Heritage management, building and asset management and contract management
In its final report for the previous inquiry, the committee observed
that the vast majority of change to the Parliament House building, and the
maintenance of heritage values, is the responsibility of the Department of
Parliamentary Services (DPS). The committee concluded:
...DPS has not undertaken this important role to the standard
required by the Parliament, with the building being subject to many largely
unchecked decisions relating to architectural changes, configuration, design,
décor, furniture selection and disposal. There has been a lack of proper
regulated heritage assessment policies and a misunderstanding of the intrinsic
value of some items to the building and overarching design integrity.
The committee welcomed the intention of the then Secretary of DPS,
Ms Carol Mills, to make a significant shift in the way in which DPS
approached its responsibility for the building, with a heritage management
approach to be taken to planning and the overarching design of the building.
In the following section of the report the committee considers the
changes to the heritage management of the building which have occurred since
its final report in 2012.
Conservation Management Plan and
The committee's previous inquiry considered the Parliament House
Heritage Management Framework (Framework), which was approved by the Presiding
Officers in November 2011:
The Heritage Management Framework provides underpinning
principles to respond to the changing requirements of a working building. The
framework provides guidance for making decisions in relation to the management
of the Parliament House building, including its landscaped gardens, and
commissioned furniture, fabrics, artworks and craft.
The Framework provided for the establishment of a Heritage Advisory
Board, which had as members the Secretary of DPS, Usher of the Black Rod and
the Serjeant-at-Arms. The primary function of the Heritage Advisory Board was
to provide advice to the Presiding Officers on the heritage management of
The committee's 2012 interim and final reports noted the criticism of a
number of organisations and experts of the Framework. In October 2012,
prior to the committee tabling its final report, Ms Mills indicated that the
Framework would be replaced. Ms Mills informed the committee that there was a
need for a more robust process for long-term planning for the building and a
I have proposed and it was endorsed by the Heritage Advisory
Board in October that we should commence immediately the development of a
conservation management plan for the building based on the Burra Charter
principles...It is my recommendation and, as I said, which has been endorsed,
that we would develop a set of design principles, hopefully in consultation and
active participation of the architect and the architecture team who were
originally involved, so that we have a full set of what I might call [a] permanent
record of the core design principles around landscape, lighting, the building
design, the furniture integrity and so on.
Further detail on the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) and the Design
Principles was provided in DPS' Annual Report 2013-14:
The CMP will help deliver an integrated approach to the
medium and long term management and conservation of Parliament House. It will
set out the heritage values for the building and its furnishings, including the
intangible heritage values connected with significant events, [and] associations
created as part of its living history. The CMP will also establish supporting
policies and strategies, and monitoring and reporting regimes to ensure the
building is managed appropriately to both protect these heritage values and to
provide a functional environment which meets the needs of a working Parliament...
[The Design Principles] will become a permanent reference
source for the conservation of the building, its contents and surrounds. It
will be used to clarify original design intent, manage proposals for change and
influence planning controls for Parliament House.
DPS' Annual Report 2013-14 outlined the status of the CMP and the Design
Principles at that time, stating that a contract had been awarded for the
Design Principles in April 2014 and for the CMP in May 2014.
DPS anticipates that both documents will be completed around the middle of
In its report on the management of assets at Parliament House, the
Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) noted that, with the Framework
abandoned and the CMP yet to be completed, 'there has not been an overarching
framework guiding the management of heritage values in Parliament House since
In evidence to the committee, Mr Andrew Morris, Executive Director,
Performance Audit Services Group, ANAO, made the following observations about
the effect of the lack of guidance on heritage management:
By the time [the ANAO] went to do the audit, we would have
expected to see quite a sophisticated system in place for heritage management;
or at least be able to have good visibility about what the policies and
procedures were, how they had gone about making assessments, what the criteria
were for an assessment and then what the assessments had found. I think it made
it more difficult for [DPS] that the heritage management framework was
disbanded fairly quickly after it had been set up. Nevertheless, they did have
a heritage management team and they had a precursor to that team. We really
would have expected more consistency across capital works and the particular
heritage items. We were looking for some sort of evaluation of the heritage
management and some repository of heritage assessments. We could not see that.
I know that they are building towards this at this time. But that lack of a
framework for the 18 months or two years really has stopped their progress.
Heritage Advisory Board and the Expert Advisory Panel
In addition to endorsing the development of a CMP and the Design
Principles, the Heritage Advisory Board also endorsed the establishment of an
independent Expert Advisory Panel. The role of the Expert Advisory Panel is:
[T]o help guide the preparation of the Design Principles and
the CMP, using a best practice approach to ensure that a practical document is
prepared that will retain the heritage significance of the building while
The Heritage Advisory Board was subsequently discontinued in June 2014.
