Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs) are written instruments that may be issued by the accountable authority to instruct officials on matters relating to the finance law. AAIs assist the accountable authorities in meeting their general duties under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and establishing appropriate internal controls for their entity.
AAIs include instructions that the accountable authority expects officials to follow when exercising powers and carrying out functions and duties under the PGPA Act. Issued AAIs form part of the finance law, and officials are required to understand and follow.
The PGPA Act provides the flexibility to establish systems and instructions to create an operating environment that supports the proper use and management of public resources, while applying the minimum controls in order for entities to achieve their outcomes without stifling innovation.
What are Model AAIs?
Model AAIs are guidelines designed by the Department of Finance to help accountable authorities provide operational instructions to their officials. The Model AAIs for non-corporate Commonwealth entities and Model AAIs for corporate Commonwealth entities address core business topics and are not mandatory for accountable authorities to follow. They are organised in the format of a template so that accountable authorities can change the model AAIs to suit the needs of their entity.
The models AAIs contain four sections:
- an introduction to help officials determine whether the instructions are relevant to their activities or actions;
- the model instructions (text in grey boxes) on the core requirements of the topic;
- suggestions for additional instructions (text in italics) that may be included where relevant to suit an entity’s specific needs;
- links to relevant legislative requirements, policy, and guidance.
Templates for the Model AAIs are available under Tools and templates.
How to use model AAIs – better practice tips
- When issuing instructions an accountable authority should consider the entity’s purposes, operations, operating environment and relevant policies of the Australian Government.
- AAIs should be accessible to officials at all levels of the entity. For example:
- written in plain language, providing clear directions to officials on requirements to meet their responsibilities in relation to resource management;
- closely aligned with internal financial delegations issued to officials (in particular, officials who exercise a delegation under the PGPA legislation require clear instructions on how the PGPA legislation and relevant policies apply to them);
- be risk-based for the entity’s circumstances.
- AAIs do not have to be called “accountable authority instructions”, for example, they may be called “Secretary’s Instructions”. However, it is important to distinguish between instructions issued under section 20A PGPA Act and other internal guidelines issued within an entity.