There are no typical days at CBO. Some days analysts write quick-turnaround cost estimates for legislation that is headed to the floor for a vote. Other days bring opportunities to work in-depth on studies of budgetary and economic issues. Still other days might involve preparing testimony for Congressional committee hearings, hosting a foreign delegation here to learn about how CBO does its analysis, or participating in a conference or seminar.
One thing is certain: CBO analysts take on significant responsibilities from day one. If you’re up for that challenge, keep reading to learn about the positions available at CBO. Or you can find out more about the work we do and the way we do it.
Economists and Policy Analysts
As an economist or policy analyst at CBO, you would conduct empirical analysis, develop budgetary or economic models, and write CBO reports. That work requires economists and policy analysts to have a clear understanding of the latest research findings in their field, first-rate empirical skills, and excellent judgment about using data and research findings to examine the effects of actual and proposed public policies. CBO encourages its economists and policy analysts to participate in the broader public policy community by publishing their work in professional journals, presenting their papers at conferences, and circulating their preliminary research through CBO’s working paper series. Generally our economists and policy analysts have a Ph.D. in economics or a related field.
CBO’s budget analysts prepare the agency’s projections of federal spending and revenues, analyze the President’s annual budget proposals, and estimate the effects of legislative proposals on the federal budget (and sometimes on state and local governments and on the private sector). The agency’s budget analysts use their understanding of government programs, the federal budget, available data, and empirical evidence to build models and form estimates of the effects of current and proposed public policies. They work closely with Congressional staff in a fast-paced environment where both timeliness and accuracy are vital. Most of CBO’s budget analysts have a master’s degree in public policy, public administration, economics, or a related field.
As a research assistant at CBO, you would work under the direction of other CBO staff members on a wide range of topics and products. Your work could involve analyzing legislative language, conducting quantitative analysis, or even taking on a project of your own. Most of CBO’s research assistants have completed an undergraduate degree in economics or a related field, and many come to the agency with technical experience in statistical and econometric programs. The experience you would gain as a research assistant would put you in an excellent position to attend graduate school, and most of CBO’s research assistants leave the agency after a few years to pursue an advanced degree.
As a CBO intern, you would work closely with CBO’s experts on substantive projects that support the agency’s mission to serve the Congress. Our internships will help you to lay the foundation for thinking critically about public policy and help you to understand the relationship between analysis and policymaking. CBO’s interns, who are generally graduate students in economics, public policy, health policy, or a related field, frequently return to CBO as analysts after graduation.
CBO’s visiting scholars strengthen the vital links between the agency and the broader community of public policy analysts. CBO’s nonpartisan, objective analysis covers the wide array of activities that affect the federal budget and the economy, and so demands that the agency have an extensive reach.
Visiting scholars work at CBO for a limited period—usually one year or less—on policy-related research. As a visiting scholar, you have a unique opportunity to address complex budgetary and economic policy issues. Scholars are typically professors on sabbatical or senior staff on leave from other organizations. If you are interested and meet the qualifications, you should contact Nancy Fahey (202-226-2628) for more information.