The ANAO provided the following assessment of the work of the Heritage Advisory
[Heritage Advisory Board] minutes, including the action
items, indicate that the board only partially fulfilled its roles. [The board]
only provided limited advice to the Presiding Officers on heritage matters and
was disbanded before the development of the final CMP and design principles.
With the [board] disbanded, the board's roles were reallocated within DPS to
the Building and Maintenance Division, with the final CMP to be approved by the
DPS has also established a dedicated heritage management team to 'focus
on the management of heritage and moral rights obligations'.
Mr Garry Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Asset Planning &
Performance Branch DPS, set out the experience of the heritage management team:
[P]eople were brought in from various departments with a wide
range of skills, including, a detailed knowledge of the [Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999]. People were recruited
with museum experience, and we also have people with longstanding knowledge of
the building already in the team around the design and the design of the
Central Reference Document
As discussed in Chapter 2, during the course of this inquiry the
committee pursued the progress of The Architect's Design Intent for
Parliament House, Canberra: Central Reference Document (CRD), which was the
subject of the committee's only recommendation in its 2012 interim report. DPS'
submission indicated that the completion of the CRD was not a priority for the
department and that the focus was now on developing the CMP:
[The CRD] does not include conservation policies and strategies,
or management guidelines. While it was originally felt that the CRD could be
used as a management document, its structure and narrative style is not suited
for this purpose.
[DPS] has engaged heritage expertise to prepare a
Conservation Management Plan (CMP). The CMP will...apply heritage best practice
principles to the management of the heritage values of Parliament House (which
include the design values of the building). A CMP is the recognised industry
best-practice tool to manage the heritage values of a place. The CMP will help
deliver a holistic and integrated approach to the medium and long term
management and conservation of Parliament House. The principal architect of
Parliament House, Mr Romaldo Giurgola AO, is being consulted during this process.
The development of the CMP is considered the highest priority
for managing the heritage of Parliament House. DPS has allocated funds to the
development of the CMP, rather than completion of the CRD, as the CMP will
provide clear management guidance. DPS does not intend to complete the CRD at
this stage. However, the CRD will be one of the primary source documents used
to develop the CMP, as well as remaining as a valuable resource document.
DPS' submission indicated that, like the CMP, the Design Principles 'are
to be generated from the work of, and discussions with Mr Giurgola'.
At the public hearing on 17 November 2014, the committee sought
clarification as to whether the CRD had been abandoned. Mr Neil Skill, then
First Assistant Secretary, Building and Asset Management, DPS, stated:
The CRD is already a substantial multivolume work and is one
of the primary source documents being used to develop the CMP as well as
remaining a valuable resource document. The next steps in the development of
the CRD will be considered in the new year , drawing on the learnings of
the CMP project.
As noted in Chapter 2, DPS was not successful in securing the additional
funds to complete the CRD pursuant to the committee's recommendation in its
2012 interim report. However, Ms Mills confirmed that DPS has sufficient funds
set aside without requiring a new policy proposal (NPP), to complete the CRD
once the CMP is complete:
[DPS] do not require an NPP to enact the spirit of the
recommendation [in the committee's interim report of June 2012], which is to
fund and complete the CRD...
[DPS] sought the money at the time [of the committee's
recommendation] and we were unable to secure it. We are conscious and committed
to doing all of the necessary support and documentation for this building. We
are doing it in a staged process. We expect to have the CMP completed early in
2015 and we will then sequentially, as we committed to two years ago, move to
completing the CRD, and we have set funds aside. Due to the ability of the
department to provide funding, we now have $15 million additional recurrent
operating funds thanks to the government decision in the budget for this year
that allows us to do this type of work.
Ms Mills reiterated the point that the completion of the CRD would be
considered following completion of the CMP and the Design Principles:
[DPS] were going to prioritise doing the conservation
management plan and also the design principles, which absolutely require the
active involvement of Mr Giurgola. Once those two are completed, which we
anticipate being early in the New Year, we will then review what aspects of the
CRD still require additional work, and we would then look to progress those.
At the public hearing on 16 March 2015, Mr Garry Gordon, Assistant Secretary,
Strategic Asset and Performance Branch, DPS, informed the committee that the
CMP and the Design Principles were being worked on in parallel and once those
two documents were completed DPS 'will have a good understanding of what
information we may need to explore for the [CRD]'.
