CBO’s people make the agency one of the best places to work in the federal government. Meet some of them:
When I finished my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I was hoping to contribute to policy discussions at the national level in a serious way. And I was hoping to do so quickly. I can think of no better place for that than CBO. I know my work has informed debates among policymakers, and it has been cited by major news outlets. It is gratifying to know that people listen to what CBO says.
Coming out of graduate school, I was faced with the decision of whether to go “academic” or not. I must say, I’ve never regretted opting out of those tenure-track assistant professor days (and nights). Besides, CBO offers a variety of outlets for its analysts’ work. Some of the projects here are longer term, giving you time to really delve into the details of an issue (an example is our 2014 paper The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income). Other projects are shorter term and focus on answering a specific question more quickly (for instance, our 2010 issue brief Social Security Disability Insurance: Participation Trends and Their Implications). CBO is very supportive of analysts who want to publish in academic journals (as I have) and encourages participation in conferences and in the economics community overall. Since coming here, I have also taken the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor in the Georgetown economics department. The ability to switch things up is one of the things that keeps the job fresh and interesting.
CBO has a stellar reputation for producing excellent and objective analyses of tough issues in a timely and accessible way. That’s no mean feat. We are a small agency, but the bang for the buck here is incredible. The people are smart, hard-working, dedicated, and engaged. There is at least one expert on every domestic program or policy issue. Our editorial staff cannot be beat and our support staff is fantastic.
The work is rewarding and interesting in its own right, but it is the people at CBO who keep things lively and fun on a day-to-day basis. CBO’ers are sailors, glass blowers, linguists, sports enthusiasts, runners, triathletes, actors—the list goes on and on. We also have people who devote time and energy to a wide variety of charities, including Race for the Cure, homeless shelters, and mentoring programs for local at-risk youth. It really is amazing—no one seems to do anything halfway around here!
Ph.D., Public Administration
Tax Analysis Division
When I came to Washington in 2006, my work as an energy policy analyst gave me cause to regularly read CBO reports. What struck me most about the reports was their ability to convey complex topics in an accessible manner. It was only a matter of time until I decided I wanted to learn more. I contacted the Assistant Director of the Tax Analysis Division (TAD) at the time. He went out of his way to take me to lunch in order to discuss the environment at CBO and the skills of the talented staff. I left that lunch knowing I wanted to be part of the team.
It was not until 2014 that I made the move to CBO. I was working in the Office of Revenue Analysis (ORA) for the District of Columbia and making progress on my doctoral degree from American University. A vacancy existed in TAD, and I jumped at the opportunity to extend beyond my foundation in state and local policy and analyze federal policy. As tough as it was to leave ORA, which was excellent, I could not be happier with my decision.
During the interview, the people I work with now echoed what the former Assistant Director told me back in 2006. CBO is a collegial, "flat" organization, with managers and a Director who are surprisingly accessible. There has been a genuine concern for my well-being and development. The quality and inherent curiosity of the staff create endless opportunities for intellectually stimulating conversations. In some ways, CBO feels like an academic department. Even though there is no formal instruction of students, staff members always seem to be willing and able to teach one another. I would argue that the culture makes the whole more than the sum of its parts.
After my first year here, and on the other side of my Ph.D., I have come to realize that CBO is the next phase in my education. In working on analyses of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, tax proposals in the President's budget, and pension activity, I have learned a great deal from my bosses and colleagues about how to place analysis in context. Furthermore, working with a microsimulation model of the individual income tax has given me even more appreciation for the interdependent nature of fiscal policy. Knowing that my work has supported analyses that informed the debate, being cited by both Members of Congress and the media, only “sweetens the deal” of working here. CBO has exceeded my expectations, and I believe the experiences I have here will pay dividends throughout my career.
Financial Analysis Division
When I joined CBO, I had already spent nearly 20 years working in the financial sector. My interest in moving to government service grew out of a search for a way I could contribute to the wider discussion of important policy issues facing that industry, particularly because of the recent housing and financial crises and the intensifying scrutiny of the effect that banks and other financial institutions were having on the federal budget and the broader economy.
After researching a variety of public- and private-sector organizations involved in the policy arena, I identified CBO as an ideal place to pursue the work I was interested in. Most important to me was CBO’s reputation as a nonpartisan voice, and the evidence of its consistent approach to examining all sides of an issue and thoroughly reviewing the pros and cons of relevant policy approaches. I also appreciated the clarity of its descriptions of the often-complex financial, economic, and procedural details that underlie its analyses.
When I arrived at CBO, I realized quickly that the agency’s reputation is just one benefit of working here. Beyond that are the impressive breadth and depth of knowledge of CBO’s staff members, their ease at welcoming new colleagues, and their willingness to share institutional knowledge. I had experienced nothing like it during my career. In addition, the agency encourages the engagement of its staff with a constellation of outside organizations—in government, business, industry, and academia—to promote fuller understanding of the issues we study.
