Part 2—Departmental overview

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Part 2—Departmental overview


The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) is one of three departments which comprise the Parliamentary Service, the other two being the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives.

The Secretary, reporting to the Presiding Officers of the Parliament (the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives), is responsible for managing DPS and providing advice to the Presiding Officers on matters relating to DPS.

Departmental outcome statement

The Presiding Officers have approved the following Outcome statement for DPS:

Occupants of Parliament House are supported by integrated services and facilities, Parliament functions effectively and its work and building are accessible to the public.

Departmental structure

DPS has an Executive and eight branches, as illustrated in our organisational chart provided at Figure 1.

Our organisational structure is referred to as a Plan/Build/Run model. Work units are grouped according to whether they contribute predominantly to business planning, capability development/capital investment or operational service delivery.

Supporting the business model are our core business principles of continuous improvement, seamless service delivery and accountability. Specifically, the organisational structure is designed to improve management decision-making, increase transparency and accountability, more effectively allocate resources, better interact with clients and customers to meet their needs and enhance our overall performance.

The Secretary is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the principal officer of the department's leadership team. Executive officers reporting directly to the Secretary are the Parliamentary Librarian, the Deputy Secretary and the Chief Finance Officer (CFO).

The office of Parliamentary Librarian is a statutory one created by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 (the Act). The Parliamentary Librarian reports to the Presiding Officers in respect of statutory functions detailed in the Act. However, for the exercise of normal management functions, including as detailed in the Act and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Parliamentary Librarian reports to the Secretary.

The Parliamentary Librarian is responsible for the Research Branch and the Information Access Branch. Under the Act the Parliamentary Librarian is required to prepare an annual report to the Presiding Officers. The Parliamentary Librarian's annual report is included at Part 3 of this document.

The Deputy Secretary is responsible for the activities of five branches (Strategy and Business Services[1], Building Services, Infrastructure Services, Content Management and Product and Service Development).

The CFO is responsible for the activities of the Chief Finance Officer Branch.

Each branch within DPS is headed by an Assistant Secretary and is divided into sections. The roles and responsibilities of each branch and their achievements and highlights for the 2008-09 year are described further in Departmental services (see Departmental Services).

Figure 1—DPS Departmental Structure at 30 June 2009 (Click on the image to view a higher resolution version):

DPS Organisational

Departmental services

The services we provide are broad-ranging, encompassing the management, maintenance and provision of information, security, facilities, visitor, building, maintenance, landscaping, IT network, telecommunications, broadcasting and Hansard services. Details of the many services provided by DPS are contained in the DPS Services Catalogue, available on our web site at The work of each branch and their achievements and highlights for the 2008-09 year are described below.

Parliamentary Library

The Parliamentary Library provides information, analysis and advice to the Parliament and comprises the Office of the Parliamentary Librarian and two branches, the Research Branch and the Information Access Branch.

More detail on the role, functions and services provided by the Parliamentary Library can be found in Part 3 of this report.

Building Services Branch

The Building Services Branch (BSB) delivers a range of services to occupants of and visitors to Parliament House. These include security and emergency services, facilities management, retail services, health and wellbeing services, and guide services. BSB also manages a contract with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for the provision of security within the Parliamentary Precincts.

The protection portfolio of the Australian Federal Police-Uniform Protection (AFP-UP)—is contracted to deal with security incidents within the precinct and provide an armed first response capability for Parliament House. The AFP-UP also provides security services for the Prime Minister's Suite and the Cabinet Suite. The AFP officerincharge undertakes the role of Parliament House Protective Security Controller (PHPSC).

Of our two security sections, Security Operations provides operational security and emergency services largely through Parliamentary Security Service (PSS) officers, while Security Planning and Administration does workforce planning functions for the PSS, security training, administration of security systems, management of keys and locks, as well as overseeing the pass office and the PSS roster office.

The PSS officers—who are DPS employees—provide access control and security screening at all entrance points, a mobile and static security presence throughout Parliament House, and security services to functions, official visits and other significant activities within Parliament House. The PSS provides an unarmed first response capability to security incidents and duress alarms within the building, as well as providing an initial first aid service.