Mr Gordon then stated that the CRD would be completed 'after or in parallel
with the last stages' of the CMP and the Design Principles and that DPS was
hoping to start work on the CRD this financial year, that is 2014-15, but the
work is likely to extend into the next financial year.
The committee expressed concern about Mr Giurgola's ability to
participate in the completion of the CRD, given his age and health.
Ms Mills noted that while the CRD required Mr Giugola's input, the original
authors of the CRD, Ms Berg and Mr Hal Guida, had worked with Mr
Moral rights consultations
The committee's 2012 interim and final reports considered the manner in
which DPS has carried out its obligations to consult with Mr Giurgola, as the
moral rights holder of the design of Parliament House, under the Copyright
Act 1968. The committee concluded that DPS' consultations with the building
architect have been 'less than satisfactory, and could even be viewed as
disrespectful, dismissive and contravening the requirements of the Copyright
[The] committee [considered] that Mr Giurgola has continued,
despite difficulties, to provide DPS with constructive input to projects. Often
this appears to have taken a great deal of his time and has been provided
without charge to DPS'.
The committee welcomed Ms Mills' commitment to changing the style of
engagement with Mr Giurgola.
The committee has not directly considered DPS' consultations with
Mr Guigola as the moral rights holder during the course of this inquiry.
However, the committee did receive some evidence about the moral rights consultations
for the security works around the Ministerial wing, during the course of its
inquiry into the proposed Parliament House security upgrade works.
The committee notes that moral rights consultations for the design of
Parliament House are now carried out by Mr Giurgola's nominees. In the case of
the security works, the primary contact for this consultation was Ms Berg.
In its report on the proposed Parliament House security upgrade works,
the committee expressed its disappointment that the urgency of parts of those
works meant that while the required moral rights consultation were undertaken,
there was no opportunity for the so-called 'nice to have' consultations.
It is now approaching three years since the then Secretary of DPS announced
the development of the CMP and the Design Principles. It is well over 12
months since the contracts for these documents were awarded and yet the CMP and
the Design Principles are still not finished.
Meanwhile, the CRD, which the committee recommended should be completed
nearly three years ago, languishes awaiting the finalisation of the CMP and the
In the absence of any form of overarching documentation on heritage
management there is reluctance within DPS to put in place any subordinate
policies and procedures for heritage management and, more generally, 'absence
of coordinated work' in this area.
DPS' achingly slow progress on finalising these documents has been to
the detriment of the heritage management of Parliament House. In the
committee's view, DPS' glacial progress on these matters has severely curtailed
its ability to engage with Mr Guirgola and to benefit from his full
participation in the consultation processes to develop all three of these
The committee is at a loss as to what further can be done in order to
impress upon DPS the importance of having these three key documents finished as
soon as possible. In relation to the CRD, the committee notes that Ms Berg has
stated that it will take a further two years to complete. The committee accepts
Ms Berg's estimate as an appropriate timeframe for completion of the CRD.
Further, until such time as the CMP, the Design Principles and the CRD
are complete, DPS should provide to the committee, prior to each estimates hearing,
an update on the status of each of these documents.
The committee recommends that DPS dedicate the necessary resources to
have the final Conservation Management Plan and the Design Principles completed
by 30 October 2015 and take the necessary steps to have the Central Reference
Document completed by 30 September 2017.
The committee recommends that prior to each estimates hearing, DPS
provide the committee with an update of the status of the Conservation Management
Plan, the Design Principles and the Central Reference Document. These updates
should continue to be provided until such time as all three documents are
The committee notes that there has been some improvement in the manner
in which DPS has carried out its obligations with regards to moral rights
consultations. The committee notes that DPS is endeavouring to have an 'ongoing
conversation' with Mr Giurgola and his nominees with regard to all works on
which moral rights consultation is required.
The committee is of the view it should be a very rare circumstance where the
so-called 'nice to have' discussions in conjunction with the required moral
rights consultation would not occur.
Building and asset management
In its 2012 final report, the committee was highly critical of DPS'
management of the Parliament House building and assets. The committee made a
number of recommendations in relation to building and asset management,
that the Presiding Officers table in both Houses, on a biennial
basis, a report devoted specifically to the building and its contents including
information on the condition of the building and its contents, costs of upkeep
of the building, heritage concerns and any other related matter (Recommendation
DPS undertake capability reviews in relation to design integrity,
project management and technical areas including fire safety and engineering
services (Recommendation 14);
DPS undertake an audit of fire safety in Parliament House and
consider reviewing the standard of building documentation (Recommendation 15); and
DPS undertake a full audit of the Parliament House status A and B
furniture with particular regard to condition, conservation measures, use of
furniture and past disposal practices (Recommendation 17).
