The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 requires that the Librarian and the Secretary DPS make an annual agreement specifying the resources that will be provided to the Library.1 The Agreement must be made between the Secretary and the Parliamentary Librarian, and approved by the Presiding Officers in writing after receiving advice about its contents from the JSCPL.
The Resource Agreement helps assure the Parliamentary Librarian’s continued independence and enables parliamentary scrutiny of the Library’s resourcing.
The 2019–20 agreement was signed by the Parliamentary Librarian and Secretary DPS in June 2019; its consideration by the JSCPL and the Presiding Officers was delayed due to the election. The JSCPL considered the Resource Agreement at its first meeting (19 September 2019) and resolved that the Joint Chairs write to the Presiding Officers recommending its approval. The Presiding Officers approved the Agreement on 6 December 2019.
The Resource Agreement 2019–20 provided:
an operating budget of $16.142 million (including revenue from Inter Library Loans)
a capital budget (used for the Library collection and minor capital projects) of $3.617 million, and
an Average Staffing Level (ASL) of 143.32.
Actual expenditure was $15.690 million in operational funding (an underspend of $0.452 million) and $3.642 million in capital funding (an overspend of $0.026 million).
Employee costs accounted for the majority of the Library’s budget, with the remaining funds largely spent on the collection.
Expenditure on the library collection in 2019–20 was:
information resources (including database and news services subscriptions)—$2.176 million (operational funding)
reference serials and monographs—$0.499 million (capital funding)
digitisation—$0.705 million (capital funding)
press clips—$0.194 (capital funding).
The major pressures on the Library’s budget in 2019–20 were cost increases for collection resources of around 5 per cent over the previous financial year, compounded by significant foreign exchange fluctuations creating a degree of unpredictability. Both affected the Library’s purchasing power. At 30 June, the collection budget was overspent by 5 per cent ($126,219): this enabled the Library to renew collection resources despite vendor-imposed price increases and currency losses. The underspend from employee costs was directed to the collection allocation for this purpose.
With regard to employee costs, collectively, at 30 June 2020, the Library underspent on employee costs by 5 per cent (excluding capitalised salaries), representing 11.47 ASL. (This figure includes staff who moved temporarily to the DPS COVID-19 Taskforce or to Services Australia.) Recruitment paused during the initial stages of the pandemic response. This enabled Library management at all levels to focus on ensuring safe work arrangements for staff and continuity of service to the Parliament. (Recruitment activity re-commenced in May/June, but too late to affect the end of year outcome.) Finally, as a result of the Federal Budget being moved to October 2020, the Library did not engage the cohort of non-ongoing staff which it would normally deploy between April and July to help deal with this annual period of peak demand.
There was a small overspend in capital funds of $0.026 million. Three capital projects were overspent, Integrated Library System Project, Library Databases, and Collection Acquisitions. This is in part due to a decision to purchase in the last quarter of the year more digital materials to support clients working remotely. (Digital monographs are generally more expensive than print.) The Integrated Library System project experienced a number of delays due to COVID-19. As table 31 shows, the remaining projects were underspent, again reflecting the impact of the pandemic upon vendor and DPS resources. This is discussed in the following section of the report.
A more detailed breakdown of budget and actual expenditure can be found in the financial tables 28-31.
Figure 16: Parliamentary Library Budget (resource agreement) and expenditure 2016–17 to 2019–20
The Library collection is formally revalued every three years by an independent professionally qualified valuer, using the fair value principle and in accordance with the Finance Minister’s Orders. As at 30 June 2018, the fair value worth of the Library collection was $6.8 million, and the replacement value was $14.6 million.
Figure 17: Parliamentary Library budget 2005–06 to 2019–20
The Librarian and the Secretary DPS agreed the Library’s 2020–21 Resource Agreement on 6 June 2020. It was considered by the JSCPL at its meeting of 12 June 2020 and signed by the Presiding Officers on 26 June and 21 July 2020. The Library will receive:
operational funding: $16.449 million
capital funding: 3.825 million
The operational funding for 2019–20 and 2020–21 represent slight increases in current price terms although below the costs increases noted above. As is evident from Figure 17, this reflects a longer term decline in operational funding when assessed in constant price terms.