Implementation of the Parliamentary Resolutions Arising From the Review by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner of Aspects of the Administration of the Parliament
The audit objectives were to report on the implementation status of the parliamentary resolutions and other actions arising out of the six recommendations made in the final PSC Report, Review by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner of Aspects of the Administration of the Parliament. The audit also broadly examined the impact of implementation of the parliamentary resolutions on aspects of: the level of services provided to the Parliament generally following amalgamation of the three former parliamentary departments into the Department of Parliamentary Services; and accommodation space within Parliament House. The designated audit agency was the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS).
In April 2002, the Parliamentary Service Commissioner was commissioned by the Presiding Officers—the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives—to review the administration of the Parliament. The Parliamentary Service Commissioner presented an interim report, dealing only with security matters at Parliament House, to the Presiding Officers in June 2002. The matters raised in this interim report were ultimately considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing and the resolutions arising from the Committee's review were endorsed and adopted by the Senate on 18 November 2002.
The Parliamentary Service Commissioner presented his final report, Review by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner of Aspects of the Administration of the Parliament (PSC Review), to the Presiding Officers on 30 September 2002. The report was subsequently tabled in the Parliament on 23 October 2002.
The final PSC Review made six major recommendations and five associated part recommendations aimed at improving parliamentary administration. The main areas covered by the PSC Review were: security; management and corporate functions; purchasing; amalgamation of the three service departments; independence of the library; and the arrangements to manage the implementation process.
The final PSC Review was subsequently also considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing. The Committee's recommendations arising from this review were then passed, as a series of resolutions, in each House of the Parliament in August 2003.
This performance audit, Implementation of the Parliamentary Resolutions Arising From the Review by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner of Aspects of the Administration of the Parliament, arose out of advice by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA), in August 2003, that the administration of the parliamentary departments represented an audit priority of the Parliament.
The audit objectives were to report on the implementation status of the parliamentary resolutions and other actions arising out of the six recommendations made in the final PSC Report, Review by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner of Aspects of the Administration of the Parliament.
The audit also broadly examined the impact of implementation of the parliamentary resolutions on aspects of:
- the level of services provided to the Parliament generally following amalgamation of the three former parliamentary departments into the Department of Parliamentary Services; and
- accommodation space within Parliament House.
The designated audit agency was the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS).
Security (Chapter 2)
The ANAO observed that there had been an improvement in the management and coordination of Parliament House security services since the Senate's acceptance of the Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing report that reviewed the Parliamentary Service Commissioner's June 2002 interim report on security, and the November 2002 Presiding Officers' decision to establish the Security Management Board (SMB) as a permanent body and to centralise the security function within one parliamentary department.
The security function is now centrally located in DPS and the SMB has an overarching management role in the formulation of policies and procedures and in the monitoring of key aspects of service provision. In addition, the SMB has sought expert advice when formulating changes or enhancements to security arrangements and has similarly sought to include security experts in its membership.
There are some outstanding issues to be addressed by DPS, for example, matters associated with the transfer of security related funding. However, DPS advised that these matters have not adversely impacted on the provision of day-to-day operational security services. Further, the ANAO suggests that there is scope for other improvements that could be initiated by DPS, such as the SMB adopting a security strategic plan, and consideration of the development and implementation of a form of service level agreement for the provision of physical security services with each of the Chamber departments (the Department of the Senate and the Department of the House of Representatives).
The ANAO found that the substance of the PSC Review Recommendation 1 and the consequent Presiding Officer's decisions in November 2002 in relation to physical security have been met.
Amalgamation (Chapter 3)
The ANAO acknowledges the significant efforts undertaken by DPS to form the new department as a result of the amalgamation of the three former service provision departments.
Amalgamation was a significant organisational change, with a potential to affect services to the Parliament. A Transition Steering Group (TSG) was established to oversee transition tasks for the amalgamation, and the new DPS Executive Committee also had a significant role in establishing the new policies for DPS. However, the ANAO considers that a more formal planning process could have been put in place to assist with the implementation of the amalgamation.
The ANAO found in relation to the establishment of a shared services centre, that whilst consideration of personnel processing by DPS for the Chamber departments occurred in February 2005, the parliamentary departments decided, around this time, to choose differing Human Resource Management Information Systems. A similar situation has occurred in relation to the Financial Management Information Systems. This has not provided a foundation for the parliamentary departments to efficiently move in the future towards a shared services centre.
The PSC Review estimated that the amalgamation of the departments would generate cost efficiencies in the order of $5 million to $10 million a year once fully implemented. A 2003–04 Budget decision reduced appropriations to the parliamentary departments by approximately $6 million per annum commencing in 2004–05, which DPS has absorbed. Of this amount, DPS has identified approximately $2 million per annum as savings directly attributable to the amalgamation, offset by the estimated $1.6 million cost of amalgamation as at 30 January 2006. While not all the efficiencies envisaged by the PSC Review have been realised, DPS nevertheless absorbed reductions of approximately $6 million per annum in departmental appropriations and advised that there were only minor changes to its services.
