Produce, publish and manage information resources about the activities of the Senate and its committees.
Liaison with the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) and others in relation to the ICT systems and resources that underpin the support provided to the Senate, including system enhancement and development.
Manage the production of: Dynamic Red (ParlWork); Senate Daily Summary; The Week Ahead; StatsNet; and Senate Discovery.
All publications were published within agreed timeframes set out in the 2019–20 office work plan.
Coordinate the Senate’s public information resources and produce and publish material for the department in multiple formats.
Current, accurate and relevant information was available about the role and work of the Senate and its committees as required.
Ongoing improvements were made to the availability and accessibility of information resources.
Develop, manage and participate in projects to improve information dissemination.
A number of projects to streamline work practices and to improve the delivery of information were successfully implemented.
Liaise with DPS and the other parliamentary departments on ICT matters.
The requirements of the Senate and the department were effectively represented in the ICT priorities of the Parliament.
Manage the Senate’s Twitter account.
Through @AuSenate, the department engaged with and informed followers about the work of the Senate.
The Senate Public Information Office (SPIO) is led by the Clerk Assistant (Table) and the Director, SPIO, Matt Keele. The Director and the SPIO team work closely together to deliver services to the Senate, the public and the department. The Clerk Assistant (Table) is also responsible for strategic leadership in relation to the department’s ICT dependencies, including liaison with the Department of Parliamentary Service’s Information Services Division.
SPIO produces and publishes an array of information resources so that people can understand and engage in the work of the Senate and its committees. This work is undertaken against the strategic goal of improving the department’s approach to publishing and sharing information and being responsive to the evolving ways in which senators and the public expect to find and consume information.
SPIO also coordinates the department’s involvement in forums and projects affecting the production and dissemination of Senate and departmental information resources. In 2019–20, SPIO coordinated the department’s involvement and contribution to the development of the ICT road maps for the Parliament, led by DPS.
From March 2020, SPIO, worked closely with colleagues from DPS Information Services Division, to support the department’s transition to remote working arrangements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption from the pandemic has resulted in revised timelines for a number of projects that had completion dates on or before 30 June 2020, notably the Online Table Documents project, which will now be implemented in late 2020.
The cost of the office for 2019–20 was $1.4m ($1.4m in 2018–19), with staffing levels maintained at an average of 10 full-time equivalent.
SPIO supported each of the 58 sitting days in this reporting period by producing and publishing the following information resources relevant to the meetings of the Senate, and meeting corresponding performance results:
- The Week Ahead – 17 editions
- Dynamic Red (and ParlWork web-application) – 58 editions with an average of 109 updates per day
- Senate Daily Summary – 58 editions
- Senate Discovery – 11 episodes, and
- compilation and publication of statistics about the work of the Senate: StatsNet and Statistical Summary.
In this reporting period, the office’s work to develop and publish information resources also included:
- development of a webpage to bring together a collection of published writings by the former Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans
- StatsNet – back capture of statistical information from the 43rd and 44th parliaments
- assisting with the development of a website to commemorate the 50th year of the operation of the modern Senate committee system
- producing video, print and web resources for the Parliamentary Education Office (PEO), notably Parliament in Pictures
- production of the department’s corporate reporting and planning documents, and
- ongoing development of Senate Connect (senators’ intranet) and SENNET (departmental intranet).
SPIO also managed the Senate’s Twitter account, @AuSenate, providing regular and frequent updates about the work of the Senate and its committees. Through Twitter, the department is able to increase its outreach, engage with citizens and others and respond quickly to requests for information.
Projects and support
During the reporting period, SPIO continued to collaborate with DPS and the Department of the House of Representatives (DHR) on a number of ICT projects to enhance the systems that underpin our work and to create new resources. During this period eight projects were completed:
- Procedural Hub, an online hub with access to procedural information, resources and advice regarding the conduct of business in the Senate – completed July 2019
- new PEO website – completed October 2019
- enhancements to the Common Data Access Platform (CDAP), a system used to manage, reuse and share parliamentary data – completed October 2019
- coordinated the department’s participation in the APH website upgrade project – completed February 2020
- development of the Senate Divisions Recording System – completed in March 2020 although implementation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic
- implementation of the Reserve Bank of Australia EasyPay online payment system and integration with the PEO’s online shopping cart – completed March 2020
- enhancements to the Parliamentarians’ Information Portal, a tool for managing a dataset within CDAP – completed June 2020, and
- enhancements to the Venue Management System used by the PEO to manage school bookings for visiting students – completed June 2020.
Other significant work during 2019–20 which is expected to be completed in the next reporting period includes:
- Passage of Legislation – an online interactive flowchart illustrating the parliamentary processes relating to bills
- Online Tabled Documents project (with DPS, DHR and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet), a system to receive and publish digital copies of tabled documents, and
- enhancement of Committee Office systems that support the estimates questions on notice process.
In 2020–21, SPIO will continue its information resource production, projects and support programs and ICT liaison, in line with the department’s strategic aims and to achieve its service delivery to senators and the public.
The office will continue to work with DPS and others to progress various ICT projects designed to strengthen and streamline the systems and resources that enable the department’s work. Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic emphasise the need for ICT systems that provide mobility and seamless user experience between office and remote working arrangements, for senators and staff alike. Working with DPS, SPIO will coordinate the department’s transition later this year to the Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft 365 suite of applications, providing a foundation for greater mobility. In addition, SPIO will be working closely with DPS and the House of Representatives to develop appropriate video conferencing capabilities to support the remote participation of senators and members in their proceedings. Other projects include the expansion of the ParlWork application to provide live hearing updates from committees (analogous to Estimates Live and the Dynamic Red), a new document management and publishing system to support the legislative scrutiny committees, enhancements to the Senate’s online statistical collection StatsNet and the development of a Senate YouTube channel to promote awareness of the work of the Senate and expand on the Senate Discovery video series.
SPIO’s work will continue to focus on capacity building throughout the department to support digital innovation to mitigate the department’s strategic risks in relation to ICT systems and resources and workforce capability.