Purpose and outcome
The purpose of the PBO, articulated in section 64B of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 and set out in the Corporate Plan 2018–19, is to inform the Parliament by providing independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of policy proposals. This is also the PBO’s outcome. Our purpose comprises three main elements, which are to:
- enable fiscal impacts to be considered during policy development by providing policy costing and budget analysis services to all parliamentarians
- improve public understanding of budget and fiscal policy issues by conducting and publishing research in these areas
- enhance transparency around election commitments by preparing a post-election report on the budget impacts of the election commitments of parliamentary parties.
We achieve our purpose through the provision of our core functions:
Figure 1: PBO core functions
Policy costings and budget analysis
The PBO provides all parliamentarians with access to advice on the financial implications of their policy proposals, based on the policy specifications they provide. Outside of the caretaker period for an election, parliamentarians may submit requests for policy costings on a confidential basis, in which case both the request and our response are kept in confidence.
We also provide parliamentarians with access to information relating to the budget, which we may provide on a confidential basis regardless of when the request is made.
We respond to requests for assistance from parliamentary committees on issues that fall within our mandate.
We publish research that focusses on the fiscal sustainability of the Australian Government budget, particularly over the medium term. We also seek, through our publications, to improve budget transparency and promote a better public understanding of the budget and fiscal policy settings.
Report on election commitments
After every general election we publish a report that presents the budget impacts of each of the election commitments of the major parliamentary parties, including their aggregate impact on the fiscal position. Minor parties may choose to opt in to have their election commitments included in this report. No minor parties or independents chose to be included in the 2019 Post-election report of election commitments.