Both security sections and the PHPSC contribute to the development of security policy, and to the implementation of security and emergency policy, procedures and response protocols for Parliament House.

The Facilities section administers the Presiding Officers' policies on the use of Parliament House facilities by building occupants and members of the public. Responsibilities include managing the contracts for various commercial activities such as catering, child care, post office and bank, providing a range of visitor services (including guided tours for building visitors and school groups) as well as operating the Parliament Shop. It also manages the Nurses Centre, which provides first aid and a limited range of other health services to building occupants, and the Health and Recreation Centre, with facilities that include a gymnasium, squash courts, tennis courts, a multipurpose netball court, a swimming pool, and external playing fields.

BSB highlights and achievements

Of significant interest to building occupants, and the public, was the opening of the Capital Hill Early Childhood Centre in February 2009. The success of the child care centre project is explored further in the case study on page 22.

Facilities Management successfully transitioned two new catering contractors into Parliament House from 1 July 2008. The two contracts cover a range of catering services including: Queen's Terrace Café, the Staff Dining Room, Members' Guests Dining Room, functions in the Great Hall and room service. Improved administrative arrangements were incorporated into the contracts, particularly in gathering and responding to customer feedback.

We have also begun reviewing the licensing arrangements for the provision of commercial services and tenancies within Parliament House as they are due for renewal. These reviews incorporate a more commercial management approach to each licensing arrangement. Some reviews were completed in 2008-09, and the remainder should be finished in 2009-10.

A comprehensive restructure of the security and facilities components of BSB was completed during the 2008-09 year, resulting in a number of administration and process changes which are improving our efficiency and financial sustainability.

A notable achievement of the Health and Recreation Centre was the conversion of two under-utilised tennis courts into a multi-purpose court. The change in purpose will provide building occupants with enhanced opportunities to engage in a broader range of sports activities, including netball and basketball.

During 2008-09 we also developed the Security Action Plan, which outlines priorities for future security infrastructure investment. The Security Action Plan complements the Parliament House Security Strategic Plan 2009-2014, which was also approved during the reporting year. We are very proud of our rigorous approach to constant testing of our security arrangements, and 24 security validation exercises were conducted over the reporting period.

A review of security arrangements at Parliament House by the Attorney-General's Department commenced in March 2009. The final report is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2009-10. The recommendations of the review will have an impact on both the Security Action Plan and the Security Strategic Plan.

Infrastructure Services Branch

Looking after the building and the utility and IT systems of Parliament House is the Infrastructure Services Branch (ISB). ISB provides day-to-day support to building occupants and visitors through a number of teams.

The first of these, Maintenance Services section, operates and maintains the power, airconditioning and hydraulic services of the building as well as maintaining the exterior & interior of the building.The section also maintains engineering drawings and the technical manual library as well as Parliament House's landscape.

Our Client Support section looks after customers who use IT, broadcasting and Hansard services. As well, it provides IT training and assistance, most commonly through the Client Support 2020 help desk. There are almost 4,800 registered IT users in Parliament House and electorate offices. Responsibility for second line software and hardware support for desktop and mobile computing devices, printers, televisions and pagers is also the responsibility of this section. Over the last 12 months, Client Support has taken over responsibility for office ICT purchasing and asset management.

Computing Services section takes care of the central computer facilities such as computer rooms, server and storage hardware, system and data backup and restoration, database, application and web site support, software deployment to workstations and notebooks, IT change control, ICT security operations and computer account management. The Information Technology Security Adviser (ITSA) role assists the chamber departments with their ITSA functions and manages IT security generally.

The Communication Networks section provides data and voice communications services to building occupants. This involves managing data network services such as connection from the desktop to the network servers, internet and connections to electorate offices. The section also manages voice communications services including fixed line telephones and mobile phone coverage within Parliament House.

