Cabinet Office comments and Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) costing comments must be provided on all submissions that go to Cabinet (with the exception of appointment submissions). Formal comments are not provided on appointment submissions although Cabinet Office provides informal review. Comments are also not provided on Cabinet notes.

Cabinet Office comments and DTF costing comments are a formal part of the submission process and it is recommended that authors engage early with both DTF and Cabinet Office, particularly if it is expected that proposals may be controversial or have significant costs.

The Cabinet Office comment will not be issued for items that are not listed on the Cabinet forward agenda.

Cabinet Office comment

The Cabinet Office comment stage is an early opportunity to identify potential policy and strategic issues with a proposal rather than waiting until items are lodged for Cabinet. It helps ensure the impacts of proposals have been thoroughly considered and the proposal has been well consulted. Cabinet Office adds value by applying a whole of government lens to proposals to help agencies align with the government’s strategic direction and priorities.

The goals of the Cabinet Office comment process are to:

  • improve quality of submissions so that complex matters are presented in a way that ministers and agencies outside of the portfolio can understand and reasonably digest. Quality can be measured both in terms of style/process and strategy – that is, improved awareness of, or alignment to, the government’s agenda.
  • ensure all critical issues in the submission are dealt with and Cabinet has all of the information it needs to make a decision, so that discussions in Cabinet and/or Cabinet committees can be lifted to key strategic matters.

As part of the Cabinet Office commenting process, Cabinet Office will circulate draft submissions to other government agencies that may have an interest or view, to seek their early feedback and identify any critical issues. Cabinet Office will work with the submission’s author on any planned circulation. Items that are intended to be ‘locked’ will not be circulated to agencies.

The Cabinet Office comment will not be issued for items that are not listed on the Cabinet forward agenda (see Lodging a Cabinet paper).

A copy of the Cabinet Office comment must be provided with the submission when it is lodged and it will identify whether the submission is ready for Cabinet consideration.

DTF costing comment

The DTF costing comment stage is the opportunity for DTF to confirm that the cost of proposals detailed in a submission are accurate and comment on the reasonableness of the costs.

The costing comment will look at the methodology applied in reaching the conclusions about the costs of proposals. It will clearly state whether all reasonable alternatives have been considered and discussed adequately in the submission (see financial expenditure) and whether the proposal needs to be addressed outside of the budget process.

The DTF costing comment will also indicate whether the submission needs to be referred to the Budget Cabinet Committee (BCC) before going to Cabinet and whether it is ready for consideration by BCC or Cabinet.

A copy of the costing comment must be provided with the Cabinet submission when it is lodged and the submission must include a statement that:

The Department of Treasury and Finance agrees with the assessment of costs in this submission; see attached costing comment.