What is the Congressional Budget Office?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Created in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency of the United States, mandated by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. It was established as a nonpartisan group of federal officials tasked with providing economic data to the legislative branch. The information gathered and utilized by the Congressional Budget Office is considered to be accurate by both parties, assisting the House of Representatives and the Senate to make sound choices when establishing the federal budget. Both houses of Congress are responsible for appointing the director of the agency, which in turn hires the 235 employees that work for the organization.

The Congressional Budget Office reports directly to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a panel of members from both houses of the United States Congress, as well as the Department of the Treasury, the main economic body operating within the executive branch. Specifically, the Congressional Budget Office produces three reports about the federal budget: the annual Economic and Budget Outlook, a mid-year update to the same report and An Analysis of the President's Budgetary Proposal. Each of these reports is made available through the Government Printing Office to the Federal Depository Libraries, the agencies that print and publish all federal documents for the different branches of government as well as the public.


The main job of the Congressional Budget Office is to detail factors impacting the federal budget. Ongoing facets of concern include the estimated revenues and expenditures of the legislative and executive branches of the United States government. The national debt and deficit both play pivotal roles in nearly every action undertaken by government, impacting both where money is used and how taxes are collected. These have become one of the primary points of focus of the agency, requiring the constant monitoring of changes to the projections.

Other duties of the Congressional Budget Office include preparation of reports based on specific inquiries by the different Congressional committees. When legislation is entered as a bill, there are often questions regarding the full cost of the proposed programs over a long period of time. The different political parties use financial analysis organizations that support their side of the argument and detract from opposition. While the Republicans and Democrats cite sources that support their sides, the Congressional Budget Office can be counted on to provide accurate and nonpartisan information on the numbers. To provide this data, members of the agency are often called upon to testify in front of the related committees.


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