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A further dimension of an appropriation is its scope (s9 PFA 1989). Scope establishes the legal boundary of what an appropriation can be used for and, by omission, what it cannot.

What is Scope?

  • The scope establishes the limits of what an appropriation can be used for; its legal boundary.
  • The scope is specified in a short statement.
  • The purpose of a scope statement is to provide an effective constraint against un- authorised activity while not inappropriately constraining activity intended to be authorised.
  • A scope statement is not a performance measure and should not express the results desired from the appropriation. However, a scope statement should always be consistent with the performance information that relates to the same appropriation in the Information Supporting the Estimates and other accountability documents.
  • The scope of an appropriation is limited to the words used in the scope statement and does not include the appropriation title or any other explanations included in the wider budget documentation (further information on title is on page 13).

What Makes a Good Scope Statement?

  • A good scope statement should be clear, meaning that it should be well written, informative and jargon-free.
  • It must be comprehensive, covering all uses for the expenses or capital expenditure intended to be within its boundary.
  • It should also be balanced to ensure that it is not so restrictive that it excludes intended purposes unnecessarily.
  • It should provide a defined boundary and, as such, we recommend that new or significantly modified scope statements include a stem (common starting statement) of “This appropriation is limited to” or, for a category of expenses or capital expenditure within an MCA, “This category is limited to”.

For advice on requirements of scope statements driven by an appropriation type (especially in relation to output expense appropriations) refer to the type section on pages 5-9.

Maintaining Scope Statements

  • It is recommended that departments review scope statements annually at the beginning of the budget cycle (October-December) to ensure that they are up to date (eg, do not reference out-of-date legislation) and present no significant legal risks to the Crown (for example, by not being comprehensive).
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