The Recurrent Expenditure Assurance Framework (REAF) is established under NSW Treasury’s Gateway Policy. It is approved by the NSW Government and applies to major recurrent projects and programs being undertaken by agencies. 

The objective of the REAF is to ensure the Government’s key recurrent projects and programs across NSW are delivered on time and on budget by implementing this risk based external assurance framework. The REAF will also ensure that the NSW Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) is supported by effective tools to monitor the NSW Government’s major new policy proposals, receive early warning of any emerging issues and act proactively to increase project success.

The REAF provides independent advice and assurance to an agency’s existing internal project delivery processes and post-project implementation is complemented by the NSW Government’s Program Evaluation processes.

 

What is a recurrent expenditure proposal?

A recurrent expenditure for the purposes of this framework can simply be thought of as an expenditure that is predominantly neither a capital infrastructure nor an ICT investment. Recurrent expenditure include:

  • Implementation of a new policy/program
  • Significant amendment/upgrade to an existing policy/program
  • Outsourcing a service
  • Like to like renewal of an existing policy or service that is due to lapse (no change in scope)
  • Re-tender of existing services
  • Creation of a new public entity (or new business unit within a public entity) with resource or regulatory cost implications
  • Creation of a new government service with resource or regulatory cost implications
  • Significant (non-routine) maintenance-for example, to address a large maintenance backlog
  • Expenditure to enhance/extend agency capability
  • Grants
  • Developing a strategy
  • Conducting a government research program
  • Responding to regulatory or legislative change

 

What is recurrent expenditure assurance? 

Recurrent expenditure assurance is a process that requires recurrent proposals above a specific threshold (see below) to be assessed for risk and undergo a series of external assurance (or Gateway  reviews) at key milestones or Gates. 

Figure 1 - Recurrent Expenditure Assurance Framework on a page

Recurrent Expenditure Assurance Framework on one page

 

When does the REAF apply?

The REAF applies when the value of recurrent spends being proposed by general government agencies or government businesses meet the following criteria: 

  • the value of the proposal (project or program) is greater than or equal to $100 million in ETC over four years or $50 million in any one year, 
    or
  • the proposal is of lower value but it is nominated by ERC, an Agency or by NSW Treasury.

For State Owned Corporations (SOCs), the Major Projects Policy for Government Businesses, [TPP 18-05], sets out the circumstances in which the REAF applies to SOCs. SOCs are required to notify Treasury and the relevant minister of all projects being considered over the next few years based on thresholds set out in TPP 18-05. This includes Recurrent expenditure. There is no requirement for SOCs to register projects under the REAF. However, the relevant minister may refer any project being delivered by a SOC to Treasury for assurance under the REAF. For more information refer to TPP 18-05.

 

How does the REAF work?

The REAF process can be summarised as follows:

  1. Agencies review and identify recurrent proposals meeting the REAF thresholds; or ERC, Treasury or the Agency nominates the proposal to be registered and risk assessed. 
  2. Agencies can complete a risk self-assessment of the proposal using the REAF Risk Assessment Tool.
  3. Agencies submit a project registration via the Whole of Government Assurance Portal. For information on the Portal, please contact the Portal team at [email protected]
    New Portal users, registering projects under the REAF, please contact [email protected] to arrange access to the  Portal.
  4. Agencies propose an assurance plan based on the self-assessed risk tier outlining how many, and at what stages in its life cycle, external peer reviews are to be conducted for the project or program.
  5. The Major Recurrent Advisory Group (MRAG) reviews and endorses the risk self-assessment and the external assurance plan for the projects or programs.
  6. Treasury’s Gateway Team works with agencies to implement the MRAG endorsed assurance plan 
  7. Review teams conduct Gateway reviews in accordance with the approved assurance plan using the Gateway Review workbooks to guide their reviews.
  8. Agencies receive Review Team reports and respond to recommendations to improve their chances of successfully achieving targeted outcomes.

 

What is the Major Recurrent Advisory Group?

The purpose of the Major Recurrent Advisory Group (MRAG) is to:

  • provide high-level advice to NSW Treasury on proposed Project Tier and Project Assurance Plans provided by delivery agencies and reviewed by the Treasury Gateway Team
  • review the effectiveness of the REAF annually
  • provide advice to Treasury on the operation of the REAF and the outcomes of Gateway Reviews.

