Portfolio overview

The parliamentary departments support the operation of the Parliament of Australia, its committees and members. There are four parliamentary departments: the Department of Parliamentary Services; the Department of the Senate; the Department of the House of Representatives; and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) is responsible for supporting the Parliament through the provision of a range of services, including library, research, Hansard, broadcasting, telecommunications, central computing, food and beverages, and building security and maintenance. Further information is available from the department’s website.

The departments of the House of Representatives and Senate support and provide advice to their respective chambers. The Parliamentary Budget Office is responsible for providing independent analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of proposals.

In the 2019–20 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), the aggregated budgeted expenses for the four parliamentary departments total $268.9 million. The PBS contain budgets for those entities in the general government sector that receive appropriations directly or indirectly through the annual appropriation acts.

The level of budgeted departmental and administered expenses, and the average staffing level for the parliamentary departments, is shown in Figure 1. DPS represents the largest proportion of the expenses, with departmental expenses being the most material component, representing 83 per cent of the entire portfolio’s expenses.

Figure 1: Parliamentary departments — total expenses and average staffing level by entity

Source: ANAO analysis of 2019–20 PBS.

Audit focus

In determining the 2020–21 audit work program, the ANAO considers prior-year audit and other review findings and what these indicate about entity risks and areas for improvement, and emerging risks from new investments, reforms or changes in the operating environment. In the parliamentary departments, considerations are predominantly related to ensuring the safe, secure and efficient functioning of the Parliament and Australian Parliament House, and delivering effective support for parliamentarians. This will include risks relating to achieving value-for-money procurement, cyber resilience, effective security compliance and controls, and asset management and sustainment.

Asset management and sustainment, and procurement

There are significant risks associated with the procurement, management, maintenance and security of land, buildings, plant and equipment within the Parliament House precinct.

Financial statement audits

Overview

The four parliamentary departments, and the risk profile of each entity, are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Parliamentary departments and risk profiles

 

Type of entity

Risk of material misstatement

Number of higher risks

Number of moderate risks

Material entities 

Department of Parliamentary Services

Non-corporate

Moderate

1

Non-material entities 

Department of the House of Representatives

Non-corporate

Low

 

Department of the Senate

Non-corporate

Low

Parliamentary Budget Office

Non-corporate

Low

     

Material entities

Department of Parliamentary Services

The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) is responsible for supporting the Parliament through the provision of a range of services including library, Hansard, broadcasting, communications, and building security and maintenance.

DPS’s total budgeted expenses for 2019–20 are just over $208 million, with employee benefits and supplier expenses representing 73 per cent of the department’s total budgeted expenses for 2019–20, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Department of Parliamentary Services’ total budgeted expenses by category ($’000)

 

Source: ANAO analysis of 2019–20 PBS.

The key risk for DPS’s 2019–20 financial statements that the ANAO has highlighted for specific audit coverage in 2019–20, and that the ANAO considers a potential key audit matter (KAM), is the valuation of land, buildings, plant and equipment. The significant value and the unique nature of the primary asset — Parliament House — increases the risk of accurately calculating the fair value (KAM – Valuation of Parliament House).