As noted in Chapter 2, in the update provided by DPS in May 2015, both
Recommendations 13 and 15 are yet to be completed.
Report on the condition of the
Parliament House building (Recommendation 13)
In September 2014, DPS' submission noted, in relation to progress on
Recommendation 13, that DPS had received funding in the 2014-15 Budget to
conduct a full Building Condition Assessment Report which would 'provide a
point-in-time assessment of the condition of the building'.
At the public hearing on 17 November 2014, Mr Neil Skill, then First
Assistant Secretary, Building and Asset Management, DPS, highlighted the
importance of the Building Condition Assessment Report to form the basis for
the biennial report to be tabled by the Presiding Officers:
This assessment of the current state of the building provides
a robust basis for developing the detailed maintenance and refurbishment plans
and will form the basis of funding proposals to seek appropriate funding for
the iconic building as a working parliament into the future. The reports and
data collected will also enable DPS to establish regular, robust mechanics for
reporting on the standard of the building against heritage and other standards.
At the 2 March 2015 hearing Mr Skill explained further about the
Building Condition Assessment Report:
It is fairly voluminous—it has 14 different volumes of data
that has been collated across the precinct. We had specific areas of
expertise—engineering expertise or consultancy expertise—that came in and
provided their input into the development of that condition assessment report.
Essentially it has gone into...40 different areas of 'discipline' [and] has
assessed the status both from a physical perspective and from an operational
perspective of the infrastructure associated with the precinct. So we are
talking about the building itself, rather than any of the furniture for
example. We [included] fabrics, walls, flushometers and fire systems right
through to the structural integrity of different areas of the precinct et
cetera. It was very comprehensive, and quite deliberately so.
The Building Condition Assessment Report has been used to develop a
Strategic Asset Management Plan to 'outline the best methods to maintain and
enhance the condition of the building for the next twenty-five years'.
At the 17 November 2014 hearing, Mr Skill indicated the current
timeframes around the production of the Building Condition Assessment Report
and the Strategic Asset Management Plan:
A draft of the building condition report was received
recently and is currently being reviewed for completeness. It is expected the
final report will be provided before the end of this calendar year.
Concurrently, the strategic infrastructure management plan is being developed
based on those findings and subsequent analysis. The infrastructure management
plan will be provided in early 2015 and will form the basis of a proposal to
government for funding.
In May 2015, DPS stated that the response to Recommendation 13 was 'in
train' and provided the following update:
The Strategic Asset Management Plan was delivered 31 March
The Building Condition Assessment [Report] was delivered 2
The format and content of the report to Parliament is being
developed with the Presiding Officers.
The ANAO's report on the management of assets and contracts at
Parliament House described the Building Condition Assessment Report and the
development of the Strategic Asset Management Plan as:
[A] useful baseline for assessing the condition of Parliament
House assets, particularly as many engineering assets are reaching a critical
state in the asset management lifecycle. These processes should also provide a
way forward in managing Parliament House assets and prioritising acquisition,
replacement, refurbishment, and maintenance expenditures.
However, the ANAO continued:
While the [Building Condition Assessment Report and the
Strategic Asset Management Plan] can provide the high-level direction for
managing Parliament House assets, they will need to be supported by more robust
and integrated management practices than are currently in place, to ensure
effective asset management. In this regard, there is scope for significant
improvements in the department's asset management policies, procedures,
sub-plans (including capital works plan), systems and reporting arrangements.
Capability reviews (Recommendation
In relation to the capability reviews recommended in Recommendation 14
of the committee's 2012 final report, on 17 November 2014, Mr Skill informed
DPS has reviewed its project management and procurement areas
and, thanks to the availability of new funding this financial year, we are
advanced in the process of restructuring those business areas to resolve some
of the issues identified through the reviews and to best meet current and
future needs. The skills and qualifications required by DPS employees in those
roles have been reflected in revised duty statements for relevant positions,
new recruitment exercises and individual learning and development plans.
Mr Skill also noted:
It has become clear, through the capability reviews, that the
in-house teams have not been provided with the training or with clear direction
about how these works were to be delivered. As individual reviews are completed
recommendations have been considered and are being implemented expeditiously.
This has included the short-term engagement of technical specialists,
particularly in the fire safety and engineering fields, and project management
specialists to fill the capability and skills gaps identified through the
Specifically, in the Building and Asset Management Division
we have undertaken significant restructuring of project teams in response to
the findings of the capability reviews and the draft building condition report,
which provided evidence of some systemic poor practice, inadequate internal
oversight and, to some degree, a lack of in-house capability to deliver
outcomes, which has led to some unnecessary costs to the department over a
number of years. 
