Parliamentary Service Commissioner Annual Report 2018–19 incorporating the annual report of the Parliamentary Service Merit Protection Commissioner

Administration of the Parliamentary Service

Commissioner’s role

The PS Act provides for an independent Commissioner appointed by the Presiding Officers. The Commissioner’s role is to advise the Presiding Officers on the management of policies and practices of the Parliamentary Service and, if requested by the Presiding Officers, to inquire into and report on Parliamentary Service matters. The Commissioner is not subject to direction by or on behalf of the executive government in the performance of his functions.

The PS Act empowers the Presiding Officers to make determinations on a range of matters affecting the Parliamentary Service. The PS Act also requires the Presiding Officers to consult the Commissioner before making determinations.

Section 42 of the PS Act requires the Commissioner to give a report to the Presiding Officers for presentation to the Parliament on the activities of the Commissioner during the year.

In May 2019, the Parliamentary Services Commissioner was a member of the selection panel for the appointment of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Merit Protection Commissioner’s role

The role of the Merit Protection Commissioner includes inquiring into actions at the request of the Presiding Officers and into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by the Commissioner and functions prescribed in determinations made for the purposes of section 33 of the PS Act.

These functions include reviewing employment actions and promotions, providing recruitment services and inquiring into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct.

The Merit Protection Commissioner’s report is at Appendix A.

Roles and responsibilities of the individual departments

Four parliamentary departments are established under the PS Act.

The Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives provide advice and support to the Senate, the House of Representatives, Senators, Members and parliamentary committees.

DPS provides a range of support for the Parliament and for Parliament House. These include library and research services, information and communication technology services, security services, building, ground and design integrity services, audio visual and Hansard services, art services, visitor services, food and beverage services, retail, health, banking and childcare services.

The PBO supports the work of parliamentarians by providing independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget impact of policy proposals and by publishing reports on budget issues.


Under the PS Act, the Secretaries of the parliamentary departments have roles and responsibilities similar to those of Australian Public Service agency heads.

The appointment of the Clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives are made by the President and Speaker, respectively, after consulting Senators and members.

The Secretary of DPS is appointed by the Presiding Officers after receiving a report from the Commissioner.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer is appointed by the Presiding Officers after obtaining the approval of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.

The Secretary of the Department of the Senate is Mr Richard Pye, Clerk of the Senate, and the Secretary of the Department of the House of Representatives is Ms Claressa Surtees, Clerk of the House of Representatives. They are appointed for non-renewable terms of ten years. Mr Pye’s appointment is from 9 March 2017, and Ms Surtees’ from 12 August 2019.

Ms Jenny Wilkinson is the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Secretary of the PBO. Her appointment is for a term of four years from 24 July 2017.

Mr Rob Stefanic was appointed to the position of the Secretary of DPS and commenced his five year term on 14 December 2015.

Dr Dianne Heriot holds the office of Parliamentary Librarian. Dr Heriot was reappointed for a second five year term on 10 May 2017.


The four parliamentary departments are considering amendments to the Parliamentary Classification Rules 2010 to better align with the Public Service Classification Rules 2000. Once any proposed amendments have been agreed, the parliamentary departments will consult further with the Australian Public Service Commission.

Information and Communications Technology

The Parliamentary Information and Communication Technology Advisory Board (PICTAB) is an advisory body established in 2012. Its role is to provide guidance on the delivery of the Australian Parliament Digital Strategy 2019–2022. PICTAB membership includes parliamentarians and representatives from the parliamentary departments and the Parliamentary Service Commissioner.

PICTAB continues to function as an effective advisory group on ICT strategy and risk, along with advice on a number of programs including a pilot Office 365 and Windows 10 Cloud Solution for Electorate Offices and the creation of the Cyber Security Operations Centre in 2018–19.

PICTAB met four times in 2018–19. The Commissioner, or the Merit Protection Commissioner as the Commissioner’s representative, attended all PICTAB meetings during 2018–19.

Liaison between the Australian Public Service Commission and the Parliamentary Service

The Presiding Officers and Secretaries are informed of major initiatives taken by the Australian Public Service Commissioner in relation to employment in the Australian Public Service.

Representatives of the parliamentary departments and the APSC met throughout the year to discuss employment related issues.

Staffing and financial matters

All details relating to Parliamentary Service staffing and financial matters are provided in the respective departmental annual reports.

Any costs for the Commissioners are included within the overall financial results of the Australian Public Service Commission.

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