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The Senate Public Information Office (SPIO) produces and publishes an array of information resources so that people may understand and engage in the work of the Senate. 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 digest information.

SPIO also coordinates the department’s involvement in forums and projects affecting the production and dissemination of Senate and departmental information resources.

During 2017–18, the oversight of SPIO moved from the Clerk’s Office to the Clerk Assistant (Table) and it was established as a stand-alone element of the department’s organisational structure.

The cost of the office for 2017–18 was $1.2m ($1.2m in 2016–17).

In this reporting period, the office’s work to develop and publish information resources included:

  • publication of the Dynamic Red (with enhanced information available), the sitting week summary resources Week Ahead and Senate Daily Summary
  • management of the ParlWork application, including identifying further enhancements to be implemented in the next reporting period
  • further development of the Senate Connect intranet, which provides practical and procedural resources for senators and their staff, and the Senate department’s intranet, SENNET, which provides procedural, administrative and policy materials required by our staff
  • commencing work on redeveloping the PEO website, and
  • producing video, print and web resources for the PEO, and continuing to develop the Senate Discovery series.

During the reporting period SPIO continued its collaborative work with the Departments of Parliamentary Services and the House of Representatives on a number of ICT projects to enhance the systems that underpin our work and to create new resources, including:

  • the redevelopment of the department’s statistical collection StatsNet
  • the creation of ‘Live Estimates’, a resource to enable senators and the public to follow in real time, the progress of estimates hearings, akin to the Dynamic Red which tracks proceedings in the Senate each sitting day
  • the creation of the online searchable database for estimates questions on notice
  • enhancements to committee office systems and continued rollout of the committee report builder, a new application to improve the production and publishing of committee reports
  • enhancements to the Table Office Production System (TOPS), and
  • participation in foundation projects that improve information and data management capabilities of the Parliament, including the Common Data Access Platform.

The new StatsNet and Live Estimates programs will be implemented early in the next reporting period. Other projects including the estimates questions on notice database and enhancements to TOPS were delivered in this reporting period.