Congressional Budget Office

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Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is responsible for economic forecasting and fiscal policy analysis, scorekeeeping, cost projections, and an Annual Report on the Federal Budget. The office also underdakes special budget-related studies at the request of Congress. The CBO enables Congress to have an overview of the federal budget and to make overall decisions regarding spending, taxation levels, and any federal deficit or surplus. Congress is thus provided with a mechanism through which it can weigh the priorities for national resource allocation and explicitly address issues of fiscal policy.

The Congressional Budget Office provides Congress with basic budget data and with analyses of alternative fiscal, budgetary, and programmatic policy issues. The agency employs more than 200 full-time employees. Seventy percent of these employees hold advanced degrees in economics or public policy. CBO also retains a panel of economic advisors, including a number of scholars from top universities in the United States. It has specific responsibility for the following:

Economic Forecasting and Fiscal Policy Analysis

The federal budget both affects and is affected by the national economy. Congress considers the federal budget in the context of the current and projected state of the national economy. CBO provides periodic forecasts and analyses of economic trends and alternative fiscal policies.


Under the new budget process, Congress establishes, by concurrent resolution, targets (also known as ceilings) for overall expenditures for budget authority and budget outlays and for broad functional categories. It also establishes targets for the levels of revenues, the deficit, and the public debt. CBO "keeps score" for Congress by monitoring the results of congressional action on individual authorization, appropriation, and revenue bills against the targets that are specified in the concurrent resolutions.

Cost Projections

The Congressional Budget Office is required to develop five-year cost estimates for carrying out any public bill or resolution reported by congressional committees. At the start of each fiscal year, CBO also provides five-year projections on the costs of continuing current federal spending and taxation policies.

An Annual Report on the Budget

The Congressional Budget Office is responsible for furnishing the House and Senate Budget Committees (by April 1 of each year) with a report that includes a discussion of alternative spending and revenue levels and alternative allocations among major programs and functional categories, all in light of major national needs and the effect on the balanced growth and development of the United States.

Special Studies

The Congressional Budget Office undertakes studies that Congress requests on budget-related areas. As the establishing statute requires, such service is provided, in the following order of priority, to the House and Senate Budget Committees; the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees; and all other congressional committees.

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West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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