This document is part of the Gifts, benefits and hospitality resource suite resource.

Effective monitoring and reporting is crucial to understanding your organisation’s gifts, benefits and hospitality activities as well as its risks and how best to treat them. This should be more than just monitoring individual offers or provision of gifts, benefits or hospitality – it involves risk-based monitoring of the policy, processes and register.

At a minimum, an organisation must report at least annually to its audit committee on the administration and quality control of its gifts, benefits and hospitality policy, processes and register. This must include analysis of your organisation’s gifts, benefits and hospitality risks (including multiple offers from the same source and offers from business associates), risk mitigation measures and any proposed improvements.

7.1 Recording gifts, benefits and hospitality offers

An organisation’s register is a record of all declarable gifts, benefits and hospitality offered to public officials. The register records sufficient information for identifying trends and key risks and forms the basis of risk-based monitoring and reporting. It also forms the basis of reporting to your organisation’s audit committee.

Information recorded on the register includes:

  • the date an offer was made;
  • the employee being made the offer;
  • the individual or organisation making the offer and whether they are a business associate;
  • the nature of the offer and its estimated or actual value;
  • the reason given for making the offer;
  • any legitimate business reason for accepting the offer;
  • whether the offer is a ceremonial gift;
  • any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest or reputational risks (to the individual, the public sector organisation or the public sector) that the offer raises;
  • if the offer was accepted or declined;
  • the decision on ownership of the offer; and
  • details of the manager or delegate who reviewed the offer and approved the offer if accepted.

Organisations are not required to declare or record declined offers of hospitality that are part of a generic, bulk event invitation (such as ‘spam’ email), or accepted hospitality provided by another Victorian public sector organisation. A template for a gifts, benefits and hospitality register is available on the VPSC website at www.vpsc.vic.gov.au/resources/gifts-benefits-and-hospitality-resource-suite/.

Organisations are expected to take into consideration their requirements under relevant privacy legislation, including the Information Privacy Principles under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (PDP Act), when recording items in their register and when publishing their register online. These requirements include:

  • Reasonable steps to protect the personal information collected and held by the organisation. Access to registers should be restricted to relevant persons within the organisation.
  • A publicly available privacy policy (e.g. published on the organisation’s website).
  • A publicly available collection notice to advise individuals when personal information will be collected. Organisations may wish to publish the collection notice alongside their gifts, benefits and hospitality policy, and provide a summary of the notice on their public register and declaration form. Organisations may also wish to communicate the collection notice to business associates, as part of their communications about the organisation’s policy.

Collection notices should:

  • ideally be provided to an individual before or at the time their personal information is collected;
  • be specific to the particular collection and the purpose for which the collected information will be used; and
  • be provided to both the individual offering the gift and the recipient, given the register will include personal information about both parties.

Organisations should also consider the long term retention of their registers using the guidance issued by the Public Record Office Victoria. For example, under Retention and Disposal Authority 07/01, registers could be considered as a function of information management and recordkeeping which should be retained permanently.

7.1.1 Public register

For transparency, and to comply with the minimum accountabilities, a subset of the information outlined in the register must be recorded on an organisation’s public register. Public registers should be published at the end of the financial year, although organisations may choose to update the register more frequently. Public registers must cover both the most recent and the previous financial year. Each organisation should have a designated person responsible for maintaining and publishing the register.

An organisation’s public register should include the following information:

  • the date an offer was made;
  • the employee being made the offer:
    • if the offer was accepted – record the individual’s position title and branch (e.g. Director, Safety and Culture);
    • if the offer was declined – record only their position title (e.g. Director);
  • the individual or organisation making the offer:
    • if the offer was accepted – record the organisation’s name and the individual’s position title (e.g. Director, Oz Sports);
    • if the offer was declined – use a generic description for the type of organisation/person who made the offer (e.g. Sports Association);
  • the nature of the offer and its estimated or actual value;
  • if the offer was accepted or declined; and
  • the decision on ownership of the offer.

In public registers, it is sufficient to record position titles instead of individual names. In some cases a position title may still identify the person who made the offer or the recipient (e.g. Secretary), but this is not sufficient reason to not publish the title. Offers made by members of the public or clients of a public sector organisation, should not be individually identified other than as a member of one of these groups.

For declined offers, a generic description of the type of organisation that made the offer is sufficient (e.g. the generic term ‘sport association’ should be used instead of the specific name). Organisations are not required to record offers of ceremonial gifts on their public register, but this information should be recorded on the organisation’s register.

Figures 3 and 4 provide examples of how accepted and declined offers should be recorded on the public register.

Figure 3. Example of an accepted offer on the public register

Date Recipient Donor Offer Estimated or actual value Decision Ownership
5/8/2018 Director, Safety and Culture Director, Oz Sports iPad $250 (est) Accepted Transferred to organisation

 

Figure 4. Example of a declined offer on the public register

Date Recipient Donor Offer Estimated or actual value Decision Ownership
5/8/2018 Director Sport Association iPad $250 (est) Declined Returned to organisation that provided the offer

7.2 Recording the provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality

The public has a right to access documents relating to the provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Public sector organisations have recording obligations that help to ensure transparency and accountability. These include record keeping obligations under the Public Records Act 1973, and obligations arising from the Financial Management Act 1994 to ensure that public funds are appropriately authorised and incurred in accordance with business needs, and captured in the financial records.

At a minimum, your organisation should ensure that records relating to the provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality (e.g. approval forms, expense records, procurement documentation) can readily be accessed to comply with reporting requests and requirements. In addition, it is good practice to consider how any business intelligence gained through recording the provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality is documented and shared across the organisation.