The MRAG has senior executive members drawn from across the sector. It is chaired by NSW Treasury.

 

How is project risk assessed?

Project risk is assessed using the registration form in the Whole of Government Assurance Portal. Agencies can also use the REAF Risk Assessment Tool (Excel File) as a help tool for information and guidance. It classifies projects and programs into four (4) tiers based on the project estimated total cost (ETC) and a weighted score. The score is based on a weighted five-point scale of ratings on the following six criteria:

  • Government Priority 15%
  • Interface Complexity 15%
  • Procurement complexity 20%
  • Agency Capability 20%
  • Criticality of Service 15%
  • Implementation Complexity 15%

 

Frequently Asked Questions

If a project or program is one of the following, it would be considered a recurrent expenditure:

  • Implementation of a new Policy/Program
  • Significant amendment/upgrade to an existing Policy/Program
  • Outsourcing a service
  • Like to like renewal of an existing policy or service that is due to lapse (no change in scope)
  • Re-tender of existing services
  • Creation of a new public entity (or new business unit within a public entity) with resource or regulatory cost implications
  • The creation of a new government service with resource or regulatory cost implications
  • A significant (non-routine) maintenance-for example, to address a large maintenance backlog
  • An expenditure to enhance/extend agency capability
  • Grant programs

If the recurrent expenditure meets the thresholds in the Recurrent Expenditure Assurance Framework, it needs to be registered and risk assessed using the Registration and Risk Assessment Tool available on the Treasury website.

For General Government entities and government businesses, recurrent expenditure must be registered and risk assessed under the REAF if they:

  • have an ETC of greater than $100 million over 4 years or $50 million in any one year,
    or
  • are nominated by ERC, Treasury or the agency.

For State Owned Corporations (SOCs), the Major Projects Policy for Government Businesses, [TPP 18-05], sets out the circumstances in which the REAF applies to SOCs. SOCs are required to notify Treasury and the relevant minister of all projects being considered over the next few years based on thresholds set out in TPP 18-05. This includes Recurrent expenditures. There is no requirement for SOCs to register projects under the REAF. However, the relevant minister may refer any project being delivered by a SOC to Treasury for assurance under the REAF. For more information refer to TPP 18-05.

No. There is no requirement for reviews to be retrospective.

In flight projects or programs that are in implementation stage should still be registered via the Whole of Government Assurance Portal. For information on the Portal, please contact the Portal team at [email protected]. New Portal users, registering projects under the REAF, please contact [email protected] to arrange access to the Portal.

A customised assurance plan (depending upon the risk level and the project stage) can be proposed in discussion with the Treasury Gateway Team and implemented after endorsement by the Major Recurrent Advisory Group. (The Major Recurrent Advisory Group - with senior executive membership drawn from across the sector-reviews and endorses the self - assessment and an external assurance plan for Tier 1, 2 and 3 projects or programs). Depending upon the circumstances there could some or no external review requirements.

Review teams use documents provided by the agency and a series of stakeholder interviews to formulate their review report and recommendation. It is not intended that agencies create documentation for the sake of reviews. Instead, it is expected that existing documentation (which may vary in name or form from the documents listed in the generic Gateway Review workbooks) but which provide relevant information will be used.

Three Gateway Coordination Authorities (GCAs) were established by the NSW Gateway Policy (TPP 17-01):

  • INSW for capital infrastructure investments
  • DCS for ICT investments
  • Treasury for recurrent expenditure

Each GCA has a framework that requires projects that fall within scope to be registered and risk assessed.  It should generally be clear which GCA framework is applicable for a particular expenditure. However, in the case of an investment or expenditure with capital, ICT and recurrent elements, materiality will determine under which framework the investment or expenditure should be registered.

If there is any doubt, NSW Treasury may be approached as the Policy Owner for a determination.

The REAF does not envisage any special or additional project or program reporting. Normal reporting practices will apply.

 No. Machinery of Government changes (MoG) are out of scope.

Yes. The contracts have to be registered if they fall within the scope of the REAF and meet the thresholds. However registration in itself does not mean there will need to be external Gateway reviews unless the risk assessment suggests that there is value to the Government as investor in external peer reviews.

It is anticipated that only a fraction of registered projects will undergo external Gateway reviews.

Please email the Treasury Gateway team [email protected]

Last updated: 04/02/2021