The Parliamentary Library (Chapter 4)
The parliamentary resolutions specifically covered three areas associated with the operations of the Parliamentary Library. The parliamentary resolutions encouraged the creation of the statutory position of the Parliamentary Librarian; supported the reinforcement of the independence of the Parliamentary Library by strengthening the role of the Library committees; and, required the development of an annual resourcing and services agreement.
The ANAO found that two of the three parliamentary resolutions regarding the Parliamentary Library have been implemented. In respect to the outstanding matter, the DPS Secretary and the Parliamentary Librarian plan to implement an annual resourcing and services agreement, which will commence with the 2006–07 financial year.
The Senior Management Coordination Group (Chapter 5)
Two PSC Review recommendations that specifically referred to responsibilities of the Senior Management Coordination Group (SMCG) were not included in the August 2003 parliamentary resolutions.
PSC Review Recommendation 3, for the SMCG to assume greater responsibility for the coordination of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) had not been adopted. The SMCG did, however, continue to receive reports from the DPS ICT adviser and the Web Managers' Group. The ANAO also noted that a DPS and Parliament-wide ICT strategic plan was still to be developed. The ANAO considers that the establishment of the new Strategic Planning and Policy area in DPS is an important initiative that could provide resources and other assistance to allow the SMCG to assume a more strategic focus on ICT issues. DPS advised that due to its significant role in the management of ICT, it is in the process of addressing a number of the responsibilities of coordinating ICT for Parliament House.
The second PSC Review recommendation, number 4, not included in the parliamentary resolutions was that formal responsibility for procurement of common items be given to the SMCG. The ANAO noted that the process for coordinating procurement across the parliamentary departments was still largely an informal process.
Measurement of client services (Chapter 6)
The ANAO notes that a framework is in place to measure and report service levels in respect of the number, time expended and the price of the delivery of services. However, the ANAO considers that there is scope to improve how service levels are measured by including timeliness or responsiveness indicators as part of quality assessments.
An independent survey could objectively measure client satisfaction across all areas of DPS services. The ANAO considers that a survey of the 41st Parliament could provide a measure of client satisfaction in a post-amalgamation environment.
Documented levels of service for key services could provide an avenue for consultation on services required, timeliness, number and cost. A service level agreement with key stakeholder groups, once developed, could be used in monitoring service levels, simultaneously providing a management tool and a client service reporting regime.
DPS has advised the ANAO that it will be reviewing its performance indicators in the near future. The ANAO also noted that the DPS Certified Agreements specified Continuous Improvement Reviews as one method for developing more cost-effective and efficient service delivery.
Parliament House accommodation (Chapter 7)
Parliament House is a unique work location, serving the needs of 226 Parliamentarians in enabling them to represent the people and make laws. Parliament House was officially opened on 9 May 1988.
The ANAO notes that since 1984 there have been nine reviews/inquires into accommodation space in the new Parliament House. Central to all of the accommodation reviews is the shortfall of accommodation space within Parliament House. The reviews found that there are numerous factors contributing to this situation, including increased numbers of parliamentary staff and Parliamentary Secretaries, and changing needs of clients. The ANAO notes that staffing numbers in the parliamentary departments have not yet declined significantly since the PSC Review was presented to the Presiding Officers. In 2006, the SMCG outlined a strategy to assess short and long-term accommodation requirements of all occupants of Parliament House.
Overall audit conclusion
Overall, the ANAO concluded that eight of the nine parliamentary resolutions arising out of the final PSC Review have been partly or fully implemented. The ANAO acknowledges the significant effort made by DPS to implement the parliamentary resolutions.
The audit report contains one recommendation aimed at improving the measurement and reporting of DPS service levels.
The ANAO also identified for consideration, some aspects of the administration of the Parliament that would benefit from further strengthening, including: greater strategic planning in relation to Parliament House security and ICT; and more formal processes for planning major initiatives and procurement of common items.
DPS' response to the audit
The development of measurable indicators for the nature, timeliness, numbers and cost of its key services would assist monitoring and reporting and would also be more generally useful. These indicators should ideally be developed in consultation with key stakeholder groups, but there may be some difficulties with identifying or consulting with some of those groups. As a result, agreements on measurable indicators will generally be between DPS and the Presiding Officers.
Substantial work done since the creation of DPS to clarify and rationalise the services provided by DPS has laid the groundwork for the development of indicators as recommended.
DPS' full response is detailed in the report at Appendix 3.