Part 2

Departmental Overview

Cover page for Part 2 Departmental overview. Image of dripping water

Role and functions

DPS is one of the four parliamentary departments which together comprise the Parliamentary Service. DPS operates under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 and the PGPA Act and reports jointly to the Presiding Officers of the Parliament.

The department is a support agency for APH, and exists to provide services to support the functioning of the Australian Parliament and individual parliamentarians. Working in collaboration with the parliamentary departments, DPS provides or facilitates the following:

  • library and research services
  • information and communication technology services
  • security services
  • building, grounds and heritage management services
  • audio-visual and Hansard services
  • art services
  • visitor services
  • food and beverage, retail, health, and childcare services, and
  • corporate, administrative and strategic services.

Outcome and program structure

The DPS outcome in 2014–15 was: “Occupants of Parliament House are supported by integrated services and facilities, Parliament functions effectively and its work and building are accessible to the public.”

In the 2014–15 Parliamentary Budget Statement DPS had two programs:

  • Program 1: Parliamentary Services had the following program objectives:
    • strategically plan to maintain and upgrade Parliament House
    • provide a range of research, information and reporting services to support the work of the Parliament and engage the community
    • maintain Parliament House as a safe and accessible workplace and public building
    • provide services to building occupants and electorate offices to enable them to conduct their work
    • provide services and facilities for visitors to Parliament House.
  • Program 2: Parliament House Works Program had the following program objective:
    • To plan, develop and deliver into service
      • a building works program
      • an artworks conservation and development program.
    • This program supports the operation of Parliament into the future, while at the same time preserving the design integrity of the architecture, engineering systems, art and landscape that make up Parliament House.

Strategic direction statement 2014–15

As set out in the 2014–15 Parliamentary Budget Statement, the strategic direction statement was: “The Department of Parliamentary Services provides essential services to support the work of the Parliament, maintain Parliament House as a symbol of democracy, and ensure that the important activity that takes place within it is accessible and engaging for all.”

“Areas of priority for the department were to:

  • support the work of Parliament to ensure its effective function
  • strategically plan for and maintain and enhance Parliament House
  • provide information and communication technologies that support the Parliament and connect with the wider community
  • provide the opportunity for high quality experiences which support engagement with the Parliament by a diverse range of visitors, both physical and virtual, building occupants and the community
  • ensure the Parliament’s assets are cared for and respected and its heritage value is maintained for future generations.”

Services provided by DPS

Library and research services

The Parliamentary Library provides information, analysis and advice to senators and members in support of their parliamentary and representational roles.

Information and communication technology (ICT) services

DPS manages the infrastructure and delivery of ICT services to more than 5,400 registered users in Parliament House, Federal Electorate Offices and Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices. This includes service design, implementation and support in the form of a central help desk, training, the provision of software and hardware, and management of the department’s relationships with external ICT providers.

Hansard and Audio Visual Services

DPS provides Hansard and audio-visual services, including recording, broadcasting and archiving the audio-visual record of Parliament and parliamentary committee proceedings and the production of the written record (Hansard).

Security services

DPS, in partnership with the Australian Federal Police, plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of Parliament House and the diverse community of staff and visitors who occupy the building every day of the year.

Building management services

DPS is responsible for the maintenance of the exterior and interior of the building, and the parliamentary precincts landscape, as well as the provision of logistic services throughout the building. The department also manages utility services such as electricity and gas, heating and cooling systems, and hydraulic services including plumbing, drainage and water supply.

Heritage and design integrity

Australian Parliament House is considered an important 20th century building. It is a place where major decisions are made that impact on the daily life of all Australians. DPS is charged with the management of the design integrity of Parliament House while ensuring its future as a working building. As custodian, DPS has a responsibility to manage the building for current and future generations. DPS maintains a record of all changes to the building and landscaping.

Art services

DPS manages the extensive Parliament House Art Collection by acquiring, cataloguing, researching, digitising, conserving, preparing and presenting works of art to the highest possible museum standards. DPS staff allocate and install artworks in senators’ and members’ suites as well as in the circulation spaces throughout the building, and develop and present displays and exhibitions.

Visitor services

DPS provides a range of visitor services and facilities including:

  • guided tours for visitors and school groups
  • events and exhibitions
  • the Parliament Shop, and
  • managing the catering contract for the Queen’s Terrace Café.

