The Department of the Senate
The Department of the Senate has existed since 1901 but is now established under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, and provides the Senate, its committees, the President of the Senate and senators with a broad range of advisory and support services, to enable the performance of the constitutional role of the Senate. These services include procedural advice, legislative drafting, secretariats for committees, programming and documentation support for the chamber, the processing of legislation and other documents, research and education, and administrative support.
Staff of the department are employed under the Parliamentary Service Act. The department and its officers serve equally senators from all political parties and independent senators. Many staff have a high level of individual and direct responsibility to senators.
The Department is administered by a senior executive consisting of the Deputy Clerk, three Clerks Assistant and the Usher of the Black Rod. The Deputy Clerk supports and deputises for the Clerk, has various corporate governance responsibilities and is responsible for information management and inter-parliamentary relations on behalf of the department. Each Clerk Assistant and the Usher of the Black Rod is responsible for the efficient management of an office of the department.
The Senate Department receives its funding through the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Acts, is accountable to the Senate through the President of the Senate, and is subject to scrutiny by the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing (see below) and the Finance and Public Administration Committee which also considers its estimates. It is also subject to examination annually by the Auditor-General, and continuously throughout the year by a contract internal auditor. Apart from legislation which establishes the special nature of the parliamentary service, such as the Parliamentary Service Act and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act, the department operates within the same legislative framework as executive departments.