On February 25, 1975, Alice Rivlin was sworn in as CBO’s first Director by Speaker of the House Carl Albert. After a luncheon, she and Robert Reischauer (who would later be CBO’s third Director), along with two assistants, went back to the single office that they shared in the Dirksen Senate Office Building—the original location of CBO. The early days included writing job descriptions, hiring new staff, drawing organizational charts, and figuring out how to create an agency that would fulfill its mission as specified by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under Rivlin's leadership, CBO started to provide the Congress with estimates of proposed legislation’s costs and effects and projections of economic and budgetary outcomes under current law. CBO also published analytic reports, some of which presented alternatives to current policies.
From the start, Rivlin insisted that CBO never tell the Congress what it should do. Her legacy of providing independent and objective estimates to lawmakers without making recommendations has been perpetuated at CBO by the Directors and staff who came after her. CBO remains committed to providing thoughtful, objective, nonpartisan analysis to the Congress.
On May 14, 2019, Alice Rivlin passed away at the age of 88. CBO's Director, Keith Hall, honored her memory in a blog post. In June 2019, the Brookings Institution and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, in collaboration with Rivlin's family, hosted a celebration of Rivlin’s life and distinguished public career.