Opinion Number. 519

Subject

FINANCE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH CERTIFYING OFFICERS CERTIFICATE ACCEPTABLE AS CERTIFICATE BY PERSON INCURRING EXPENSE

Key Legislation

AUDIT ACT 1901-1912, s. 34

Date
Client
The Auditor-General

The Auditor-General has asked for my opinion upon the question whether he is justified in accepting the signature of the Certifying Officer provided for upon Contin-gencies Account Forms (Form 9 under the Treasury Regulations) as sufficient to cover the certificate of the person incurring the expense, or whether both certificates should be signed as provided in sections 34 (1) and 34 (5) of the Audit Act 1901-1912.

Sections 34 (1) and (5) are as follow:

34.-(1) No accounting officer shall pay any account unless he shall have been author-ised so to do by some person appointed by the Governor-General for that purpose and un-less such account shall have been duly certified as correct by some person appointed by the Governor-General for that purpose.

Provided that the Treasurer may permit the payment of any account before it has been certified if the same has been checked by a responsible officer, and if he is satisfied that undue delay in the payment of the account would be caused if it had to be certified before payment.

(5) The correctness of every account in regard to computations castings rates of charge and the faithful performance of the services charged shall be certified by the person incur-ring the expense.

The certificate of the person incurring the expense, provided for by the Treasury Regulations with regard to Form 9, is a certificate 'that the account is correct as re-gards computations castings rates of charge and the faithful performance of the ser-vices charged'. The certificate of the Certifying Officer upon the same form is that the account 'is correct within the meaning of section 34 of the Audit Act 1901'.

Where the Certifying Officer is in fact the person incurring the expense, his cer-tificate that the account is correct within the meaning of section 34 is in my opinion a sufficient compliance with the Act. In that case, an intimation that he is also the person incurring the expense should appear upon the voucher.

In cases, however, where the Certifying Officer is not in fact the person incurring the expense, I am of opinion that, having in view the definite wording of sub-section (5) of section 34, the Auditor-General would not be justified in accepting the certificate of the Certifying Officer as sufficient to cover the certificate of the person incurring the expense.(1)

[Vol. 11, p. 433]

(1)This Opinion was published in Commonwealth of Australia,Parl. Papers 1914-1917, Vol. III,p.1311.