CBO’s people make the agency one of the best places to work in the federal government. Meet some of them:
Microeconomic Studies Division
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 Health Sciences (Health Policy and Administration)
Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division
Before joining the Congressional Budget Office, I was very familiar with the agency’s work and its influential role in the policymaking process because of my background in health policy. CBO has a long-standing reputation as an authoritative source of nonpartisan and objective information, and its rigorous analysis is often relied upon by policymakers. On graduating from the Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois, I decided to look for a position that would allow me to make a firsthand difference in public-policy debates. Although I initially started my career in the private sector (at Truven Health Analytics and Kaiser Permanente), I was fortunate that CBO gave me the chance to apply my training to real-world scenarios in the public sector. In 2014, I joined the Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division, which works on a range of issues, including those related to Medicare, Medicaid, and the health insurance marketplaces.
Because health care is a high-profile policy issue that is the focus of much of the agency’s analysis, I have had the opportunity at CBO to analyze major legislation that aims to reform the health care system. I have also written a working paper that examined private-sector prices for hospital admissions, shorter blog posts on health insurance, and an academic journal article on the competition posed by health insurers that are vertically integrated with providers. Being able to see the real-world impact that my work has had in shaping national health policy discussions has been both meaningful and rewarding.
I continue to be awed by the vast amount of expertise at the agency. I have learned a tremendous amount from the smart, wonky, and collegial staff. As as a result, I have become a better analyst. I have also found the work at CBO to be important, interesting, and challenging. I should mention that an additional perk of working here is that we have a softball team!
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.
Macroeconomic Analysis Division
When I was looking for jobs during my senior year at Tufts University, I hoped to find one that allowed me to apply—in a meaningful way—what I had learned while studying economics. In addition, I wanted to find a job that challenged me on a daily basis and that gave me a sense of what pursuing a career in the field of economics would offer. At CBO, I have found an inclusive and collaborative work environment that has encouraged me not only to apply what I learned as an undergraduate, but also to expand upon that knowledge base.
In the time I’ve spent at CBO, I’ve worked on several different projects in the Macroeconomic Analysis Division. Some of them, such as The Budget and Economic Outlook, are team efforts that are accomplished with the input of many analysts throughout the agency. Those projects have proved to be rewarding because they’ve given me the opportunity to see how many sectors of the economy interact. I’ve also had more individual responsibility for other projects, such as a paper that analyzed CBO’s historical forecast errors and programming models that examined the effect of health on people’s saving decisions throughout their lives. All of those projects have given me a chance to try out my own ideas and explore diverse topics.
I started working at CBO in July of 2016, shortly after my graduation. Since that time, I have made many important professional connections—and close friends. I have enjoyed participating in numerous activities that have become traditions at CBO. For instance, my division gets together once a month for pizza lunches when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its jobs report, and I gather weekly with other Spanish speakers at CBO to practice during lunch. I hosted other Research Assistants at my house for dinner and have met many people in other divisions through the extensive community of staffers who bike to work. I also have been able to participate in many activities outside of work, including acting in a play, competing in a triathlon, and coaching a high-school crew team.
I’ve had the opportunity to attend seminars and talks both within CBO and hosted by outside organizations and have learned a lot through them—not only about specific issues in macroeconomics, but also about health care, microeconomics, modeling, and programming. CBO has supported me as I contemplate pursuing a Ph.D. in economics: The agency has sponsored training that has allowed me to take more math classes; and I have gained important insights from my colleagues about their own experiences in the profession.
I think that working at CBO will be a valuable stepping stone in my career, and I will be lucky to find another place that is as welcoming, inclusive, collaborative, and intellectually stimulating as CBO.
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.