3. Special Accounts and Budget Estimates
Public money is money in the Commonwealth’s possession or control including money that is held in trust. Public money forms part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
Public money is classified as follows:
- Departmental – funds controlled by the department and used in producing departmental outputs and outcomes;
- Administered – controlled by the Government and managed or oversighted by the department on behalf of the Government; or
- Special Public Money – public money that is not held on behalf of the Commonwealth or for the use or benefit of the Commonwealth (including money held in a trustee capacity).
Special accounts exist within the CRF as a means of identifying funds held for a specific purpose or held in a trustee capacity. For example, the Consular Services special account holds money in trust for consular clients. Special accounts may be created by an Act or by the Finance Minister under FMA Act section 20. A list of DFAT special accounts is attached.
3.2 Special Public Money
- Employees responsible for the care, custody and/or control of Special Public Money that is the subject of a special instruction issued by the Finance Minister must follow those instructions and ensure that proper records are kept in relation to that money.
- Ensure that special accounts are maintained in accordance with established accrual accounting principles and instructions issued by the Finance Minister.
- Employees who receive Special Public Money must credit it to the Special Account that has been established for the purpose.
- The Consular Services Special Account is only to be used for processing funds held on behalf of Australian citizens who require assistance overseas.
- In the absence of a specifically established special account, Special Public Money should be credited to the Services Other Entities and Trust Moneys (SOETM) special account.
- The SOETM special account can be used to hold money in trust pending confirmation of where it should be applied. For example, court awarded financial compensation could be held in the SOETM special account pending the outcome of an appeal.
- In special circumstances private funds (eg in soft currency) can be transferred to an employee that cannot be transferred through normal banking channels at the end of a posting. For example, money from the sale of a motor vehicle could be credited to the SOETM special account and paid to the employee in Australian dollars.
- Chief Finance Officer
- Finance Managers
- Employees receiving or in control of Special Public Money
- As required
- Follow any special instructions issued by the Finance Minister or, if instructions have not been issued, follow accrual accounting principles and instructions applicable to the operation of Special Accounts in accounting for Special Public Money.
- Special account balances are to be reconciled at least once every month.
- Employees receiving Special Public Money must credit the moneys to the Special Account established for the purpose of receiving that type of Special Public Money; or
- If there is no specific Special Account set aside for Special Public Money credit the money to the SOETM special account.
- Money deposited to the Consular Services Special Account on behalf of Australian citizens overseas is to be converted at the applicable spot exchange rate and paid in the currency of the receiving post.
3.3 Special Accounts
Officials responsible for DFAT special accounts
The following table lists the positions responsible for DFAT special accounts or sub-accounts.
|Special account||Responsible position|
|Overseas Property special account||ED OPO|
|Expositions special account||ED SWE|
|Consular Services special account||FAS CPD|
|Administered Payments and Receipts for Other Entities special account||Director FPT|
|Services for Other Entities and Trust Money:|
||Director CPS ACB|
||Divisional Coordinator ILD|
||Finance Managers Phnom Penh, Dili, and Rangoon|
||Finance Manager, Los Angeles|
||Divisional Coordinator ILD|
||Finance Manager, Bali|
||Finance Manager Baghdad|
||Finance Manager Athens|
||Finance Manager Harare|
- Special accounts must be managed in accordance with Finance’s Guidelines for Management of Special Accounts (refer to Finance Policies and Legislation).
- Officials responsible for a special account or sub account must ensure money credited to the account is consistent with Finance Minister’s determination.
- Approvers must not approve a payment from a special account unless:
- Sufficient uncommitted funds are available in Australian dollars.
- The payment is consistent with Finance Minister’s determination.
Correction of errors
- An Approver may approve a debit from a special account where:
- The account has been incorrectly credited by virtue of a clerical mistake; or
- The account has been credited through the discretion of an official and the exercise of that discretion was actuated by a fundamental mistake of fact or law.
- The Approver should seek legal advice before approving a debit on this basis.
DFAT Special Account Determinations
|Special account title||Kind of amounts that may be credited||Purposes for which amounts may be debited|
|Overseas Property Special Account||
Amounts received in the course of the performance of functions that relate to the purposes of the Overseas Property Special Account.
Amounts received from any person for the purposes of the Overseas Property Special Account.
* Incidental activities include:
|Administered Payments and Receipts for Other Entities Special Account||
Payments (including notional payments) by other entities to DFAT made on the basis that DFAT has or will make payments on behalf of that entity in other countries.
Amounts collected overseas by DFAT, on behalf of other entities.
* Incidental activities include the administration of the Special Account, including dealing with direct and indirect costs.
|Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys – DFAT Special Account||
Amounts to be held on trust or otherwise for the benefit of a person other than the Commonwealth.
Amounts received in the course of the performance of functions that relate to purposes of the Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys – Foreign Affairs and Trade Special Account.
Amounts received from any person for the purposes of the Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys – Foreign Affairs and Trade Special Account.
|Consular Services Special Account||
Amounts received in the course of the performance of functions that relate to the purposes of the Consular Services Special Account.
Amounts received from any person for the purposes of the Consular Services Special Account.
* Incidental activities include:
|Expositions Special Account||
Amounts received in the course of the performance of functions that relate to the purposes of the Expositions Special Account.
Amounts received from any person for the purposes of the Expositions Special Account.
- The department is to prepare budget estimates, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and Portfolio Budget Statements in accordance with Finance’s instructions.
- The Chief Finance Officer
- Director BDS
- As specified in Finance’s Estimates Memoranda.
- Prepare financial estimates in accordance with Estimates Memoranda and other instructions issued by the Finance Chief Executive;
- Obtain the approval of Ministers of the DFAT portfolio for the department's financial estimates; and
- Prepare Portfolio Budget Statements for the department in compliance with Estimates Memoranda and other instructions issued by the Finance Chief Executive.
3.5 Retaining money received by DFAT
Please refer to FMM 15.15