Administration of the Parliamentary Service
The PS Act provides for an independent Commissioner appointed by the Presiding Officers. The Commissioner’s role is to advise the Presiding Officers on the management of policies and practices of the Parliamentary Service and, if requested by the Presiding Officers, to inquire into and report on Parliamentary Service matters. The Commissioner is not subject to direction by or on behalf of the executive government in the performance of his functions.
The PS Act empowers the Presiding Officers to make determinations on a range of matters affecting the Parliamentary Service. The PS Act also requires the Presiding Officers to consult the Commissioner before making determinations.
Section 42 of the PS Act requires the Commissioner to give a report to the Presiding Officers for presentation to the Parliament on the activities of the Commissioner during the year.
Merit Protection Commissioner’s role
The role of the Merit Protection Commissioner includes inquiring into actions at the request of the Presiding Officers and into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by the Commissioner and functions prescribed in determinations made for the purposes of section 33 of the PS Act.
These functions include reviewing employment actions and promotions, providing recruitment services and inquiring into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct.
The Merit Protection Commissioner’s report is at Appendix A.
Roles and responsibilities of the individual departments
Four parliamentary departments are established under the PS Act.
The Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives (the chamber departments) provide advice and support to the Senate, the House of Representatives, Senators, Members and committees.
DPS provides a range of support services for the Parliament and for Parliament House. These include library and research services, information and communication technology services, security services, building, ground and design integrity services, audio visual and Hansard services, art services, visitor services, food and beverage services, retail, health, banking and childcare services
The PBO informs the Parliament by providing independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implication of proposals.
Under the PS Act, the Secretaries of the parliamentary departments have roles and responsibilities similar to those of Australian Public Service agency heads.
The appointment of the Clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives are made by the President and Speaker after consulting Senators and Members.
The Secretary of DPS is appointed by the Presiding Officers after receiving a report from the Commissioner.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer is appointed by the Presiding Officers after obtaining the approval of the Joint Committee for Public Accounts and Audit.
The Secretaries of the chamber departments are Mr Richard Pye, Clerk of the Senate, and Mr David Elder, Clerk of the House of Representatives. They are appointed for non-renewable terms of ten years. Mr Pye’s appointment is from 9 March 2017, and Mr Elder’s from 1 January 2014.
Ms Jenny Wilkinson is the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Secretary of the PBO. Her appointment is for a term of four years from 24 July 2017.
Mr Rob Stefanic was appointed to the position of the Secretary of DPS and commenced his five year term on 14 December 2015.
Dr Dianne Heriot holds the office of Parliamentary Librarian. Dr Heriot was reappointed for a second five year term on 10 May 2017.
On 31 August 2017 and 27 April 2018, representatives of the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Parliamentary departments met. The departments are considering proposing amendments to the Parliamentary Classification Rules to align more closely with the APS Classification Rules. Once agreed between departments, they will further consult with the APSC.
Information and Communications Technology
The Parliament of Australia ICT Strategic Plan 2013–18 has been used successfully as the basis for ICT planning, investment and governance for the four parliamentary departments. Oversight is provided by the Parliamentary ICT Advisory Board (PICTAB), whose members include the Parliamentary Service Commissioner.
With the formation of the 45th Parliament the representation of parliamentarians on PICTAB was increased from three to nine members. This includes three representatives from each of the Government, Opposition and Cross Bench. PICTAB continues to function as an effective advisory group on the use of ICT in the parliament and will play a pivotal role in the crafting of the new Australian Parliament Digital Strategy 2019–22, which will be developed by the end of 2018.
The previous Commissioner attended meetings of the PICTAB during 2017–18.
Liaison between the Australian Public Service Commission and the Parliamentary Service
Representatives of the parliamentary departments and the APSC liaised on relevant issues throughout the year.
The Parliamentary departments are informed of major initiatives taken by the Australian Public Service Commissioner. The purpose is to ensure the Presiding Officers and Secretary are aware of employment changes that may be relevant to the management of Parliament House staff.
All details relating to Parliamentary Service staffing are provided in the respective departmental annual reports.
The legislation establishing the special appropriations from which Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives draw down various monies to pay for Senators’ and Members’ remuneration and entitlements appropriations is administered by the Department of Finance and the APSC. These agencies are responsible for reporting these administered special appropriation items.
There are no separate financial reports for the Commissioner and Merit Protection Commissioner.
Any costs for the Commissioners are included within the overall financial results of the APSC.
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