Financial Services

Financial Delegations and Authority Policy

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Authorised signatory form

The University of Western Australia has an obligation to be financially accountable for its income and expenditure and its assets and liabilities, even though it has a number of exemptions from the Financial Management Act 2006.

This section outlines the financial responsibilities for staff within the University, the role of policies within the University’s financial administration and provides details regarding the Acts and Statutes as they relate to the financial aspect of the University.

Policy statement

Financial delegations

  • The Senate is the accountable authority under the Financial Management Act 2006 and as such is responsible for the general control and management of the University's affairs. In order to perform its functions the Senate has the power to appoint officers to act in matters concerning the University in such manner as will best promote the interests of the University in accordance with The University of Western Australia Act, 1911 as amended, Section 13.
  • Further the Vice-Chancellor has the authority under The University of Western Australia Act, 1911 as amended, Section 27 to delegate any functions or duties so imposed to a member of staff, persons or committee of persons.
  • Staff charged with financial responsibilities must be aware of the financial delegations arising from both their positions of office and well as specific delegations arising from the recording of a financial delegation by an appropriate hierarchical authority. Please refer to The University of Western Australia Financial Delegations.

Recording of delegations

  • A number of delegations are imposed by office and are recorded within within the University’s Delegations Policy website and under the ‘function report’ – ‘Financial Management’. Specific approved financial delegations also arise from a written notification by an appropriate hierarchical authority and are recorded by the signed notification. The authorised financial delegation should be forwarded to Financial Services for retention in a list of staff’s approved financial delegations register. It is recommended details of financial delegations are also retained at source.
  • Staff who have approved financial responsibility to authorise expenditure and to administer funds on behalf of the University, generally have a financial delegation arising from an approval by the hierarchical authority, for example Deans, Heads of School, as appropriate. It is essential that any changes in staff responsibilities are identified and changes to the appropriateness of delegations are noted in a timely manner. The removal of a previously approved financial delegation should be forwarded to Financial Services for updating of the financial delegations listing. To update and record variations of delegates an authorised signatory form needs to be completed:

Functions of delegates

Financial delegations extend to all financial functions. All staff with delegated financial authority should exercise that authority solely on behalf of the University. There are two main functions of financial delegates at Business Unit level:

  • Certifying Officer: an officer delegated in writing to certify to correctness of each payment voucher and/or invoice prior to payment.
  • Incurring Officer: an officer delegated in writing to incur expenditure. The officer provides control over expenditure by signing on the payment voucher, purchase order or equivalent when the incurring of expenditure is appropriate.

Band 4a and 5a delegates may nominate officers as "authorised signatories" to incur commitments and expenditure, and to separately authorise payment vouchers and invoices prior to payment. To ensure appropriate segregation of duties both an Incurring Officer and a Certifying Officer are required to independently undertake their authorities for a single transaction. However, such authorities are to be exercised only within the budget available to the officer concerned and within project balances or approved overdrafts.

Hierarchical authorisations

The principle of hierarchical approval applies to all situations requiring approval of expenditure incurred by staff seeking reimbursements, acquittal of credit cards, cash advances or travel approval. By way of example if the expenditure is in relation to a Band 5a delegate then hierarchical approval applies and such expenditure must be authorised by the superior delegate to whom the Band 5a reports. The purpose for such independent authorisation it to prevent the possible exertion of “undue influence” of a senior position over a subordinate position holding financial authority within a Business Unit. A secondary aim it to ensure that expenditure of University funds is seen to be both at arm’s length and financially prudent.

Where the superior delegate is not available, approval is then sought from the next higher level delegated officer within the same hierarchy. In the case of Deans (or equivalents) and other senior members of staff, approval may be sought from any of the following:

  • Vice-Chancellor
  • Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • Executive Director (Finance and Resources)
  • Director, Financial Services (Expenditure approval only)

Sub-delegations

The University’s Delegation Policy item 3.(k) provides for sub-delegations on a temporary basis where the officer normally responsible is absent for a period of less than two weeks. For situations greater than two weeks a permanent delegation is required and hence the authorised signatory form will need to be completed as stated earlier in Recording of Delegations: