31 October 2022

The year in summary

For the PBO, 2021–22 centred around preparing for the 2022 election and our ECR, which was published within our legislated deadline on 14 July 2022, just after the end of the financial year. The ECR helps Parliament and the public hold parties to account by creating a record of all the promises made during an election and their impact on the budget.

The ECR must cover the commitments of the major parliamentary parties and may cover the commitments of the minor parties and independents if they choose. For the first time, the report included commitments made by the independent member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines MP, who chose to be included.

The PBO’s confidential policy costing and budget analysis services level the ‘playing field’ by giving non-government parties and independents access to costings, supporting further policy debate. We experienced a significant increase in requests during 2021–22 (particularly in the period ahead of the general election) receiving a total of 3,216 requests for the full year. This represented a far greater level of demand in comparison to last year, and is comparable to the level of demand experienced during the previous election year (2018–19).

Although our focus was primarily on the election, we maintained our program of self-initiated work, releasing 13 publications. These included two ‘explainers’, on bracket creep and the contingency reserve – topics which often appear mysterious or are misunderstood. Our popular Guide to the Budget was also updated following the 2022–23 Budget.

Building on our work on fiscal sustainability, we published our seventh update of medium-term fiscal projections, titled Beyond the Budget, as well as our first interactive Fiscal sustainability dashboard.

Our regular reports also included summary charts (‘snapshots’) on the 2021–22 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) and the 2022–23 Budget. For the first time, however, both were published on the day of release. A new product for 2021–22 was Historical fiscal data, an accessible dataset of budget-related time-series not previously available anywhere in a single location.

All these outputs were supported by a substantial investment in our Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability during 2021 that has given us a modern, collaborative, and integrated cloud-based environment. Behind the scenes, we leveraged this new capability to streamline and automate key business and quality control processes, for example with the development of a new aggregator tool to support the delivery of the ECR.

The results of our major stakeholder survey for the 46th Parliament (2021 stakeholder survey) indicated high levels of satisfaction with our services, with strong agreement that the PBO remains an important policy costing and budget analysis institution. It also pointed to further improvements we are pursuing.

Download the full report above.