Corporate governance

The department's operations are governed by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and are subject to provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and other legislation.

In 2011–12, the department's mechanisms to implement best practice corporate governance included senior management and consultative committees and a strategic corporate plan.

Management committees

At the strategic level, two groups under the supervision of the Clerk's Office, the Program Managers' Group and the Audit and Evaluation Committee, are responsible for implementing and monitoring corporate governance principles. The department's Senate Management Advisory Group assists the Program Managers' Group. During the reporting period, the Deputy Clerk continued to chair the Program Managers' Group. The Clerk, Deputy Clerk and the program managers also met as a senior officer group periodically throughout the year.

The Workplace Consultative Committee is the forum through which formal consultation on workplace relations occurs between the department and staff.

In addition, the department participates in the interdepartmental committees through which the parliamentary departments coordinate Parliament House–wide matters.

The role, membership and activities of the department's senior management committees and advisory groups are described in figure 19.

Figure 19 Management and advisory groups, 2011-12

Audit and Evaluation Committee Program Managers' Group Senate Management Advisory Group Workplace Consultative Committee


  • internal and external audits
  • administrative, operating and accounting controls
  • risk management.

Supervise the annual internal audit program.

Ensure best practice financial management and reporting, fraud control and business risk monitoring.

Coordinate corporate governance matters, including:

  • human resource management
  • risk management and planning
  • financial planning
  • departmental service quality.

Discuss departmental proposals, policy initiatives and changes.

Advise the Program Managers' Group on leadership and managerial matters.

Serve as the principal forum for formal consultation between the department and staff on workplace relations.

Monitor and evaluate the impact of the department's enterprise agreement.

Consider employment-related initiatives and matters that affect staff in the workplace.


3 meetings

Considered various matters which were reviewed by the department's internal audit service provider, including:

  • Senate Centralised Information Database
  • Performance Management Scheme
  • online recruitment practices.

Prepared an annual report to the Clerk and to the Senate Appropriations and Staffing Committee.

9 meetings

Examined matters including:

  • budget planning and reporting
  • business continuity plans
  • risk management
  • the Parliament House website redevelopment
  • workforce planning
  • information technology issues.

5 meetings

Reviewed various redrafted and new departmental policies including the performance communication, and learning and development schemes.

Finalised the review of the group's terms of reference and its future role and activities in the strategic management of the department.

6 meetings

Provided advice and recommendations on:

  • the redrafted policies on probation and performance management
  • changes to staffing arrangements
  • the enterprise agreement implementation
  • the meal allowance rate.

Program managers and an independent member.

Chaired by the Deputy Clerk.

Observers: Chief Finance and Information Technology Officer, representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and the department's internal audit service provider.

Program managers.

Chaired by the Deputy Clerk.

All departmental Parliamentary Executive Level 2 staff.

Convenor elected annually by the group.

The Usher of the Black Rod, the Clerk Assistant (Committees), up to 12 elected staff representatives and union representatives.

Chaired by the Usher of the Black Rod.

Structural review

As mentioned in the Clerk's Office chapter, the Senate Public Information Office was established in July 2011 in line with a recommendation from the structural review to coordinate and better manage the department's information resources and outputs. At the end of the reporting period, plans were well established to transfer web publishing staff to SPIO. The learning and development framework for staff was updated and continued to be used as the basis for employee professional development.

Corporate plan and work plans

Work on revising the corporate plan was finalised with a view to implementing the revised plan in the second half of 2012. Annual work plans detail the tasks and expected performance results for each office of the department. Regular reports to the Clerk showed continued progress on the work plans during 2011–12.

Fraud control and business risk management

The department has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting mechanisms that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines, as certified by the Clerk in appendix 3.

This framework for managing risk is revised regularly and made available to all staff via the department's intranet.

Consistent with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Clerk's Instructions and Financial Management Guidelines promote the proper use of the department's resources. They are reviewed on an annual basis to maintain their applicability and coverage.

Risk mitigation strategies and the assessment of existing risk controls are regularly considered by senior management and reported to the department's Audit and Evaluation Committee.

Fraud control and risk management are standing items on meeting agendas of the Audit and Evaluation Committee. In addition, the risk management plan is a standing item for consideration at meetings of the Program Managers' Group.

Ethical standards

The department upholds the Parliamentary Service Values and employees are required to comply with the Parliamentary Service Code of Conduct set out in the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. The values and code are integrated into departmental policies, where relevant, and into the corporate plan, which expresses the department's commitment to:

  • independence and integrity
  • good management and continuous improvement
  • probity and accountability.

New staff are briefed on the expected ethical standards, and provided with supporting literature, on their first day with the department.

Social justice and equity

As the department does not administer public programs, it does not directly implement a social justice strategy. However, the department aims to provide equality of access to its services, and equality of opportunity for employees.

External scrutiny

The Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee and the Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing monitor the department's performance. Neither committee made any specific recommendations relating to the department's performance during

Estimates committee hearings are an important mechanism for evaluating the department's activities. Senior departmental officers appeared before the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee at the 2011–12 supplementary budget estimates hearings on 17 October 2011, the 2011–12 additional budget estimates hearings on 13 February 2012, and the 2012–13 budget estimates hearings on 21 May 2012. Issues considered included various procedural matters; the departmental budget and staffing; Parliament House Heritage Advisory Board; online access to the Senate for people with disability; the Senate changeover in June–July 2011; and committee workloads and resourcing.

The department's activities were also scrutinised by both the internal audit service provider and the Australian National Audit Office. The Australian National Audit Office did not conduct any performance audits of the department during the year.

The department was not subject to any judicial or administrative tribunal decisions which had, or may have, a significant impact on the department's operations.