Mr Skill reiterated the point of the then Secretary, Ms Carol Mills, on
the difficulty of recruiting staff to DPS:
[The unnecessary costs to DPS are not only] financial but
have damaged the department's ability to attract and retain competent staff and
have had a progressively negative impact on the safety, security and quality of
However, Mr Skill expressed optimism about the changes:
I am confident that the changes we have introduced in these
areas will turn these results around. DPS was only able to begin quite slowly
on these reforms in 2013 because of its financial position, but thanks to the
additional recurrent funding received in the 2014-15 budget these changes have
In May 2015, DPS stated that the response to Recommendation 14 was now
The following actions have occurred:
Design Integrity – a specialist
Heritage management team was established in 2013, including qualified Heritage
The Project Management Section
restructure was completed July 2014 including the recruitment of a Director
with Fire Engineer experience.
Appropriate additional short
[term] fire and engineering resources are engaged on an as needed basis.
Audit of fire safety
In relation to the audit of fire safety (Recommendation 15), in November
2014, Mr Skill stated:
To date DPS has spent just over $1 million on fire safety
with a further $5 million scheduled on fire upgrades and enhancement in
the coming months. A component of the building condition report is a
point-in-time audit of the condition of the building's fire services, and the
draft [Building Condition Assessment Report] has identified that substantial
works will be required to be consistent with the scheduled fire upgrades and
enhancements. So, it has identified that we are on the right track with regard
to those. To support this work the strategic infrastructure management plan
will outline the most appropriate methods and risk based timing to upgrade,
enhance and maintain the building, including fire services, over the coming
Mr Skill noted that new building documentation systems were being
considered as part of the CMP and the strategic asset management plan reports.
In May 2015, DPS indicated the response to Recommendation 15 would be
complete by June 2015:
Priority work completed in September 2014. Further work will
be completed between November 2014 and June 2015.
The approach to upgrading the system has been revised to draw
upon the Building Information Modelling (BIM) capabilities, now and scope being
developed as a component of the [Conservation Management Plan] work.
Status A and B furniture audit
At the public hearing on 17 November 2014, Mr Skill informed the
DPS proactively commenced a full audit of status A and B
furniture in Parliament House, including assets owned by the chamber
departments. The audit was completed on 14 August 2014. Work was delayed
following the 2013 federal election and the commencement of the 44th Parliament
as DPS staff were unable to gain ready access to items under the management of
the chamber departments at that time. We believe that all status A and B
furniture should be assets owned and retained by DPS in line with other assets
of Parliament House.
At the 2 March 2015 hearing there was some discussion on the cataloguing
and tracking of all assets within Parliament House, not just Status A and B
The discussion related to the findings in the ANAO report regarding asset disposal,
and particularly the consideration of heritage value at disposal:
In 2013-14, DPS disposed of 629 assets...
To assess DPS' consideration of heritage value at disposal,
the ANAO selected 24 items (out of a total of 629 assets) recorded as being
disposed of in 2013-14. The majority of these assets were in categories that do
not require a heritage assessment prior to disposal. As such, the ANAO's sample
was selected based on judgement of the type of items that may have required a
heritage evaluation at the time of disposal.
Of the 24 items sampled by the ANAO, only two had been
disposed of through the department's formal disposal processes. The other 22
items were identified through DPS' annual stocktake process and removed from
the asset register (and therefore may not have had a required assessment of
cultural heritage value). Of these 22 items: eight were written off because DPS
had not found the items since the previous stocktake; 13 items were identified
by operational staff as having been disposed of or replaced as part of recent
refurbishments; and one was identified as having been disposed of or replaced
as part of general operations.
When questioned about this, Mr Skill argued that the 22 items which the
ANAO identified as not going through the formal disposal process may not have
been disposed of:
Out of the 24 items [the ANAO] sampled, two had been disposed
of through the formal disposal process. That means that they physically left
the building. The other 22 were identified through the annual stocktake
process. There was an assessment of where the items were. From that, there were
eight that were written off because they could not find them in the 2012-13
stocktake and, subsequently, they could not find them again in the 2013-14
Mr Skill explained why he believed the items were still in the building:
Some of these are [heritage items], because the date of
1988-89. That is why I am confident that they are still in the building. The
issue is that the stocktake may not have had access to the areas where those
items are now held. That raises the question of how we get a clearly valid
stocktake when we cannot get into large areas of the building. That is a bigger
question. If we talk about what these eight items [which were written off] are
and where they went, we do not know where they are because we cannot access
everywhere in the precinct. But, I will give evidence today that they have not
left the precinct. They are somewhere in the building.