Broadcasting Infrastructure and Support provides day-to-day and strategic direction for the maintenance of broadcast assets. This includes technical and maintenance support for the Parliament's broadcasting systems including television and radio production facilities, audio and video recording, public address systems for chambers and committee rooms, the internal multi-channel radio and television system, internet broadcasting, Emergency Warning and Intercommunication System (EWIS), division bells and lights and portable recording equipment for interstate committees.

ISB highlights and achievements

We are heavily involved in improving environmental and sustainability outcomes for Parliament House. Of particular concern has been continuing water restrictions applying in the ACT. A key action to reduce our water consumption has been trials of various grass species that need less water. Based on a number of earlier small trials, two varieties of couch grass were selected for further trials on a larger scale in 2008-09. The larger scale trials were conducted on the Senate playing field and the viewing strip directly north of the field. Lessons learnt from these larger trials will be used to explore the potential for expanding the use of couch grass across the broader parliamentary landscape.

In 2008, DPS agreed to participate in the Whole of Government approach to the electricity market to negotiate a new electricity contract. Under the new contract, DPS is purchasing a total 25% of green energy, 15% more than the contract-stipulated minimum of 10%. Energy consumption and emissions are covered in more detail in Part 5 of this report.

We conducted an audit of Hearing Loop systems installed in a number of areas at Parliament House. The audit confirmed our compliance with current Australian building and OHS hearing standards, and has provided valuable information for use in improving facilities for the hearing impaired.

To replace the aging Mobile Messaging System (MMS), in conjunction with the Department of Finance and Deregulation we commenced a pilot of BlackBerry technology in January 2009. The successful piloting of the BlackBerries allowed us, from May 2009, to commence a program of replacing Senators' and Members' MMS phones as they reached their end-of-life. The project should be completed in 2009-10, and will mean Senators and Members are provided with modern personal electronic devices that deliver better services and reliability.

We implemented several major IT systems during 2008-09 including ParlInfo Search, a new intranet (DPS Staff Portal), and the piloting of the Windows Vista operating environment. Between July and December 2008, Parliament House and electorate offices were upgraded to Microsoft Office 2007, with Client Support providing training, information sessions and support from July 2008. Online self help for users of the Parliamentary Computing Network (PCN) was also implemented during the year.

We installed new spam management software during the year, with greatly improved spam management functionality for all PCN users. What had been several hundred spam messages daily came down to less than 10 on most days.

With a large number of new IT system installations occurring over 2008-09, including during parliamentary sitting periods, ISB is very proud of the high levels of system availability achieved during the year. The result reflects the time and effort we have invested in planning and maintenance scheduling.

Content Management Branch

Content Management Branch (CMB) is responsible for broadcasting and archiving the audio-visual record of chamber and committee proceedings and for producing the Hansard record. CMB also coordinates the management of DPS records and knowledge.

Broadcasting Content section produces and distributes live audio and video coverage of all proceedings of the two chambers and the Main Committee of the House of Representatives. It televises selected parliamentary committee proceedings in Parliament House, provides audio coverage of hearings held in other venues around Australia and a public address system for these venues, as well as systems for the hearing-impaired in many locations within Parliament House. The proceedings are broadcast internally and also webcast via the internet.

Our Hansard section transcribes and prepares for publishing reports of proceedings in both Houses of Parliament and the Main Committee of the House of Representatives as well as all parliamentary committee hearings.

The Knowledge Management section is responsible for the document and records management of DPS, ensuring DPS complies with the Archives Act 1983, with audit recommendations for records management and with Commonwealth Intellectual Property Principles.

During 2008-09, the Knowledge Management section amalgamated with the Web Content section and now also has responsibility for developing and disseminating policy and guidelines to ensure compliance with web content legislation and best practice.

CMB highlights and achievements

2008-09 saw substantial increases in parliamentary workload which had a direct impact on Hansard and broadcasting services. Parliamentary committee workload has doubled since 2007. There was also a noticeable increase in the number of requests for 24 hour turnaround on transcripts for committee jobs, often during already busy sitting weeks. Absorbing the additional workload within existing resources has been challenging, and we are particularly proud of having met our customers' needs during this very busy time.

