Public Finance Act: Strategic Intentions Guidance

This guidance sets out the purpose of departmental strategic intentions, and the content and process requirements. It provides information that will help departments understand the requirements under the Public Finance Act (PFA), and further information for departments that are hosts or relevant departments of specified agencies (departmental agencies, interdepartmental executive boards and interdepartmental ventures).

The guidance covers these questions:

  • Why are departments required to publish strategic intentions?
  • When do strategic intentions need to be developed?
  • What content needs to be in strategic intentions?
  • How should departments keep users in mind when selecting, developing, structuring, and presenting information for strategic intentions?
  • How and when do departments publish their strategic intentions and present them to the House?

This guidance also has a companion document (Companion document to Strategic Intentions and Statement of Intent guidance) with:

  • suggestions on good practice processes which are associated with developing strategic intentions - such as strategic thinking, planning, and joined-up performance reporting within the department, and
  • prompts that can help people new to developing strategic intentions lead a process that draws together the content for discussion with the relevant people inside the department.

Table of contents

Purpose of this guidance

  • Companion document of prompts and process suggestions      
  • Audience for this Guidance         
  • Questions and Feedback

Why do departments publish strategic intentions?        

  • Department performance reporting is vital for public accountability to Parliament
  • Strategic intentions provide the medium-term framework for understanding departmental performance and organisational health

When do strategic intentions need to be developed?      

  • How often must departments provide strategic intentions?        
  • What situations would lead to new strategic intentions being provided more often than once every three years?      
  • What does ‘new’ mean in relation to providing new strategic intentions?          
  • What time period do strategic intentions cover? 
  • What if the department wants an extension of time to develop new intentions?
  • When do newly established departments need to publish strategic intentions?
  • When do newly established specified agencies need to publish strategic intentions?
  • Do hosts or relevant departments of specified agencies need to provide new information on their departmental strategic intentions?

What content needs to be in strategic intentions?         

  • Requirements for information on strategic intentions      
  • Objectives, functions and intended operations   
  • How the department intends to manage its functions and operations
  • Any other matters or requirements          
  • Specified agencies which the department may host or be a relevant department of

Keeping users in mind when selecting, developing, structuring and presenting information for intentions.

  • PBE FRS 48’s principles are relevant to strategic intentions
  • Who are the likely users of strategic intentions? 
  • Departments should use their own judgement on how to structure their strategic intentions
  • Clarity of presentation is essential to help users understand strategic intentions

How and when do departments provide their strategic intentions, present them to the House and publish them online?

  • Who does the department provide their strategic intentions to?
  • Responsible Ministers present strategic intentions to the House           
  • Strategic intentions are most often provided as standalone documents
  • Departments publish strategic intentions online after providing them to their responsible Minister      
  • A note on the terms ‘strategic intentions’ and ‘statements of intent’       
  • Intelligence and Security Departments Only
  • Chief Executive and Minister’s Statement

Minimum content requirements checklist