How the PBO informs parliament and enriches Australia’s democracy
By responding to requests made by Senators and Members for costings of policy proposals or for analysis of matters relating to the budget.
By publishing and presenting information to enhance the public understanding of budget and fiscal policy settings.
By publishing a report after every general election that provides transparency around the fiscal impact of the election commitments of major parties, and minor parties and independents that choose to be included.
How can we help you?
Any Senator or Member can request a costing from the PBO on a policy proposal or budget analysis. Requests made outside of the caretaker period are confidential, and it is up to the parliamentarian to release information.
For further information and an introduction to our services see the Guide to services of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).
Policy costings and budget analysis
We provide analysis services to all parliamentarians to help them assess the financial impact of a proposed policy change on the Commonwealth Government budget. We also provide financial information about existing policies or programs and can also analyse the effects that policy changes could have on different groups of people.
This helps to level the playing field because it provides parliamentarians with access to costing and other analytical services that would otherwise be exclusively available to the Government. The PBO does not provide advice on the merits or feasibility of the proposals submitted to us.
Costing and analysis responses can be made confidential, by request. That means we will not release any information about the request unless the requesting parliamentarian authorises publication. These arrangements change during a caretaker period before a general election. Any costing requested during the caretaker period must be made public.
Enhancing public understanding
We publish self-initiated work exploring budget information and fiscal analysis. Our publications include non-technical pieces focusing on a particular area of the budget, short insights into fiscal policy issues and fiscal projections over the next decade. We also publish an analysis of the budget impact of the election commitments of parliamentary parties, which is released after the election.
We publish data and analysis in several streams, such as Budget Explainers, short Budget Bites, user-driven models, historical data and seminars. Our goal is to help inform parliamentarians and the public, particularly about broader issues that affect the sustainability of the budget. Our publications typically range across specific policy areas, medium-term pressures affecting the budget, and chart packs presenting key budget information.
Following each general election, we produce a report showing the financial implications of election commitments made by each of the major parties, and those minor parties and independents that choose to be included. The report shows the fiscal cost as at the election of each individual commitment and the aggregate impact of the commitments taken together.
The purpose of the report is to provide transparency around the fiscal impact of election commitments and to help ensure that fiscal impacts are considered as party election platforms are developed.
When the PBO receives a request for policy costings during the caretaker period for a general election, our legislation requires us to publish these requests, to complete the response as soon as is practical and to publish our response.
Our short Guide to PBO services outlines these key functions.
In this Section
Our small dedicated workforce makes preparing high quality policy costings, research and an election commitment report possible.
Information about PBO’s corporate function and reporting requirements.
We work with Commonwealth agencies under MoU agreements for access to budget and program data.
Information about international fiscal groups and other parliamentary budget offices, and publications related to their functions.
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