Questions and Answers - Office Budget and Electorate Support Budget Arrangements

Budget Calculations and Limits

Certifications, Reporting and Tracking Expenditure

Stationery Suppliers, Stamps and Flags

Pre-Assessment

Further Assistance


Does the scope of what is available expand under the new office budget and electorate support budget?
The scope of what is available has not changed, but the new system provides substantially greater flexibility for Senators and Members to access their entitlements to office requisites and stationery, printing and communications, publications, software, flags, electorate staff travel and relief staff employment according to their particular needs.

How can the new budgets be spent?
The office budget may be used for any or all of the purposes of its component entitlements (office requisites and stationery, printing and communications, publications, software and flags).

The electorate support budget may be used for electorate staff travel and employment of relief staff, consistent with entitlement provisions.

Budget Calculations and Limits

Are any items capped?
Office Budget

Caps which previously applied to expenditure against printing and communications, publications and software entitlements have been removed from 1 July 2015.

Flags

The $900 cap on desktop and hand-waver flags has been removed from 1 July 2015. However, the limit of 50 large flags for presentation to individuals remains. There is no limit, other than the extent of the office budget, on the number of Australian National Flags, Aboriginal Flags and Torres Strait Islander Flags that can be purchased for presentation to eligible recipients (e.g. schools, community organisations, humanitarian aid workers and for the funerals of war veterans). 

Office Requisites and Stationery

Office requisites and stationery expenditure continues to be subject to an annual financial cap, which, from 1 July 2015, is $50,000 within the Office Budget. This is not a separate budget.

Electorate Support Budget

Neither component in the electorate support budget is capped, other than by the overall budget limit.


How are the new budgets calculated?
The office budget for each Senator and Member is equivalent to the combined value of his or her publications, office requisites and stationery, printing and communications and software entitlements, plus a notional value of $10,000 for flags.

The electorate support budget is equivalent to the combined value of the formerly capped electorate staff travel budget and relief staff budget.


Are the new budgets indexed each year?
The new budgets are subject to the same indexation arrangements that previously applied. In addition, the printing and communications component of the office budget for Senators is now indexed in accordance with CPI.

What are my new budget amounts?
Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (M&PS) advised each Senator and Member of his or her 2015-16 office budget and electorate support budget on 30 June 2015.

Certifications, Reporting and Tracking Expenditure

How do office budget certifications work?
Existing certifications remain the same. A new certification form (Form 155) is available for payments and reimbursements for office requisites and stationery ordered from an alternative supplier to the contracted supplier, OfficeMax; and for mobile office signage payments and reimbursements.


What will be reported in Monthly Management Reports?
M&PS will continue to provide each Senator and Member with a Monthly Management Report (MMR) detailing his or her expenditure against the office budget and electorate support budget. The MMR will itemise staff travel and relief staff expenditure against the electorate support budget. It will similarly itemise expenditure against each office budget component (office requisites and stationery, publications, printing and communications, software and flags) and detail individual transactions for the month.

How can I keep track of expenditure against capped items?
Senators and Members continue to be responsible for maintaining their own records of expenditure against their budgets. It is recommended that Senators and Members have a systematic way of keeping track of expenditure, both committed and paid, against entitlements.

MMRs will continue to provide itemised reporting of expenditure against office budget components (office requisites and stationery, publications, printing and communications, software and flags) and electorate support budget components (electorate staff travel and relief staff) to assist Senators and Members to track expenditure against capped items.


Can I still request my budgets online?
Senators and Members can continue to request budget reports online for office requisites and stationery, printing and communications, publications and relief staff expenditure.

Stationery Suppliers, Stamps and Flags

How does the option to choose my own stationery supplier work?
Senators and Members can continue to take advantage of competitive pricing through the Government’s contracted office requisites and stationery supplier, OfficeMax.

From 1 July 2015, Senators and Members may choose their supplier of office requisites and stationery. However, purchases of office requisites and stationery continue to be limited to the approved list of office requisites and stationery items. It is expected that office requisites and stationery purchased through an alternative supplier will be of a comparable type and price to those provided by the contracted supplier, OfficeMax.

Claims for payment of suppliers, or for reimbursement of stationery or office requisite costs, will require submission of an itemised account to M&PS with Form 155: Invoice Certification - Office Requisites and Stationery.


Do stamp allocations at Parliament House continue?
Stamps or stamped envelopes, to the value of $1,800 for each Senator or Member, continue to be available from Parliament House, with funds deducted from the Senator or Member’s office budget. Senators and Members may elect not to access the postage allocation, and instead make the $1,800 available for other uses within the office budget.

Senators and Members are required to advise the relevant chamber department if they choose not to receive the stamp allocation.

As was previously the case, the office budget cannot be used to purchase additional stamps or stamped envelopes beyond the $1,800 allocation at Parliament House.


How can flags be purchased?
Senators and Members may only purchase Australian National Flags, Aboriginal Flags and Torres Strait Islander Flags through OfficeMax, the contracted supplier.

Pre-Assessment

Will M&PS continue to provide pre-assessment of items under the printing and communications entitlement?
M&PS will continue to offer Senators and Members the option to have items that they are proposing to print or produce under the printing and communications entitlement assessed prior to production.

Will M&PS pre-assess signage for mobile electorate offices?
There is no requirement for signage for mobile electorate offices to be assessed prior to production. Senators and Members are responsible for ensuring signage claimed under the office budget is for the purpose of identifying or directing people to a mobile electorate office and complies, where relevant, with Guidelines on the use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.

The costs for mobile electorate office signage will continue to be debited against the Senator or Member’s office budget as office requisites and stationery expenditure.

Further Assistance

Who can answer further questions or provide more information about the office or electorate support budgets?
The Entitlements Management Branch Help Desk or your Entitlements Manager.

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Last Modified: 14 July, 2015