Sensitive Expenditure Policy


This policy applies to all University members.


To inform members of the University’s position and procedures relating to sensitive expenditure.


All public organisations spend public money. Public money is not the property of people in the organisation (including members, office holders, managers, and staff members) to spend at their sole discretion. Consequently, all University expenditure has to be subject to the high standards of probity and financial prudence expected of a public organisation, and able to withstand parliamentary and public scrutiny.

The University has a wide group of policies which support the principles and rules for managing expenditure that may be deemed sensitive. The related policies are listed under the Key Relevant Documents section.


1. All sensitive expenditure must be subject to a proper prior assessment and one over one control.

2. The assessment must:

  • be subject to high standards of probity and financial prudence
  • be able to withstand audit and public scrutiny
  • have a justifiable business purpose only and not provide private benefit to an individual member
  • be with integrity and be made in a sound and defensible manner
    preserve impartiality
  • be moderate and conservative, having regard to the circumstances
  • be transparent
  • be made with proper authority
  • be appropriate in all respects

3. Sensitive expenditure must only be approved when:

  • the person approving the expenditure is satisfied that it is for a justifiable business purpose that is consistent with the University’s objectives and all of the principles discussed in section one have been adequately met;
  • approval is given before the expenditure is incurred, unless it is for small amounts (for example, taxi fares) and allowed in the University’s policies;
  • the expenditure will be within budget and where delegated authority exists
  • approval is given by a person who is senior to the person who will benefit (or might be perceived to benefit) from the sensitive expenditure; and

4. The process of authorising sensitive expenditure, cannot override any of the other University policies.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Members includes members of Council, committee members, staff members, committee appointees, the University’s companies’ staff members and board members and contractors working for and on behalf of the University.

One over one is the principle that expenditure must be approved by a person at a higher level in the organisational chart than the level of the person incurring the expenditure (eg line manager). Staff members cannot approve their own expenditure or those of their peers.

Sensitive expenditure is any expenditure by an organisation

  • That could be seen to be giving private benefit to a staff member, their family or friends
  • Which, by its nature may harm the reputation of and trust in the University and the public sector more generally, whatever the dollar value
  • That is highly controversial or considered unusual for the University’s purpose and/or functions.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Chief Financial Officer
Content manager: Head of Financial Operations
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: 31 December 2021
Review date: 31 December 2026