Sir Robert Randolph Garran (10 February 1867 – 11 January 1957) was an Australian lawyer who became "Australia's first public servant" – the first federal government employee after the federation of the Australian colonies.
He served as the departmental secretary of the Attorney-General's Department from 1901 to 1932, and after 1916 also held the position of Solicitor-General of Australia.
Garran was born in Sydney, the son of the journalist and politician Andrew Garran.
He studied arts and law at the University of Sydney and was called to the bar in 1891.
Garran was a keen supporter of the federation movement, and became acquainted with leading federalists like George Reid and Edmund Barton.
At the 1897–98 constitutional convention he served as secretary of the drafting committee.
On 1 January 1901, Garran was chosen by Barton's caretaker government as its first employee; for a brief period, he was the only member of the Commonwealth Public Service.
His first duty was to write the inaugural edition of the Commonwealth Gazette, which contained Queen Victoria's proclamation authorising the creation of a federal government.
Over the following three decades, Garran provided legal advice to ten different prime ministers, from Barton to Joseph Lyons.
He was considered an early expert in Australian constitutional law, and with John Quick published an annotated edition of the constitution that became a standard reference work.
Garran developed a close relationship with Billy Hughes during World War I, and accompanied him to the Imperial War Cabinet and the Paris Peace Conference.
Hughes, who was simultaneously prime minister and attorney-general, appointed him to the new position of solicitor-general and delegated numerous powers and responsibilities to him.
He received two knighthoods for his work, one in 1917 and one in 1920.
In addition to his professional work, Garran was also an important figure in the development of the city of Canberra during its early years.
He was one of the first public servants to relocate there after it replaced Melbourne as the capital in 1927.
He founded several important cultural associations, organised the creation of the Canberra University College, and later contributed to the establishment of the Australian National University.
Garran published at least eight books and many journal articles throughout his lifetime, covering such topics as constitutional law, the history of federalism in Australia, and German-language poetry.
He was granted a state funeral upon his death in 1957, the first federal public servant to receive one.