During the period that this guide covers, the Federal Capital Territory was administered by several different agencies. This list provides brief information about the agencies and the dates they were responsible for the Territory. Further information about the agencies can be found by searching the National Archives RecordSearch database using their Commonwealth agency (CA) numbers.
1 January 1901–14 November 1916
The Department of Home Affairs was established on 1 January 1901. It was one of the first seven Departments of State to be established when Australia became a Commonwealth. Amongst other functions it was responsible for Public Works and the Federal Capital. It administered the Seat of Government Act 1908, the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 and the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910.
Several branches within this department were responsible for administering the federal territory: Public Works Branch; Lands and Surveys Branch, Canberra; Lands and Survey Branch; Works Branch; FCT Administrative Offices.
When it was abolished in 1916 the function of administering the Federal Capital went to the Department of Home and Territories. Functions dealing with public works went to the Department of Works and Railways.
14 November 1916–10 December 1928
This department was responsible for the administration of the territories. Its main function with regard to the Federal Capital Territory was to establish the Seat of Government at Canberra. It oversaw the activities of the Federal Capital Commission.
14 Nov 1916–12 Apr 1932
This department, amongst other functions, was responsible for the design, construction, addition and maintenance of public buildings; and design and execution of engineering works. In this capacity it was responsible for the design and construction of all buildings in the Territory including the provisional Parliament House through the Director-General, Colonel P T Owen and Chief Architect, John Murdoch.
1 Oct 1913–28 Feb 1921
The Federal Capital Office came under the Minister for Works and Railways and its main function was to advise the Minister on the design of Canberra. Walter Burley Griffin was the head of the office as Director of Design and Construction. The Office was abolished in 1921 and Griffin's services were terminated. The advisory function was passed to the Federal Capital Advisory Committee and responsibility for design and construction went to the Department of Works and Railways.
26 Jan 1921–30 Jun 1925
The Federal Capital Advisory Committee was appointed to advise the Government on matters concerning the construction of the Federal Capital. The functions of the Committee were to inquire into and advise upon the following matters in relation to the construction of the Federal Capital at Canberra:
Its recommendations were executed by the local Works branch of the Department of Works and Railways. The Committee produced three reports, viz:
The final report was produced as a review of the Committee's operations overall, with the intention of explaining its principles to the body taking over its functions, the Federal Capital Commission.
1 Jan 1925–1 May 1930
The Federal Capital Commission was established on 1 January 1925 by the Seat of Government (Administration) Act No. 8 of 1924. The functions of the Commission as specified by the Act were:
By 1929 there were two main Divisions: the first, consisting of the Architect's Department and the Engineer's Department, under the Chief Commissioner; the second, consisting of Accounts, Commissariat, Clerical, Health, Hospital, Internal Audit and Lands and PropertyDepartments, under the Second Commissioner.