With the demanding combination of increased workload and budgetary constraint, we have investigated ways to streamline our work practices and processes. For example, for interstate parliamentary committee hearings the longstanding practice was to send both a Hansard officer and a broadcasting officer to support the committee's work. In 2008-09 we commenced a trial of single officer support, by sending only the broadcasting staff member. In addition to capturing an audio record of the proceedings the broadcasting officer now also records the voice log used to assist subsequent transcription from the audio record. Results so far are very promising and suggest the possibility of significantly reduced travel costs involved in providing the service, as well as increasing resources available in Parliament House for transcription of committee hearings.

The above is but one example of the kind of smarter, leaner, Broadcasting and Hansard services that CMB has delivered during 2008-09.

During the year, our Knowledge Management section commenced a phased implementation of DPS's new Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS). The EDRMS allows our staff to capture and electronically file corporate documents and records, including emails. Nearly 15 per cent of staff have been trained to use the EDRMS, and training will continue throughout 2009-10. Implementing the EDRMS has significantly increased our ability to find and retrieve information, avoid duplication and ensure recordkeeping compliance. It also has environmental benefits, as fewer paper files are being created. A gradual decrease in the number of physical records requiring storage is expected.

During 2008-09 we embarked on a project to transfer Parliament House Construction Authority (PHCA) records to the National Archives. The PHCA records comprise drawings and plans of Parliament House, plus details of all the contract and building works relating to the building's construction. The project required DPS to assess the records, sentence them, and take action accordingly under the DPS Records Authority. The transfer of these nationally important records to the National Archives ensures their survival for future generations.

Finally, work commenced on a project to modernise our video and audio equipment and records. The project will replace existing equipment with a server-based video and audio information capture, storage and replay system, and includes transferring old video and audio broadcasting records from tape-based media to digital formats. The project will allow us to streamline some of our broadcasting operations and provide additional online services.

Product and Service Development Branch

The Product and Service Development Branch (PSDB) is responsible for the management and delivery of projects within DPS. PSDB also manages the Parliament House Art Collection.

The Building and Security Projects section is responsible for managing the delivery of building, engineering and security projects related to refurbishment, modification, upgrade, replacement or new works in Parliament House and the Parliamentary Precincts.

The Technology Projects section manages the delivery of projects related to the installation and implementation of IT, broadcasting, communication and security technology systems and infrastructure.

The Project Management Office is responsible for ensuring all projects are undertaken using a consistent project management methodology, including providing project management guidance and support to all project stakeholders and providing performance reporting on project progress.

Finally, the Art Services section manages the Parliament House Art Collection, with responsibilities including artwork acquisitions, collection conservation and managing access to artworks for display in Parliament House and the Parliamentary Precincts. The section also administers the Historic Memorials and Gifts Collections.

PSDB highlights and achievements

A major achievement this year was the successful completion of the project to establish a child care centre within Parliament House. The project involved converting the old staff bar into a modern child care facility that included indoor and outdoor play areas. The project was delivered on time and within budget, and the Capital Hill Early Childhood Centre opened in early February 2009 (see the case study on page 22).

We also completed a major refurbishment of the Staff Dining Room, including a complete redesign of the servery area and complete kitchen upgrade. New dining room furniture and lighting systems, and an upgrade of the disabled toilet were delivered in stages following the opening of the servery area in February 2009. To open in time for the resumption of Parliament was pleasing given the tight construction timeframe over the Christmas/New Year period, which is usually a shut down period for the construction industry.

Another project completed in 2008-09 upgraded disabled access from the Senate basement car park to the Senate entry foyer. The work included widening doors and installing actuators to comply with standard disability access requirements.

Other significant projects PSDB completed during 2008-09 included the ParlInfo Search project, the new Bills System, the Document Production System upgrade and the installation of a wireless computer network for users of the parliamentary network.

