Earlier today, I congratulated the Australian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) on its 10th anniversary. In my talk, I highlighted the ways in which both the Australian PBO and CBO strive to live up to the best practices for independent fiscal institutions (IFIs), as outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). I also drew some lessons from the evolution of CBO’s mandate over the past 47 years.
IFIs include legislative budget offices, like the Australian PBO and CBO, whose primary role is to provide objective, nonpartisan information on fiscal matters to lawmakers as they seek to allocate resources and craft policy. IFIs have different types of responsibilities in different countries; they may include estimating the cost of legislation, compiling budget and economic forecasts, and writing research reports that analyze the fiscal implications of a wide assortment of programs and policy options. But their work is only valuable if they have the trust of all stakeholders and the public.
In different ways, both the Australian PBO and CBO have worked to fulfill the mandates established by their legislatures and to gain that trust. In part as a result of their success, their mandates have expanded. By focusing on maintaining talented and dedicated staff members capable of high-quality objective analysis, building institutional capacity, and redoubling their commitment to making their analyses clear and accessible, they are preparing to meet new challenges and excel in those endeavors.
Mark Hadley is CBO’s Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. He also chairs the OECD’s Working Party of Parliamentary Budget Officials and Independent Fiscal Institutions.