or for whose benefit the expenditure is to be incurred.



Further restrictions apply to expenditure incurred through the use of a University purchasing card (see Purchasing Card Policy)



Sub-authorisation of expenditure authority





The Schedule sets out the extent to which Authorised Officers may sub-authorise their expenditure authority to a Sub-Authorised Officer. An Authorised Officer may sub-authorise their expenditure authority to more than one Sub-Authorised Officer at a time.




Sub-authorisations must be made in writing.





Any single sub-authorisation must not exceed 70% of the expenditure authority dollar limit of the Authorised Officer making the sub-authorisation. In cases where a sub-authorisation is made to a General Staff member at HEO5 or below the expenditure authority dollar limit must not exceed $5,000.




Any single sub-authorisation must be limited in scope to the Sub-Authorised Officer’s area of responsibility.




A sub-Authorised Officer may not further sub-authorise their expenditure authority.



The expenditure authority exercised by staff by virtue of their use of either a purchasing card or by accessing the Corporate Express online purchasing service is an expenditure sub-authorisation from the relevant Authorised Officer. These sub-authorisations will be confirmed annually in accordance with clause 5.3. Card holders and staff with Corporate Express online purchasing access may be separately authorised to approve expenditure outside these processes, with different dollar limits.




A Sub-Authorised Officer will at all times be accountable to the relevant Authorised Officer in exercising that expenditure authority. The Authorised Officer is responsible for ensuring that any sub-authorisation made by them is properly exercised.





Normally, sub-authorisations will be made to an officer by virtue of the position they hold rather than to an individual. However, an Authorised Officer may make sub-authorisations to individuals where appropriate (e.g. – to research grant holders or staff with consulting funds).



Where a person is appointed to act in a position, the expenditure authority pertaining to that position will apply to that person for the period that they are acting in the position. Written notification from the supervisor of the position regarding the acting arrangements must be made to the Financial Services Division area responsible for maintaining expenditure sub-authorisation records. The Director, Financial Services will ensure that appropriate procedures are established to cover short term absences of staff in cases where no formal acting arrangements are in place.




Record keeping



The University must maintain an up to date record of expenditure authorisations and sub-authorisations for the purpose of verification of expenditure authority. The record must include

• name of position of the Authorised Officer or Sub-Authorised Officer
• name of individual occupying the position
• expenditure authority dollar limit
•accounts from which expenditure can be authorised
• date range if applicable
• example of the individual’s signature
• in the case of sub-authorisations, copies of the written instrument of sub-authorisation by the Authorised Officer to the Sub-Authorised Officer



The Director, Financial Services will ensure that procedures are established for regular reconciliation of written expenditure sub-authorisations with expenditure approval limits recorded in the finance and other related electronic systems.


The Director, Financial Services will, on an annual basis, provide the following lists for review and confirmation of authorisation by Authorised Officers:
  • a list of expenditure sub-authorisations approved by the Authorised Officer to staff in their area of responsibility
  • a list of University purchasing card holders within their area of responsibility
  • a list of staff with access to online purchasing through Corporate Express within their area of responsibility


Each of these lists must specify relevant dollar limits for each staff member. Specimen signatures are not required on these lists.




Related policies



Expenditure authorised in accordance with this policy must comply with all other relevant University policies including:
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Purchasing Policy
  • Purchasing Card Policy
  • Tender for goods and services
  • Payment of Accounts
  • Policy on Travel, Accommodation and Subsistence



Contracts entered into on behalf of the University must comply with the Policy on Delegations of Authority to Enter into Contracts.