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Reorganisation of Appropriations for Policy Advice: Guide for Departments

3  Reorganisation of Appropriations for Policy Advice

3.1  New Scope Statement for Policy Advice

Treasury has worked with a number of agencies to develop the following common scope statement for policy advice appropriations and/or output classes. Departments must use this scope statement for their policy advice appropriations or output classes.

Standard scope statement for policy advice

This appropriation/output class is limited to the provision of advice (including second opinion advice and contributions to policy advice led by other agencies) to support decision-making by Ministers on government policy matters [relating to policy area x].

The part at the end of the scope statement “relating to policy area x” gives departments the option to further specify the nature of their policy advice outputs if they wish to do so. This is optional if you have a single policy advice appropriation within a Vote. If you have more than one policy advice appropriation this statement is required.

If departments wish to include additional information beyond the information provided in the standard scope statement, they can add explanatory material below the scope statement box in the Information Supporting the Estimates. This additional information should be entered in the port Entry - Performance Info of the Estimates module in CFISnet.

3.2  What Counts as Policy Advice?

3.2.1  Policy advice outputs

The definition of policy advice outlined below has been developed for the purpose of reorganising appropriations. It therefore defines policy advice as an output, ie, a service delivered external to the agency. This definition excludes the work within the agency on the same activities described below but are not completed for the purpose of providing advice to Ministers.

A policy advice output can be delivered as written or verbal advice, but it must be advice to Ministers on government policy matters.

Written policy advice generally takes the form of:

  • policy aides-memoire (although not seeking a decision, aides-memoire are included where the primary purpose is to inform a policy decision now or in the future)
  • policy briefing papers or reports
  • other presentation materials for Ministers, such as policy “A3s”, powerpoint slides, or presentations
  • policy working papers and options papers
  • Cabinet papers (including Regulatory Impact Statements), and
  • Departmental reports to select committees on Bills.

Verbal policy advice is generally delivered through:

  • regular and issues-specific meetings with Ministers, and
  • strategy sessions with Ministers.

Agencies quantifying the cost of these outputs need to cost the range of activities that have the primary purpose of informing the development of policy advice, as well as the actual development and drafting of the advice. This is because the activities that produce policy advice outputs, such as research and evaluation, are often done as separate projects, not directly for the purpose of the producing a particular output, and well in advance of the production of the output.

The activities that need to be costed fall under four broad categories:

  1. building and maintaining an evidence base (for the primary purpose of informing policy advice now and in the future)
  2. undertaking analysis and developing policy advice
  3. drafting policy advice and initial communications of the policy decision, and
  4. supporting legislative and regulatory decision making.

In deciding whether the cost of a certain activity should be included in the new policy advice appropriations, a department should test it against the common definition of policy advice in Annex 2.

3.2.2  Outputs that are not included as policy advice

Outputs that are not policy advice, but that many departmental policy related appropriations currently incorporate, include (but are not limited to):

  • the development of internally focused operational policies that do not require a Ministerial decision (sometimes referred to as operational policy),
  • services to support Ministers, especially in relation to Ministers' accountability to Parliament and the public, such as:
    • drafting replies to correspondence to Ministers
    • responding to Official Information Act requests
    • responding to Parliamentary Questions
    • appearing before Select Committees on non-legislative matters such as Estimates and financial review
    • preparing and drafting speeches and briefings for events or meetings
  • provision of information to the public, including drafting replies to correspondence to the agency or chief executive (excluding initial communication to stakeholders on policy decisions)
  • monitoring the performance and compliance of Crown entities (as distinct from providing policy advice to Ministers on issues relating to Crown entities) (see Annex 2 for more information)
  • appointing board members
  • administering grants
  • providing support services for statutory bodies
  • drafting of legislation (as distinct from issuing drafting instructions), and
  • implementing policy decisions.
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