Sensitive expenditure is any spending by an organisation that could be seen to be giving private benefit to a staff member, their family or friends. It risks harming an organisation’s reputation and the public sector more generally if spending could lead to concerns that it’s inappropriate or without a legitimate business reason. Issues concerning sensitive expenditure can arise regardless of how much money is spent. Even a small amount can raise concerns if it appears to be improper. All public servants need to ensure any expenditure decisions they’re making can withstand both parliamentary and public scrutiny.

The Office of the Auditor-General provides guidance for making sensitive expenditure decisions. This guidance outlines the considerations and principles all public servants should have in mind when making expenditure decisions.

Controlling sensitive expenditure: Guide for public organisations - Office of the Auditor-General