Mr Skill noted that technology such as radio-frequency identification
(RFID) was available to track assets, but that would not be a viable option for
tracking all furniture within Parliament House as DPS did not have access to
all areas of the building where furniture was stored:
You can use technology like RFID tagging, which has been in
place for a long time now, and it is not overly expensive, but there is no
value in doing that unless we can guarantee that we have [access to] the entire
precinct. We could do the DPS parts, but we cannot do the Senate parts, and we
cannot do the House of Representatives parts. Without access to the entire
precinct, we cannot sit in these fora and say, 'Yes, we've captured everything
and this is what we think we are missing,' and 'This is what we don't think we
Mr Skill noted that access had been granted across the building for the
purposes of the Status A and B furniture audit.
The information provided by DPS in the May 2015 update reiterated
Recommendation 17 was complete. In addition:
DPS will continue to explore options for a comprehensive
tracking system of status A and B furniture.
The committee accepts that DPS has made a considered effort to address
the recommendations in relation to building and asset management in the
committee's 2012 final report. Further, the committee acknowledges that, until
the 2014-15 Budget, DPS' progress in responding to these recommendations was
constrained by its financial position. The committee also note the difficulties
that DPS is having in recruiting staff.
However, the committee is concerned that DPS has not been able to
complete its response to these recommendations. Further, the committee is
concerned, given the ANAO's assessment, that there is a danger that the
progress that has been made, such as the Building Condition Assessment Report
and the Strategic Asset Management Plan, may be of little use due to a lack of
robust and integrated management practices and the need for significant
improvement to DPS' asset management policies and procedures.
While the committee accepts the evidence from DPS that it is working to
address these issues,
this is obviously an area that needs to be monitored closely. The committee is
putting DPS on notice that it will be following up with regards to the status
of all governance policies and procedures through the estimates process.
It appears that there is some reluctance on DPS' part to undertake a
comprehensive system of asset tracking and management on the basis that DPS does
not have access to all areas of Parliament House. Essentially, DPS has argued
that although the technology exists for this purpose, and such technology would
not be overly expensive, a DPS stocktake is not a sufficient reason to impose
on the chamber departments on a regular basis.
The committee does not agree. While the committee accepts that an initial
cataloguing and stocktake of all assets in Parliament House may be an onerous
task, DPS has the responsibility and expertise to conduct such a task. In the
committee's view, it would then simply be a matter of performing a periodic
stocktake, for example every three years, for all areas of Parliament House.
The committee recommends that DPS perform a stocktake of all assets in
all areas of Parliament House once every three years.
The committee looks forward to the Presiding Officers tabling the
inaugural report into the condition of Parliament House and its contents in the
The committee's first interim report referred to the findings of the
ANAO with regards to contract management by DPS. The ANAO concluded there had
been little improvement in DPS' contract management framework, processes or
capabilities since the committee's 2012 final report.
Given the comprehensive analysis undertaken by the ANAO in its report and the
recommendations that it has made in relation to improving contract management
at DPS, the committee does not intend to duplicate the work of the ANAO. The committee's
focus is concluding its examination of the process to select Ms Anne Zahlaka
for the contract for the photographic commission for the 25th
Anniversary of Parliament House.
Photography commission for the 25th
Anniversary of Parliament House
The committee's first interim report set out in detail the background to
the photography commission for the 25th Anniversary of Parliament
Briefly, in August 2013, DPS commissioned Ms Zalhalka to take a
series of 10 photographs to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of
Parliament House. Ms Zahalka was paid $30,000 for the commission. The
Parliamentary Library subsequently purchased a further two photographs, for a
total of $10,000, from Ms Zahalka. At the Supplementary Estimates hearing
in October 2014 it was drawn to the committee's attention that Ms Zahalka
was, in fact, a neighbour of Ms Mills, who was at the time the Secretary
of DPS. The committee questioned Ms Mills and other DPS officers about the
process which was used to select Ms Zahalka for the commission, given that
she was personally known to the Secretary. The committee was informed that
there was a substantive gap in the documentation regarding the commissioning
process and there were no records of the reasons for the decisions for
commissioning Ms Zahalka.
As the committee noted in its conclusions on this matter in its first
interim report, questions remained as to the events which lead to Ms Anne
Zahalka being selected to undertake the photography commission. At a public
hearing on 14 May 2015, Ms Myra Croke, Chief Operating Officer, DPS and Ms
Fiona Bowring-Greer, Director, Operations Division, DPS, gave further evidence
regarding this matter.
