Victorian Government Sponsorship Policy: Principles (Ensuring Probity)


Introduction, Application and Definitions
Relevant Legislation and Policies
Principles: Ensuring Probity
Principles: Achieving Efficiency and Effectiveness
Principles: Ensuring Accountability
Principles: Implementing Effective Risk Management


Ensuring Probity

Appropriate Activity

Victorian Government agencies should aim to achieve the highest levels of confidence in their ability to act in the public interest by restricting sponsorship to appropriate activity of Government.

'Appropriate activity' is Government activity in which the introduction of a commercial sponsor would not reasonably be seen to compromise the public interest, or affect the agency's ability to perform its duties impartially.

Agencies need to be aware that while effective sponsorship arrangements can bring many benefits, they can also increase reputational and conflict-of-interest risks in certain circumstances, particularly if the agency has a regulatory or inspectorial role. Therefore:

  • Agencies should specify in their sponsorship procedures any classes of activity or organisation that are deemed inappropriate for sponsorship.

  • In general, sponsorship should be confined to value-adding and supplementary activities, such as events and program support, rather than for delivery or replacement of core government services.

  • Agencies should not provide sponsorship for purposes unrelated to Government priorities or agency objectives.

  • Agencies should not provide sponsorship to individuals or political parties.

  • Agencies should not provide sponsorship to organisations if the sponsorship fee will be passed on to a third party in the form of a sponsorship or grant.

Open and Effective Competition

Open and effective competition requires that opportunities to sponsor Victorian Government activities be offered to an appropriately broad field of potential sponsors.

Sponsorship procedures should be transparent, provide potential sponsors with a genuine opportunity to do business with government and where possible, ensure competition among sponsors to provide 'value for money' offers.

In determining whether to publicly advertise a sponsorship opportunity, consideration should be given to the following factors:

  • the value of the opportunity
  • the possible forms the sponsorship could take
  • the number of competitors in the market
  • potential negative impacts of advertising on existing sponsorship agreements, or on existing offers
  • timelines

Where it is deemed inappropriate to publicly advertise a sponsorship opportunity, agencies may consider making a direct approach to a number of potential sponsors. In those cases, the rationale for the decision should be documented, and the size of the field should reflect the scale of the sponsorship.

In circumstances where an external organisation submits an unsolicited proposal to Government expressing interest in sponsoring a program or activity, consideration should be given to:

  • whether the proposal is relevant to Government or agency interests; if so,
  • whether the proposal could provide better results for Government if implemented by another party; if so
  • whether it is feasible to call for expressions of interest or tender for the right to be a sponsor. This will involve consideration of whether the original proposal contains commercial-in-confidence material, or ideas in which the proposer holds intellectual property rights. In many instances, this will be the case, and further canvassing of external interest will not be appropriate.

Where a competitive process is undertaken, selection criteria should be established and used to select the successful respondent.

It should be noted that while open and effective competition is required when agencies are seeking sponsorship for Government initiatives, agencies are not required to promote competition between organisations seeking to become recipients of Government sponsorship. Nonetheless, an analysis of competing alternatives and reasons for selecting the successful sponsorship recipient should be completed and documented.

Ethical Behaviour and Fair Dealing

The sponsorship activities of Victorian Government agencies will demonstrate high standards of ethical behaviour and fair dealing.

Officers involved in sponsorship management or decision making must maintain high levels of integrity in all official dealings including:

  • disclosure and resolution of conflicts of interest
  • refusal of gifts, invitations to events and functions, or other favours
  • receiving approaches from organisations that might be interpreted as attempts to obtain influence or advantage
  • maintenance of confidentiality in respect to commercial-in-confidence, intellectual property issues, matters under negotiation and any other confidential information
  • maintenance of high standards of accountability

The Codes of Conduct for the Victorian Public Sector and any other directions issuing from the Victorian Public Sector Commission or agency management should be consulted in respect to these and other matters of ethical behaviour and fair dealing. Breaches of ethical standards can lead to disciplinary action or dismissal.

Agencies must ensure that sponsorship arrangements do not include, or allow, the provision of private benefits, either to the parties to the arrangements or to third parties, except as permitted by the Code of Conduct or other Victorian Public Sector Commissions directions.

Agencies should ensure that their sponsorship procedures appropriately separate the duties of appraiser of applications, approval of offers and payment of benefits.

The independence of an agency's purchasing and sponsorship activities must be maintained by not allowing decisions in relation to one to influence decision making in respect of the other.

Agencies with regulatory or inspectorial responsibilities

  • Government agencies with regulatory or inspectorial responsibilities should be particularly alert to the risks associated with providing or accepting sponsorship from external bodies that are, or are likely to be, subject to regulation or inspection during the term of the sponsorship agreement. Sponsorship agreements should enable sponsorships to be terminated or suspended should agency sponsorship and regulatory interests conflict.
  • The agency should have a policy and procedures in place to ensure it carries out its functions in regard to such external bodies in a fair, accountable and impartial manner. At a minimum, the agency should ensure that the people or division involved in the sponsorship arrangement, have no involvement in the regulation or inspection of the external body, or in general.
  • Agencies involved in sponsorship activities should also have procedures in place in the event that a sponsor or sponsorship recipient becomes subject to the agency’s regulation or inspection while the sponsorship arrangement is in effect. The procedures should ensure the agency carries out its functions in regard to this body in a fair, accountable, open and impartial manner. To the extent possible, the agency should describe these strategies in its sponsorship policy.
  • All parties should understand clearly that the sponsorship arrangement has no bearing on the agency’s exercise of its regulatory or inspectorial functions. This should be clearly stated and acknowledged in all documentation including the sponsorship agreement and the agency website.
  • Refund or replacement arrangements if either party is unable to fulfil its obligations should be a provision in the sponsorship agreement.
  • Termination clauses that specify the events that could lead to termination should also be included in sponsorship agreements, such as any action by the sponsored organisation that results in public criticism/negative publicity that reflects badly on the agency or brings its probity into question.
  • Disclosure of the names or addresses of employees, groups or organisations held by or associated with agencies is governed by the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and must not be provided to external organisations as a benefit of sponsorship.

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Last updated on Monday, 05 November 2018