Produce, publish and manage information resources about the activities of the Senate and its committees.
Liaise with the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) and others in relation to the ICT systems and resources that underpin the support provided to the Senate, including system enhancement and development.
Manage the production of: Dynamic Red (ParlWork); Senate Daily Summary; The Week Ahead; StatsNet; and Senate Discovery.
All publications were published within agreed timeframes set out in the 2021–22 office work plan.
Coordinate the Senate’s public information resources and produce and publish material for the department in multiple formats.
Current, accurate and relevant information was available about the role and work of the Senate and its committees as required.
Ongoing improvements were made to the availability and accessibility of information resources.
Develop, manage and participate in projects to improve information dissemination.
A number of projects to streamline work practices and to improve the delivery of information were successfully implemented.
Liaise with DPS and the other parliamentary departments on ICT matters.
The requirements of the Senate and the department were effectively represented in the ICT priorities of the Parliament.
Manage the Senate’s Twitter account.
Through @AuSenate, the department engaged with and informed followers about the work of the Senate.
The Senate Public Information Office (SPIO) is led by the Clerk Assistant (Table) and the Director, SPIO, Matt Keele. The Director and the SPIO team work closely together to deliver services to the Senate, the public and the department. The Clerk Assistant (Table) is also responsible for strategic leadership in relation to the department’s ICT dependencies, including liaison with the Department of Parliamentary Service’s Information Services Division.
SPIO produces and publishes an array of information resources so that people can understand and engage in the work of the Senate and its committees. This work is undertaken against the strategic goal of improving the department’s approach to publishing and sharing information and being responsive to the evolving ways in which senators and the public expect to find and consume information.
SPIO also coordinates the department’s involvement in forums and projects affecting the production and dissemination of Senate and departmental information resources.
The COVID pandemic once again impacted the team’s usual operating model. From July to December 2021 the production of information resources, such as the Dynamic Red, that support Senate sittings were undertaken largely via remote working. Overall the team’s activities were performed seamlessly with the aid of appropriate remote access to systems, applications, and means of communications via Microsoft Teams. The one exception was that two episodes of the Senate Discovery video were not produced in August 2021 due to the challenges of bringing people together physically at that time.
The cost of the office for 2021–22 was $1.4m ($1.4m in 2020–21), with staffing levels maintained at an average of 8.3 full-time equivalent.
SPIO supported each of the 33 sitting days in this reporting period by producing and publishing the following information resources relevant to the meetings of the Senate, and meeting corresponding performance results:
- The Week Ahead – 9 editions
- Dynamic Red (and ParlWork web-application) – 33 editions with an average of 123 updates a day
- Senate Daily Summary – 33 editions
- Senate Discovery – 4 episodes, and
- compilation and publication of statistics about the work of the Senate: StatsNet and Statistical Summary.
In this reporting period, the office’s work to develop and publish information resources also included:
- StatsNet – migration of older statistical collections into an archive and updates to page templates
- producing video, print and web resources for the Parliamentary Education Office (PEO), notably Your questions on notice (an online resource), a series of Prime Minister posters, and resources to enhance the delivery of virtual classrooms
- maintaining the Senate YouTube channel
- video production for a suite of new training materials
- producing the department’s corporate reporting and planning documents
- implementing new page designs across a range of Senate committee web pages
- ongoing development of Senate Connect (senators’ intranet) and SENNET (departmental intranet).
SPIO also managed the Senate’s Twitter account, @AuSenate, providing regular and frequent updates about the work of the Senate and its committees. Through Twitter, the department is able to increase its outreach and respond quickly to requests for information.
Projects and support
During the reporting period, SPIO continued to collaborate with DPS and the Department of the House of Representatives on a number of ICT projects to drive efficiencies and to create new resources. During this period ten projects were completed:
- Passage of legislation website, an online interactive flowchart illustrating the parliamentary processes relating to bills – October 2021
- Aurion implementation, a corporate system for managing human resources – November 2021
- remediation of the committee report builder system to resolve Windows 10 compatibility issues – completed November 2021
- Odgers’ content management project to support the drafting and publishing of the next edition of Australian Senate Practice – completed January 2022
- EventsAir implementation, a system used for events management and delivery of online seminars – completed May 2022
- update to the Senators’ Interests portal for declaring pecuniary interests – completed May 2022
- Online tabled documents phase 1 implementation, a system that will deliver efficiencies when receiving and publishing documents presented to Parliament – completed May 2022
- Perceptive Search, a document search tool used by the Committee Office – completed May 2022
- interactive Senate seating plan – completed June 2022, and
- development of Senate web pages, including implementation of the Senate Matters blog – completed June 2022.
SPIO provided extensive support to the department by coordinating, with DPS, the roll out of the Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft 365 applications, as well as the provision of laptops to all staff to enable remote working – completed February 2021 and June 2021, respectively.
Other significant work during 2021–22 which is expected to be completed in the next reporting period includes:
- Online tabled documents project phase 2 – integration with other systems to improve the web portal search interface
- Senators’ Interests Committee online search interface
- CommDocs replacement project – an application for managing and disseminating committee meeting papers and records
- Committee report builder replacement project – development of a new application that is better suited to the new and evolving cloud computing environment, and
- enhancements to online points of sale.
In 2022–23, SPIO will continue its information resource production, projects and support programs and ICT liaison, in line with the department’s strategic aims and to achieve its service delivery to senators and the public.
The office will continue to work with DPS and others to progress various ICT projects designed to strengthen and streamline the systems and resources that enable the department’s work.
In addition to the ongoing work noted above, SPIO will lead and support several other projects that will commence in the following year, including implementation of a new database and document management system to support the work of the three legislative scrutiny committees; analysis, planning, and design for the replacement of the Senate’s two main intranets (Senate Connect and SENNET); and two significant projects with the PEO to digitise Parliament in Pictures and redevelop the Federal Parliament history timeline sub-site.
SPIO’s work will continue to focus on capacity building throughout the department to support digital innovation to mitigate the department’s strategic risks in relation to ICT systems and resources and workforce capability.