Additional payments provided for in
The committee sought clarification on provisions in the contract between
DPS and Ms Zahalka which appear to enable Ms Zahalka to sell editioned
copies of the work which were not exclusive to DPS. On notice, DPS provided the
following explanation of the contract term:
The contract term that stipulates the number of photographs
that can be editioned by the artist only pertains to the ten photographs (the
Goods) to which the Commonwealth is entitled.
Of those ten images, three are exclusive to the Commonwealth.
The terms of the contract allow for an edition of no more than five copies of
each of the remaining seven images that comprise the Goods.
The contract makes no provision for editioning or exclusivity
of any other images taken in the course of the commission.
The two images purchased by the Parliamentary Library do not
come within the scope of the Goods under the contract, and do not impact on the
contract terms that allow for editioning as described above.
The contract with Ms Zahalka also provided for royalty fees to be
paid in relation to the commercialisation of certain items:
There was an agreement that there would not be any additional
payment to the supplier for reproducing goods on commercial paper products—such
as posters, cards and calendars—and for online or digital purposes. But the
reproduction of goods on other commercial products, such as T-shirts, mugs and
iPad covers would be done in consultation with her[.]
On notice, DPS advised that no royalty fee has been paid to Ms Zahalka:
No royalty fee has been paid to Ms Zahalka for use of the images
on merchandise or for any other purpose.
The only costs paid by DPS [were]: $30,000 for the
commission, an additional $10,000 for the photographs purchased by the
Parliamentary Library, and a one-off payment of $1425.24 to reimburse the
artist for costs incurred during a second visit to Canberra.
Documentation of the commissioning
At the public hearing on 14 May 2015, the committee also canvassed the
discrepancies in documentation in relation to the commissioning of
Ms Zahalka which DPS provided to the ANAO as part of its audit and those
documents it provided to the committee in January 2015 in an answer to a
question on notice. Ms Croke provided the following explanation:
It came to my attention sometime after the last hearing [on
16 March 2015] that, in giving evidence last time, I had indicated that I
thought the response to our question No. 27 [received by the committee on 30
January 2015] was largely consistent with what the ANAO had in their time line,
even though we had had a discussion about the fact that that ANAO time line was
constructed by the ANAO for their report, based on a whole lot of documents
they had. It was only when it came to my attention—and I looked at it very
closely afterwards—and I had time to thoroughly check it through, that I
realised that in fact there were some draft documents listed in the ANAO time
line that we had not provided to the committee. So I got people to go back
through our TRIM [records management] system and spend some time actually
checking what happened to each of those documents. Ms Bowring-Greer [Director,
Operations Division, DPS] was also aware of one of those documents, and had
brought to my attention that one of them had not made it through to the [DPS] Secretary
at all. So we attempted to go through and really get to the nub of all of those
documents and clarify that for the committee[.]
Ms Croke stated that the documents provided to the committee in the
answer to the question on notice were all final versions of documents that had
been given to the Secretary:
The additional documents we have identified this time are
drafts. There were two drafts and I think there was one letter. Two of them
were in fact draft documents that never, ever got—probably—beyond the person
who drafted them, or beyond their supervisor.
Ms Croke outlined the reason that this particular issue had arisen:
The difficulty we have with our system of filing on TRIM is
that it stores every draft document from the very first rough draft that
somebody at quite junior level might create on the system, right through to the
final version that gets through and might go all the way up to the secretary,
or even to the Presiding Officers. Unless people carefully label those
documents on the way through, it is not always clear how far the document
got—as to whether it was in fact a very rough draft or it was in fact the
With regards to the missing documentation for the three month period
from March to June 2013, DPS confirmed that it was not possible for documents
to have been accidently deleted from the records management system:
Documents created or saved in TRIM remain in the system as
DPS records unless they are disposed of consistent with the policies and
guidance of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). The [department's
Governance Paper on the Disposal of Records by Normal Administrative Practice
(NAP)] states that records on TRIM can only be deleted by Records Management
Unit staff and the Database Administrator, ICT.
Records cannot be deleted accidently. The process requires
staff to email a record removal request to TRIM administration. An assessment
is then made to ensure the request complies with disposal requirements. If
valid, the record is moved to a NAP folder, it is not deleted immediately.
Records are kept in the NAP folder for a period of time, as a precaution in
case a record has been wrongly identified for disposal. Following authorised
disposal of a record, metadata relating to the record is retained (e.g. details
such as the document, the date of creation, the author and the date of
DPS has a NAA authorised records disposal authority for all
our records. All records in TRIM have a business classification that is linked
to the records disposal authority. The classification determines how long a
record is kept (the retention period). When records reaches the end of their
retention period a report is submitted to a branch head or above, requesting
approval to destroy the records. When a record is destroyed, the metadata is
retained in TRIM as a record of the action.