Other services to support parliamentarians, and building occupants

DPS facilitates a range of services to support parliamentarians and building occupants. These services include:

  • food and beverage services
  • a health and recreation centre
  • a post office
  • banking and financial services
  • a child care centre
  • a travel agent
  • a nurse’s centre
  • physiotherapist services
  • a hairdresser, and
  • a florist.

Additionally, DPS manages the licences for the members of the Press Gallery, who occupy space at Parliament House.

Corporate, administrative and strategic services

DPS’ corporate and strategic areas provide advice and services to the DPS Executive and staff on a range of governance, strategic, financial, procurement, human resources and records management matters. This ensures that DPS complies with its responsibilities under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, the PGPA Act and a range of other legislative obligations, including human resources-related legislation. In addition, until 30 November 2014, ICT provided a range of corporate services to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) on a fee-for-service basis. From 1 December 2014, those services were provided to the PBO by the Department of the Senate.

Departmental structure

DPS is established as a department under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. The Act provides that the department consists of a Secretary of the department, together with the Parliamentary Librarian and Parliamentary Service employees assisting the Secretary and the Parliamentary Librarian. The Secretary is the Accountable Authority (CEO) and is the leader of DPS’ senior executive team.

The Parliamentary Librarian is the holder of a statutory office established by authority of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. The Parliamentary Librarian reports directly to the Presiding Officers—and to the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library—in respect of her statutory functions.

Organisational structure

Figure 1: DPS organisational structure at 30 June 2015

DPS organisational chart as at 30 June 2015

DPS structural changes

During 2014–15 there were slight changes to the department’s organisation structure. These included the formation of a temporary Program Delivery Branch as part of the Building and Asset Management Division, with a SES Band 1 Assistant Secretary appointed on a non-ongoing basis to lead the branch. Changes made also included both the transfer of Human Resources and Information Management functions to the People, Strategy and Governance Branch and the Parliamentary Experience Branch reporting to the Chief Operating Officer from April 2015. In addition to these changes, four branches changed their names to better reflect their functions, these are:

  • the Strategy and Performance Branch, now the People, Strategy and Governance Branch
  • the Corporate Services Branch, now the Finance and Procurement Branch
  • the Information Access Branch, now the Library Collections and Databases Branch
  • the Content Management Branch, now the Parliamentary Recording and Reporting Branch.

Senior Executive as at 30 June 2015 

Acting Secretary and Parliamentary Librarian, Dr Dianne Heriot

Dr Dianne Heriot was appointed as Parliamentary Librarian in May 2012, having acted in that position since February 2012. Prior to that, she was Assistant Secretary of the Research Branch of the Parliamentary Library. Dr Heriot has many years’ experience in senior management positions in the Australian Public Service (APS) including in the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Master of Arts (Medieval Studies) and Doctor of Philosophy in Literature.

Dr Heriot was appointed as Acting Secretary of DPS on 16 March 2015.

Chief Information Officer, Eija Seittenranta

Eija Seittenranta commenced as the Chief Information Officer at DPS in October 2012. Prior to joining DPS, Ms Seittenranta held a number of senior positions in ICT in the APS. Ms Seittenranta’s public service career was broken by a two-year stint working overseas for Standard Chartered Bank in an ICT executive role and a year to complete her MBA. Since re-joining the public service, Ms Seittenranta has held senior ICT positions with Centrelink, the Department of Health and Ageing, and the Department of Human Services.

First Assistant Secretary Building and Asset Management, Rob Barnes

Rob Barnes commenced with DPS on a non-ongoing basis as First Assistant Secretary Building and Asset Management in June 2015 following the transfer of Neil Skill to Australian Border Force. In this role Mr Barnes is responsible for the Asset Development and Maintenance Branch, the Strategic Asset Planning and Performance Branch, the Security Branch and the Program Delivery Branch. Mr Barnes brings to the department extensive managerial skills and a wealth of experience in project implementation in both the public and private sectors.

Chief Operating Officer, Myra Croke PSM

Myra Croke was appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at DPS in December 2014. In this role she is responsible for departmental activities including human resource management, strategic planning, communications and media, governance, financial services, procurement management, compliance and audit, and performance reporting. Prior to joining DPS Ms Croke held a number of senior positions at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Ms Croke was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2010 for outstanding public service in establishing and managing the secretariat for the National Security Committee of Cabinet.