In 2008-09, 93 new artworks were purchased for the Parliament House Art Collection. The new acquisitions address under-represented priority areas for acquisition, including works by indigenous and female artists. Eighteen artworks received conservation treatment in 2008-09.

Community engagement with the Parliament's art collections is an important goal, achieved through a program of specific exhibitions at Parliament House and reciprocal loan arrangements with other institutions.

A significant installation was the display of 33 indigenous artworks in the Presiding Officers Exhibition Area from December 2008 to January 2009. In addition, a permanent display of the Apology manuscript by Gemma Black, and glass coolamon by Bai Bai Napangarti, has been installed in the Members Hall.

Important new loans of artworks established during the reporting year included five portrait busts and one painting to the National Portrait Gallery for the opening of their new building in December 2008, and a number of artworks for the opening of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in May 2009.

Substantial improvements in PSDB administration and processes occurred during the year, including the establishment of panel contracts for architectural design and engineering services, formation of pre-qualified lists of construction contractors and consultants, and the development of a suite of industry standard construction contracts. These process enhancements have reduced tendering times, improved the quality of construction projects delivered, and reduced contract administration complexity for both the industry and DPS.

Strategy and Business Services Branch

Strategy and Business Services Branch[2] (SBSB) provides strategic planning and business services to support DPS's operations and strategic aims. The four SBSB sections primarily contribute to the plan services as well as general corporate support to the department.

The first of these sections, Strategic Planning and Policy (SPP), works with other areas of DPS to develop strategy, particularly relating to energy and water, heritage management, Broadcasting, IT and security. Other significant areas of SPP's work include collaboration with other areas of the department to ensure that technical and design integrity standards are maintained, including compliance with Building Code of Australia standards and regulations.

SPP also manages Parliament House environmental matters, including energy and water usage and waste management. The section includes the Parliamentary Service Liaison Officer (PSLO), a position funded by the three parliamentary departments. The PSLO provides advice to the parliamentary departments on service-wide issues and matters related to the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.

The HR Services section provides a complete range of human resources services to DPS, including payroll and personnel records management, recruitment, learning and development, performance management, workplace diversity, workers' compensation and rehabilitation, occupational health and safety (OHS) and workplace relations.

Governance and Business Management section is responsible for risk and fraud management, internal audit functions, insurance and legal liaison, performance reporting and external statutory reporting including portfolio budget statements and annual reports. The section also supports the Audit and Joint House Committees.

The fourth section, Customer Services and Communication, is the first point of contact for all enquiries relating to new projects and potential new services. Responsibilities include customer account management for the chamber departments and the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance), administration of the Request Approval Process (RAP), maintaining the DPS Services Catalogue, and the preparation and delivery of customer surveys.

SBSB highlights and achievements

In the reporting year, Strategy and Business Services Branch focused on providing improved corporate services to DPS, and there were a number of notable highlights.

Many of our environmental and heritage achievements are included in the Part 5 of this report. However, we are particularly proud of finalising the Waste Strategic Plan 2008-2011, which will help Parliament House in achieving its environmental and sustainability goals for the next three years. We also undertook an energy audit for Parliament House, which included transport for building occupants travelling to work (excluding Senators' and Members' and their staff's air travel). The audit has helped identify priorities for future energy improvements. More detailed information on the Waste Strategic Plan and the energy audit can be found in Part 5 of this report.

The first online DPS Suggestion Box went live in December 2008 to facilitate suggestions from all DPS staff. Eighteen suggestions and comments were received by the end of the reporting year. These covered a range of topics including our intranet (staff portal), building facilities, catering, IT and corporate services. Some of the suggestions have been very valuable. For example, visitors travelling to Parliament House by public transport have to alight at the bus stops located at the Senate and House of Representatives entrances which do not allow public access to the building. Visitors are often unsure of how to get to the public entrance. The suggestion focused on improving signs at the public bus stops. DPS has taken this suggestion on board and is in the process of developing clearer signs.

