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Congressional Budget Office. La Oficina de Presupuesto Del Congreso Nacional 27 Octubre, 2009 Melissa Merson Associate Director for Communications Introduction to CBO. History and Mission Organization and Staffing Responsibilities. CBO’s History and Mission.

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Congressional Budget Office

La Oficina de Presupuesto Del Congreso Nacional27 Octubre, 2009Melissa MersonAssociate Director for

introduction to cbo
Introduction to CBO
  • History and Mission
  • Organization and Staffing
  • Responsibilities
cbo s history and mission
CBO’s History and Mission
  • Created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
  • Statutory mission: To assist the Congress in preparing and analyzing budget
  • Most work supports activities of the budget and appropriations committees
  • Nonpartisan; does not make policy recommendations
cbo s responsibilities
CBO’s Responsibilities
  • Helps the Congress formulate its budget plan
  • Provides the Congress with cost estimates to help it stay within its budget plan
  • Assesses the impact of federal mandates
  • Provides studies to help the Congress consider budgetary and economic issues
what cbo does not do
What CBO Does NOT Do
  • Make policy recommendations (strictly nonpartisan; no judgments about a legislative proposal’s “merits”)
  • Write legislation (CBO evaluates different proposals, options)
  • Implement programs, regulations, enforce budget rules (that’s the Executive Branch)
  • Audit spending or receipts (that’s GAO)
cbo s organization and staffing
CBO’s Organization and Staffing
  • About 250 full-time staff
  • Director (4-year term) appointed jointly by the House Speaker and Senate President pro tem
  • Director appoints all CBO staff, solely on the basis of professional competence, not political affiliation
  • 70+% of CBO professional staff hold advanced degrees in economics, public policy, public administration, or a related field
divisional responsibilities
Divisional Responsibilities
  • CBO organized according to responsibilities for budget and program analysis:
    • Budget Analysis
    • Macroeconomic Analysis
    • Tax Analysis
    • Program areas:
      • Health and Human Resources (includes long-term modeling group)
      • Microeconomic and Financial Studies
      • National Security
budget analysis division
Budget Analysis Division
  • Annual baseline (Budget and Economic

Outlook report each January)

  • Analysis of President’s Budget

(usually published in March or early April)

  • Estimates for Budget Options volume
  • Cost estimates (except taxes)
  • Estimates of state and local mandates
  • Scorekeeping (appropriations, mandatory

spending and receipts)

helping the congress develop its budget plan
Helping the Congress Develop Its Budget Plan
  • Prepares a 10-year baseline each winter to serve as a starting point
  • Compares legislative options, including the President’s, to the baseline
  • Assists the Congress in developing a “budget resolution” = “budget plan”
helping the congress stay within its budget plan
Helping the Congress Stay Within Its Budget Plan
  • CBO prepares cost estimates for each bill approved by a committee (usually 500-800 a year; all are on
  • Scorekeeping: CBO keeps track of appropriated and mandatory spending
identifying and estimating the costs of federal mandates
Identifying and Estimating the Costs of Federal Mandates
  • The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) requires CBO to prepare analyses of “federal mandates”
  • The Budget Analysis Division assesses impacts on state, local, tribal governments
  • CBO program divisions assess private-sector mandates
  • Advisory Role: No enforcement power; “influence”

depends on the quality and objectivity of the work

  • Independent: Separate appropriation; works for the

majority and the minority parties; bipartisan appointment

of the Director

  • Nonpolitical: Nonpartisan by law; objective analysis, not


  • Executive Branch Access: Agencies must provide

available information and data

  • Availability and Timeliness: Estimates only relevant if

done quickly; available to everyone; with the basis

explained (not a “black box”)

  • Nonbureaucratic: Staff are responsive and accessible
contact us melissa merson communications @cbo gov
Contact Us:

Melissa Merson