External scrutiny

The department’s operations are primarily administrative and are therefore not usually subject to formal external scrutiny.

Reports by the Auditor-General, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or parliamentary committees

In 2017–18, the Auditor-General did not table any reports directly relating to the administration of the department or its operations. The Australian National Audit Office provided an unqualified audit report on the department’s 2016–17 financial statements.

There were no investigations by the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 2017–18 that involved the department.

During the reporting year, the Clerk contributed, made submissions or provided evidence to:

  • the Attorney-General’s Department’s Sunsetting Review Committee’s review of the Sunsetting Framework under the Legislation Act 2003
  • the New South Wales Legislative Council’s Privileges Committee’s inquiry into procedural fairness for inquiry participants
  • the Department of Finance’s independent review of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • the review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017
  • the House of Commons of the United Kingdom’s Procedure Committee’s inquiry into proxy voting and parental absence
  • the New South Wales Legislative Council’s Public Accountability Committee’s inquiry into the scrutiny of public accountability in New South Wales.

The department continued to support the Standing Committee on Appropriations and Administration’s consideration of the department’s funding requirements and budget position. During 2017–18, the committee met three times and tabled two reports: Report no. 14: Annual report 2016–17 and Report no. 15: Budget estimates 2018–19.

In its budget estimates report, the committee noted that the supplementary funding of $12.4 million provided over four years, starting from 2016–17, was being used to good effect, to strengthen the department’s procedural capacity and provide additional support for the parliamentary committees administered by the department.

Judicial and administrative decisions

During 2017–18, no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals or the Australian Information Commissioner had, or are anticipated to have, a significant effect on the operations of the department.

Freedom of information

The department is excluded from the application of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, under section 68A of the Parliamentary Service Act.

Disability reporting mechanisms

Disability reporting now sits within the framework of the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10-year national policy to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy, and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 Progress report to the Council of Australian Governments 2014 can be found on the Department of Social Services website.