Continued improvements in DPS's risk management policy and framework, coupled with significant advances in business continuity planning, were recognised. As a consequence we had an improved score in Comcover's Risk Management Benchmarking Survey, increasing from 5.3 in 2008 to 6.9 in 2009. Aside from confirming improvements to our risk management capability, the improved score led to a useful reduction on our Comcover premium.

Successful negotiation of a new three year Union Collective Agreement with effect from 30 October 2008 was a major achievement. This in turn meant a significant implementation workload, with a very tight deadline, for the HR section. HR managed the implementation on time with a mix of skill and commitment. Importantly, the new agreement replaced two previous agreements, and represents a productivity improvement for the management and delivery of DPS payroll services.

Enhanced induction processes implemented during the year included a more comprehensive induction package and improved monitoring of induction and probation activities. The changes provide a better induction experience for incoming employees, with better information on induction and probation effectiveness and outcomes for the department.

A significant review conducted in 2008-09 looked at access to Parliament House services and facilities by disabled persons. Implementation of the review's recommendations of the review will be occurring over 2009-10. This should result in significantly improved disabled access for building occupants and visitors, and improved return to work capability for DPS staff.

The completion of the Parliament House Security Strategic Plan 2009-2014, and the development and implementation of the Information Technology Security Policy, were particular highlights of the Strategic Planning and Policy section in 2008-09. Together, these documents will greatly assist delivery of security services for all building occupants.

Chief Finance Officer Branch

The Chief Finance Officer Branch (CFOB) of DPS consists of two sections providing advice to the Executive, Assistant Secretaries and other DPS managers on a range of financial issues including compliance with statutory requirements. The branch maintains the Chief Executive's Instructions (CEIs), Chief Executive's Procedures (CEPs) and various financial delegations.

The Finance section provides financial information supporting internal management decision-making. Key services include compiling monthly and annual financial statements and monthly management reports, developing internal accounting policies and procedures, performing a treasury function and providing asset and taxation management. Furthermore, the section is responsible for accounts payable and receivable, developing and maintaining the CEIs, CEPs and procedural guides, and budget preparation for all internal cost centres.

Our Procurement, Contract Management and Logistics section provides advice on a range of procurement issues and manages the general services contracts. It develops and issues procurement and contract management policies to ensure legislative, regulatory and procedural obligations are observed. It also provides specialised procurement, contract development and tendering advice and services to ensure that value for money is being achieved in our various contracts. The Logistics sub-section receipts, tracks and delivers mail and other goods into Parliament House, records all outgoing consignments and manages a waste service.

CFOB highlights and achievements

During the reporting period, Finance staff generated unqualified financial statements for 2007-08 for the sixth consecutive year. In addition, no financial issues were raised at the 2008-09 interim audit. These outstanding financial results have helped DPS receive a low risk accreditation by the Australian National Audit Office, and reflect the high level of confidence held by external stakeholders in the effectiveness of our financial controls and operations.

A major review of our procurement and support services roles was undertaken, resulting in a restructure of the area and reallocation of responsibilities. This has resulted in administrative and cost savings for DPS, enabling a higher level of concentration on contract management. In conjunction with the implementation of a new centralised procurement management model, these changes have helped ensure that we obtain value for money through more efficient, effective and ethical procurement practices. In turn, this has led to lower procurement costs and better levels of accountability.

The 2008-09 year also saw the implementation of a new contracts database, which has significantly improved contract management and enhanced our contract reporting capability. The new database is used in managing the contract life cycle, from identification of a need and approach to market, through to contract monitoring and contract performance management.

The Logistics sub-section undertook a range of activities that have enhanced safety for the work area and for building occupants generally. These include the implementation of enhanced security processes for receiving incoming goods, improved food-handling processes in collaboration with parliamentary catering providers, and a number of occupational health and safety enhancements.

[1]. DPS changed its organisational structure in July 2009. As a result of this change the Strategy and Business Services Branch no longer exists. The sections within SBS have been allocated to other branches within DPS.

[2]. DPS changed its organisational structure in July 2009. As a result of this change the Strategy and Business Services Branch no longer exists. The sections within SBS have been allocated to other branches within DPS.