The department’s operations for 2019–20 were governed by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and other legislation.
The department’s Corporate Plan 2019–20 outlines our objectives, role and structure, the environment in which we operate, and our approach to maintaining the capabilities of our key resource – our staff. Work reports provided to the Clerk throughout the reporting period showed continued progress in key areas and work tasks. Planned outcomes are explained in the department’s portfolio budget statements and performance results, including our annual performance statements, and are included in this report.
Management and assurance
The department’s corporate governance mechanisms include two senior committees, the Program Managers’ Group, chaired by the Deputy Clerk, and the Audit Committee, chaired by an independent member from outside the department. These committees provide advice, support and assurance to the Clerk to ensure that effective governance and statutory responsibilities for the management of the department are met. The role, membership and activities of these groups are described in figure 17. A copy of the Audit Committee Charter can be found on the Department of the Senate website –www.aph.gov.au/senate/dept.
The department also participates in a range of interdepartmental committees through which the parliamentary departments coordinate common and joint activities. Chief among these were meetings of the heads of the four parliamentary departments, the Parliamentary Administration Advisory Group, the Security Management Board, the Parliamentary ICT Advisory Board (and its subordinate ICT committees), and other bodies managing joint projects.
Figure 17 – Management and assurance, 2019–20
|Program Managers’ Group
||Coordinate corporate governance matters, including
- human resource management
- risk management and planning
- performance reporting
- financial planning, and
- departmental service quality
Examined a range of issues in the following areas
- staffing (including learning and development)
- health and well-being strategy (including work, health and safety)
- ICT and associated risk strategies
- compliance, auditing and reporting requirements
- risk management (including risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic)
- administrative arrangements, and
- administration in common with other parliamentary departments.
||Deputy Clerk and program managers.
Chaired by the Deputy Clerk.
||Provide independent advice to the Clerk on the department’s financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal controls.
Based on the committee’s charter, the committee undertook a progressive annual work plan against its four main areas of focus
- financial reporting
- performance reporting
- risk oversight and management, and
- systems of internal control.
An annual report of the committee’s activities is provided to the Clerk in December each year.
||Three independent members (of whom one is the Chair), the Deputy Clerk and one program manager. Further information on the members is outlined below (see figure 18).
Observers: Usher of the Black Rod (Secretary), Chief Finance Officer, representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and the department’s internal audit service provider.
Figure 18 – Audit Committee member information, 2019–20
||Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)
||Number of meetings attended / total number of meetings^
||Total annual remuneration*
||Ms Montano holds the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (UNSW) and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
She has over twenty years’ experience as chair, deputy chair and member of boards and audit committees across a range of government and not for profit entities. She has broad-ranging experience in governance and the machinery of government including in financial and performance reporting, risk, assurance and program and project management and oversight.
She is a former chief executive officer in the Commonwealth and senior financial services lawyer with King & Wood Mallesons.
|5 (of 5)
||Mr Murtagh holds a Certificate in Governance and Risk Management from the Governance Institute of Australia and is a member of the Risk Management Institute of Australia.
He has been a member of public sector audit committees for most of the past 12 years, informed by a career in the general government sector spanning more than 37 years, and in governance-focused roles at branch head or equivalent levels for over 12 years.
|4 (of 5)
||Mr Knuckey holds a Bachelor of Economics (ANU), is a Fellow Chartered Accountant, graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Registered Company Auditor.
He has extensive experience as an audit committee member or chair and is currently serving on audit committees for numerous government entities. He also has extensive experience as a director and serves on boards and audit committees of multiple private sector entities.
Mr Knuckey has been a full-time company director and audit committee member since 2009 following a 32-year career with Ernst & Young specialising in audit and assurance services in both the public and private sectors across a range of industries.
|5 (of 5)
|M Weeks (to 31 Dec 2019)
||Ms Weeks holds an Arts (Hons) degree from the Australian National University.
She was the Deputy Clerk of the Senate until her retirement in January 2020. In this role, she supported the Clerk in providing advice on Senate and committee proceedings and leading and managing the Senate department. She was the secretary to the Senate Privileges Committee and chaired the department’s Program Managers’ Group.
Prior to her role as Deputy Clerk, Ms Weeks was Clerk Assistant (Procedure), Clerk Assistant (Table), Clerk Assistant (Committees) and secretary to various committees. She has also held a number of senior positions in the secretariat to the ACT Legislative Assembly.
|3 (of 3)
||Ms Morris holds degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Queensland.
She is currently Deputy Clerk of the Senate where she supports the Clerk in providing advice on Senate and committee proceedings and leading and managing the Senate department. She is secretary to the Senate Committee of Privileges and chairs the department’s Program Managers’ Group.
Prior to her current role, she worked in several roles within the department, including Clerk Assistant (Procedure) and Senior Clerk of Committees. Before joining the department, she worked for the Indigenous Land Corporation in both policy and project roles.
|5 (of 5)
|T Bryant (from 1 Feb 2020)
||Mr Bryant holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Fine Arts from the University of Sydney.
He is currently the Clerk Assistant (Table). His primary responsibilities include the leadership of the Table Office and the Senate Public Information Office (SPIO), and the provision of procedural advice and programming services for the Senate. He is also the secretary to the Selection of Bills Committee and the Registrar of Senators’ Interests.
Prior to his current role, he worked in several roles within the department including Clerk Assistant (Committees), committee secretary and Director of Research. Prior to joining the department, he worked in the Department of Education.
|2 (of 2)
^ The comparison relates to the total number of meetings for the reporting period held during the member’s tenure. In addition to attending meetings, the committee members are required to consider material out-of-session including significant preparation for each meeting.
* Total annual remuneration is GST exclusive.
Fraud control and risk management
Consistent with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act, the Clerk’s Instructions and associated financial management policies promote the proper use of the department’s resources. The Clerk’s Instructions are reviewed regularly to ensure their applicability and coverage.
The department has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting mechanisms that comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework. No incidents of fraud were detected in this reporting period.
During 2019–20, risk areas and associated controls and mitigation strategies were routinely considered by senior management and reported to the department’s Audit Committee. The framework for managing risk is revised regularly and made available to staff on the department’s intranet. Risk oversight and management is a standing agenda item for meetings of the program managers. The risk management and fraud control frameworks were reviewed during 2019–20 and updates were made to strengthen and simplify their purpose and to complement the existing policies and strategies behind both frameworks.