Management of financial resources

Asset management

The department’s asset management strategy focuses on efficient asset utilisation and allows the department to identify underperforming assets. The department operates within a controlled environment at Parliament House and the risk of loss for the majority of assets is minimal.

A stocktake of office machines and equipment and portable and attractive assets was completed in 2016–17. During the stocktake process, Finance Office staff conducted a visual assessment for impairment. A verification of impairment testing was undertaken in conjunction with asset counting.

During the reporting period, two items in the asset register were reclassified from the property, plant and equipment asset class to the heritage and cultural asset class due to their heritage value and cultural significance. These two items are the rosewood despatch boxes located in the House of Representatives Chamber. Also during the reporting period, two heritage and cultural items were removed from the department’s register. The 1927 gold key to Old Parliament House and the 1988 gold key to Australian Parliament House were identified as belonging to the Department of Parliamentary Services. The carrying value of the assets at the date of adjustment has been recognised in other comprehensive income.
The department undertook a materiality assessment of the carrying value of its assets measured against fair value. The independent valuer’s report concluded that there was no material difference between the carrying value and fair value.

The furniture replacement project continued during 2016–17. This project consists of replacing the office furniture in the staff areas of members’ offices. At 30 June 2017, 65 per cent of the offices had been completed. The project is due for completion in July 2018. A combination of cash reserves and funding from the departmental capital budget has been used to replace these furniture items. The total estimated cost for this project is $4.0 million. Actual expenditure at 30 June 2017 was $2.7 million. The project is tracking in line with budget estimates.

Other minor asset purchases included replacement of televisions, fridges and task chairs in members’ and departmental offices. The department adopts a ‘break–fix’ replacement policy for these items.

During 2016–17, the department finalised the development of the Parliamentary Procedural Records System; developed an electronic petitions system; and, in partnership with the Department of the Senate, continued to enhance the Shared Committee Information Database.

A review of the intangible assets category was conducted to verify assets in use. All software items were found to be in use.
There was no indication that any departmental assets were impaired to any extent approaching materiality.


An approach to market was conducted to replace the department’s ageing print-room equipment. Arrangements were entered into to provide expertise associated with the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program and activities under the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Project. The department accessed existing panel arrangements for the procurement of training and leadership development programs and recruitment.

The department continued its arrangement with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for the provision of legislative drafting services. The procurement of these services is provided on a fee-for-service basis.

The department continued to access whole-of-government contracts for the provision of travel and related services. Purchases of stationery and office supplies were made through the whole-of-government contract with Staples.


The department engages consultants when it lacks specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department’s decision-making.

Before engaging consultants, the department takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally, and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 and associated instruments, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policies.

During 2016–17, 10 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total expenditure of $0.056 million. In addition, five ongoing consultancy contracts were active in 2016–17, involving total expenditure of $0.215 million.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website (

Competitive tendering and contracting

The department’s contracting activities have been disclosed through the government’s AusTender system, as required. There were no instances during 2016–17 where contracts were let that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises, or where the Clerk exempted a contract from being published on AusTender.

Advertising and market research

Section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requires the department to detail amounts paid to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations during the financial year.

The department did not conduct any advertising campaigns during 2016–17.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium enterprises and small enterprises are available on the Department of Finance’s website at

Consistent with paragraph 5.4 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department’s procurement practices to support small and medium enterprises include:

  • using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • facilitating on-time payments by using electronic funds transfer or payment cards.

Legal services expenditure

Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2017 requires the department to publicly disclose its legal services expenditure. During 2016–17, external legal expenditure was $61,062 ($64,794 in 2015–16). The department did not incur any internal legal expenses during 2016–17 (nil in 2015–16).

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