Ms Bowring-Greer acknowledged that the process for commissioning of the
photographs by Ms Zahalka could be improved on.
However, Ms Croke noted that it would be impossible to give an assurance that
such a situation would never arise again:
The assurance I can give you is that we have procedures,
systems and controls in place to try and minimise the chances of it occurring.
I do not think I can give an assurance that it will never ever happen in DPS. I
do not think any department could give you that assurance. But we can say we
are doing a lot of work to put appropriate controls in place to minimise the
chances of this occurring and to ensure staff are trained and knowledgeable
about what they are doing.
Ms Croke outlined some of the work that DPS are doing to address the
shortcomings which had been identified in this commissioning process:
We have made quite a lot of changes in the procurement space
of late. We have got a complete new set of financial delegations, which were
issued from 1 January and were reissued just recently with some very minor
changes. Sitting underneath those we have agency advice instructions which we
are required to have under the [Public Governance, Performance and
Accountability (PGPA) Act 2013]. That is standard for any agency in the
Commonwealth and we have those in place.
We have also recently reissued a very comprehensive set of procurement
manuals based on the ANAO better practice guide. We have conducted training for
staff on procurement and contract management. It is a two-day training course
run by the Public Service Commission. We had training sessions in February and
again in April. We have had a fairly large number of staff trained in that
We have also started setting up a regular discussion with all
of our contract managers and people who are doing procurement regularly. We are
calling it a practitioners forum. We are meeting roughly quarterly. We held the
first meeting just a few weeks ago. The idea of that is to keep building on all
the training that we have so that we continue the learning. We have a
discussion with all the contract managers across the department about what we
are finding is occurring in terms of practice, the sorts of learnings that we
gain through both our procurement team and our legal team and the work they are
doing with all the areas across the department. We are trying to increase the
knowledge and the learning base on an ongoing and continuing basis.
Ms Croke noted that DPS has also invited the ANAO back to do a follow-up
audit, which would probably occur in the 2016 calendar year. Ms Croke also
indicated that DPS are considering an internal audit towards the end of this
year 'to look at contracts that have been put in place this year to make sure
we are actually improving'.
Ms Croke also referred to recruitment within the procurement team and
changes to record keeping systems as other areas that DPS had addressed:
[W]e have also built up the procurement team within the CFO
branch, so we have a good team of people there who are very familiar with
procurement. The procurement team and the legal team are working very closely
together on issues as they occur, and that is what we are feeding back in to
the contract practitioners group to try and train staff around the sorts of
issues that are coming up across the department and to keep staff informed. You
cannot just conduct training for contract management and wheel people through
their two-day training in February and think they are fine and that they do not
need any more. They actually need some reinforcement of what they are doing and
some further guidance as things change. As an organisation, as we learn about
how we can do things more effectively we will cover that.
In terms of record keeping, if you are conducting a
procurement, the procurement manual clearly sets out the nature of the records
we should be keeping. We have already rolled out some changes to the SAP
system. We now have finance running on SAP, and all of the procurement and
payment arrangements will be fully up by the end of June. We are consciously
trying to reinforce that records are kept either in SAP, which is our payment
and [human resources] system, or within the TRIM system, so we should have a
thorough record-keeping system as we go forward. I think that is the one area
that we still need to do some work on.
The committee can find no redeeming aspect in relation to the process to
select an artist for the photographic commission for the 25th
Anniversary of Parliament House.
The evidence the committee received since its first interim report
merely highlights the continuing problems that DPS has with contract management
practices. While the committee understands that DPS are working to address
these issues, the committee finds it inexplicable that there has been so little
improvement in DPS' contract management since the committee's 2012 final
The committee notes that DPS has invited the ANAO back to undertake a
follow up audit and this is likely to occur in the 2016 calendar year. In the
committee's view a follow-up audit is essential to determine whether DPS'
actions to address its contract management issues have resulted in any
improvement in this area.
The committee also notes that DPS has discussed the possibility of
carrying out an internal audit of the contracts put in place in 2015 to ensure
that contract management within DPS is improving. The committee strongly
supports an internal audit and recommends that DPS provide a copy of the audit
report to the committee.
The committee recommends that the Australian National Audit Office
undertake a follow-up audit of DPS' contract management in 2016.
The committee recommends that DPS conduct an internal audit of contracts
put in place in 2015 and provide a copy of the audit report to the committee by
1 February 2016.
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