External scrutiny

The Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations, Staffing and Security provide means by which senators and others may monitor the department’s performance. Matters relating to the structure and functions of the parliamentary departments may also be examined by the Appropriations, Staffing and Security Committee.

Estimates hearings are an important accountability mechanism in which senators may test advice provided by departmental officers and evaluate the department’s performance. The Clerk and officers of the department appeared before the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee on 25 October 2021. Matters considered included the Senate committee system and the participation of the department in the Jenkins’ review. The department was not required to attend the additional estimates hearings in February 2022 or the budget estimates hearings in April 2022 and was not asked to respond to any questions on notice.

The department’s activities were also scrutinised by both an internal audit service provider and the Australian National Audit Office, although that office did not conduct any performance audits covering the department’s activities during the reporting period.

The department was not subject to any judicial or administrative tribunal decisions which had, or may have, a significant impact on the department’s operations.

While not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the department’s policy is to comply with the intent of the Act in relation to its administrative records to the extent practicable, having regard to the legal issues which may arise in the absence of the protections afforded by the Act. In this reporting period the department received one request for information in relation to its administrative records which was complied with in full.