The nature of the work itself has exceeded my expectations. In particular, I appreciate having had the opportunity to participate in projects that span a spectrum of federal financial programs—in my case, involving everything from housing to agriculture to energy. I cannot imagine another organization providing as diverse a set of opportunities for analysts to enhance their skills and knowledge.
M.P.A., Public Management
Budget Analysis Division
Finding a job you like is always tough.
I’ve always been interested in problem solving and trying to make a difference in the world. That led me to pursuing degrees in both economics and public policy, which eventually led me to CBO—a place where problem solving helps to make a difference in the world. I found my way to CBO in 2001, when my senior adviser at Morehouse put a CBO internship information sheet in my hand (and told me to apply). I took a chance and landed an internship in the Health and Human Resources Division working on unemployment insurance issues. Because of the work I’d done in the summer, I was invited to intern for the rest of the year in the Budget Analysis Division and had the opportunity to work on issues ranging from fugitive felons to Alaskan bush pilots.
After entering my graduate program, I began to look for jobs that would both fit and enhance my newly acquired skill set. Given what I knew about the people and the quality of the work, the only place that came to mind was CBO. As an intern, I’d gained insight on CBO's environment and the type of work produced at CBO, but what led me back was the fact that I would immediately be responsible for specific policy areas.This is often a concern for new graduates; no one wants to take a job where your work doesn’t matter. Lucky for me, at CBO, all of the work matters.
I accepted a job in the Defense, International Affairs, and Veterans Affairs Unit of the Budget Analysis Division and work on issues relating to veterans’ disability compensation, pensions, and related issues. Having always wanted to work in a sector dealing with people, something difficult to do when you work in budgeting, this particular job suits me well: I deal directly with issues that affect millions of disabled veterans of the U.S. military.
Working at CBO provides me with the opportunity to work in a fast-paced environment, yet gives me plenty of time to enjoy all that the Nation’s Capital has to offer. There are days when the work is challenging and you need to get 12 things done in an hour, but the supportive management team and staff always find a way to help you accomplish everything—and do it well.
Budget Analysis Division
I decided to work at CBO because I wanted to work in public service, and I was attracted to the agency’s reputation for professional nonpartisan analysis and to the unique opportunity for recent graduates to contribute to public policy in meaningful ways. I am proud to be part of an organization that produces high-quality work that informs the legislative process.
Before joining the CBO, I earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in international studies. I also had experience interning for a health and benefits consulting firm, a policy options website, and a think tank.
I work in the Budget Analysis Division in health policy, including Medicare, low-income health programs, and issues involving prescription drugs. As an assistant analyst, I conduct baseline estimates and analyses of proposed legislation pertaining to the federal budget accounts that I manage. I also assist in long-term research projects by analyzing data and academic literature. Recently, for instance, I reviewed the results of pharmaceutical treatments for obesity and demonstration projects under the auspices of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Innovation Center.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to attend seminars to gain a better understanding of the legislative process, the federal budget, and health policy. In addition, CBO provides training for technical skills, such as writing and SAS programming.
CBO offers great benefits: a variety of health insurance plans, public transportation stipends, generous paid-time-off schedules, tuition for continuing education courses, flexible work hours, and retirement contributions.
Most important, though, CBO fosters a collegial community among its employees. Colleagues conduct research as a team and are always eager to answer one another’s questions. I engage in the CBO community by volunteering in CBO’s tutoring program at a local elementary school, serving as a key worker in the Combined Federal Campaign, hosting information sessions for students, and even singing in the CBO choir!
Knowing that my work informs the legislative process motivates me to conduct thorough research and analysis. I am fortunate that my first postgraduate job enables me to make tangible contributions to the Congress, to continue learning about policy and economic research, and to be part of a community of intelligent and welcoming analysts.
Master’s, Public Policy
Budget Analysis Division
I began my work at CBO as a summer intern in the Budget Analysis Division, working on income support programs. Since I attended graduate school locally, I was able to continue interning at CBO part time during the two semesters following my summer internship. I wanted to work at CBO because of its reputation for doing serious, nonpartisan, policy analysis. Some of my favorite courses in graduate school were in economics and statistics, and I wanted an internship that would allow me to use the skills I learned in those courses.
CBO was an ideal place to intern. I was given primary responsibility for developing several cost estimates, and had many opportunities to contribute to the important work being done in the Budget Analysis Division. In addition, my colleagues at CBO were eager to expose me to interesting work they were doing and to teach me new skills that are necessary to do that work.
When I was offered a full-time job at CBO following my graduation, it was an easy decision to stay. In the Budget Analysis Division, each analyst has primary responsibility for producing projections and costs estimates for a specific program area. Therefore, even new analysts are able to do important work that helps the Congress.
The best part of my job at CBO is that the work is never dull. I constantly learn new things and encounter new policy questions. Although this makes the job challenging, CBO provides the support necessary to do it well. The other analysts I work with are incredibly smart and helpful, and our managers are always working to help us do our jobs effectively.