2019-20 year in review

The PBO delivered more than 250 costings and published 11 reports in 2019–20 to support transparency and understanding about the budget and fiscal policy. 

Welcome to our inaugural annual update on the PBO’s work. 

The 2019–20 year began just days after we published our 2019 Post-election report of election commitments.  In December, Jenny Wilkinson, the former Parliamentary Budget Officer, departed to take up a role at the Treasury.  A recruitment process is currently underway to fill that position, led by the Presiding Officers.  A review of the PBO’s operations by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit is also currently in progress.   

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have been working hard from home and the office to continue to serve the Parliament with costing responses, and analysis that aims to be timely, transparent and relevant to the continually evolving fiscal position.

Here are four highlights from the PBO’s 2019–20 published reports:

The PBO also released the 2019–20 Medium-term fiscal projections2019–20 National fiscal outlook and snapshot, Unlegislated measures report and 2019–20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) Snapshot.  To further enhance transparency around our costing approaches, we released an information paper Behavioural assumptions and PBO costings explaining how we determine the behavioural assumptions we apply when costing policy proposals.


Costing work continues

The PBO has continued to undertake costing requests for parliamentarians during the coronavirus pandemic.  As is typical after a hectic election year, there were a reduced number of costings in 2019–20.  During the year we provided 279 responses to requests from parliamentarians.  Of these, 251 related to costings of policy proposals, with the remaining 28 being responses to requests for budget analysis.  We also provided information and costings in relation to JobSeeker payments to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee.


The impact of COVID-19 will continue to be a focus in 2020–21

In 2020–21, in addition to our regular publications, we plan to:

  • continue our analysis of the effect of COVID-19 and the associated policy response on the Commonwealth's fiscal position
  • report on net financial worth and fiscal sustainability
  • compare the nature and size of discretionary budget spending compared to ongoing spending
  • expand entries within the Online budget glossary and data portal
  • publish an online public debt interest calculator tool
  • release a backpocket guide to the Australian Government payments system
  • prepare for the next general election, through updating and developing our models and data, and by looking at ways we can enhance the information we provide to parliamentarians about the costings we have done for them.

The PBO retains flexibility to change or add additional research topics to its work program over the course of the year, including in response to emerging issues.

Owing to the delay in the 2020–21 Budget to October 2020, publication dates for regular PBO reports such as the medium-term projections and national fiscal outlook reports may differ from previous years.


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If you have feedback on PBO publications or suggestions for future ones, please get in touch at feedback@pbo.gov.au.

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Date published: 31 July 2020