Departmental overview


The department's role is to serve the Senate and its committees, and its functions are almost entirely determined by their activities. The department provides services in four main categories: Senate support, committee support, senators' services, and public education and awareness.

The department is responsible to the Senate and all senators, and maintains complete impartiality in serving senators from all political parties and independent senators.

Aim and objectives

In 2008–09, the department worked towards achieving its overall aim of 'effective provision of services to support the functioning of the Senate as a House of the Commonwealth Parliament'.

During the year, the department:

  • developed and documented its expertise in the constitutional and procedural basis of the Senate and its committees
  • maintained and improved services to the Senate, Senate committees, senators and other users of departmental resources, using efficient and up-to-date technology
  • ensured the highest standard of prompt and accurate procedural advice and legislative support
  • sought feedback from senators through the biennial senators' survey
  • published a range of practical, procedural resources on the work of the Senate and the parliament, and maximised awareness of and access to those resources
  • produced and delivered effective education and information programs
  • implemented effective workforce planning, recruitment and staff development practices to ensure that it has a highly skilled, knowledgeable and motivated workforce.

The department's results against the performance indicators and targets in the Portfolio Budget Statements are described in the 'Report on performance' chapter.

Organisational structure

The department is responsible to the Senate through the President of the Senate. On 26 August 2008, Senator the Honourable John Hogg was elected President of the Senate, replacing Senator the Honourable Alan Ferguson.

The Clerk of the Senate, Mr Harry Evans, is the administrative head of the department.

The department is organised into five offices:

  • Clerk's Office—provides procedural and constitutional advice in relation to the proceedings of the Senate and its committees, strategic direction for the department and secretariat support for the Procedure Committee, the Committee of Privileges and the Committee of Senators' Interests, and maintains the Register of Senators' Interests
  • Table Office—provides procedural advice and programming services; processes legislation and documents, and archives records of the Senate; produces formal and informal records of Senate business; provides an inquiries service; and provides secretariat support to several domestic committees
  • Procedure Office—provides procedural advice and drafting services to non-government senators; conducts research and produces publications, lectures and exhibitions; supports the legislative scrutiny committees; provides parliamentary education services and resources; and supports inter-parliamentary activities
  • Committee Office—provides secretariat support to most Senate and certain joint committees and strives to increase the public's awareness of the work of committees
  • Black Rod's Office—provides office, information technology, printing, delivery and ceremonial support services for senators and departmental staff; human resource, financial and records management services; and security advice.

Figure 1 identifies the elements that make up each of the offices. Contact details are listed in Appendix 5.

Figure 1 Organisational structure, 30 June 2009
President of the Senate
(Senator the Honourable John Hogg)
Clerk's Office

Clerk of the Senate
(Harry Evans)

Deputy Clerk
(Rosemary Laing)

Table Office Procedure Office Committee Office Black Rod's Office

Clerk Assistant
(Maureen Weeks)

Clerk Assistant
(Richard Pye)

Clerk Assistant
(Cleaver Elliott)

Usher of the Black Rod
(Brien Hallett)

Journals and Notice Paper Section
Legislation and Documents Section

Legislative scrutiny committees
Research Section
Parliamentary Education Officea
Parliamentary Relations Officeb

Legislative and general purpose standing committees
Select committees
Certain joint committees

Senators' Services Section
Information Technology Section
Human Resource Management Section
Financial Management Section
President's Officec

a Jointly funded by the department and the Department of the House of Representatives.
b Jointly funded by the department and the Department of the House of Representatives and administered by the Department of the House of Representatives.
c Included for budgetary purposes only.

Outcome and output structure

Figure 2 illustrates the relationship between the department's organisational and output structures, and summarises the outputs delivered by each office. A detailed statement of outputs is provided at the beginning of each office's report on performance.

Figure 2 Output structure, 30 June 2009

2008-08 Output structure