Major Recurring Reports

This page covers recurring reports that CBO has published since 2000. Some of the reports listed here have been published since the 1970s; those earlier reports are all available on CBO's website but are not shown here.

Budget and Economic Outlook and Updates

CBO regularly publishes projections of economic and budget outcomes which incorporate the assumption that current law regarding federal spending and revenues generally remains in place. Those baseline projections cover the 10-year period used in the Congressional budget process. Most of the reports on those projections also describe the differences between the current projections and previous ones; compare the economic forecast with those of other forecasters; and show the budgetary impact of some alternative policy assumptions. The budget projections and economic forecast are generally issued each January and updated in August; the budget projections are also generally updated each March.

Analysis of the President's Budget

CBO estimates the budgetary impact of the proposals in the President’s budget using the agency's own economic forecast and estimating assumptions. CBO’s independent "reestimate" of the President’s budget allows the Congress to compare the Administration's spending and revenue proposals with CBO’s baseline spending and revenue projections and with other proposals using a consistent set of economic and technical assumptions. CBO also usually analyzes the economic impact of the President’s budget (and the feedback effect of those economic changes on the budget)—recently in a separate report, but previously in the same report.

Budget Options

Periodically, CBO produces reference volumes examining options for reducing budget deficits. The volumes include a wide range of options, derived from many sources, for reducing spending and increasing revenues. (Occasionally, the volumes focus on specific areas of the budget, as do many of CBO’s other reports.) For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget and a discussion of its pros and cons but makes no recommendations.

A Budget Options search allows users to search for options by major budget category, budget function, topic, and date. The online search is updated regularly to include only the most recent version of budget options from various CBO reports.

Long-Term Budget Outlook

CBO provides the Congress with budget projections beyond the standard 10-year budget window. Those projections, which starting in 2016 focus primarily on the coming 30 years (previously they focused on the next 25 years), show the effects of demographic trends, economic developments, and rising health care costs on federal spending, revenues, and deficits. The assumptions about federal spending and revenue policies used for the long-term budget projections match those underlying the agency’s 10-year baseline for the first decade and are extended in a similar way to later years. The report also shows the long-term budgetary and economic effects of some alternative policies.

Long-Term Projections for Social Security

CBO publishes long-term projections for Social Security in the Long-Term Budget Outlook and then provides additional information on those projections in subsequent, separate reports.

Long-Term Implications of the Future Years Defense Program

In most years, the Department of Defense (DoD) provides a five-year plan, called the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), associated with the budget that it submits to the Congress. Because decisions made in the near term can have consequences for the defense budget well beyond that period, CBO regularly examines DoD’s FYDP and projects its budgetary impact roughly a decade beyond the period covered by the FYDP.

Analysis of the Navy’s Shipbuilding Plan

At the direction of the Congress, the Department of Defense generally issues annual reports that describe its plan for building new ships over the next 30 years. CBO examines these plans in detail and estimates the costs of proposed ship purchases using its own estimating methods and assumptions. CBO also analyzes how those ship purchases would affect the Navy’s inventories of various types of ships over the next three decades.

Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces

At the direction of the Congress, CBO projects the 10-year costs of the Administration’s plans for operating, maintaining, and modernizing nuclear weapons and the military systems capable of delivering those weapons. The reports are biannual, with occasional interim updates as necessary.

Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes

For households with different levels of income and in various demographic groups, CBO reports estimates of average federal tax rates (federal taxes divided by income), shares of total federal taxes paid, and related measures.

Economic Forecasting Record

CBO periodically evaluates the quality of its economic forecasts by comparing them with the economy’s actual performance and with forecasts by the Administration and the Blue Chip consensus—an average of about 50 private-sector forecasts. Such comparisons help to show the extent to which various factors have caused CBO to miss patterns and turning points in the economy.

Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit

The debt limit—commonly referred to as the debt ceiling—is the maximum amount of debt that the Department of the Treasury can issue to the public and to other federal agencies. That amount is set by law and has been increased over the years in order to finance the government’s operations.

Federal Receipts and Expenditures in the National Income and Product Accounts

CBO each year produces projections of the federal receipts and expenditures in the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), which are produced by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Review of Activities Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The federal government sometimes imposes requirements—known as mandates—on state, local, and tribal governments and entities in the private sector in order to achieve national goals. In 1995, lawmakers enacted the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) in part to ensure that the Congress receives information about the potential effects of mandates as it considers proposed legislation. To that end, UMRA requires CBO, at certain points in the legislative process, to assess the cost of mandates that would apply to state, local, and tribal governments and to the private sector. From 1997 through 2015, CBO prepared annual reviews of its activities under UMRA and produced reports summarizing those activities. The last report, which covered activities in calendar year 2014, was published in March 2015. In 2016, CBO transitioned to an online version of the review. The online version includes information about mandates in legislation and in public laws beginning with 2013, and it is updated periodically throughout the year.

Online Version

Expired and Expiring Authorizations of Appropriations

CBO regularly prepares reports listing all programs and activities funded for the current fiscal year for which authorizations of appropriations have expired or will expire during the current fiscal year. CBO publishes three versions of the report each year with the items sorted in different ways to be more useful to different committees.

Troubled Asset Relief Program

The Congress established the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008 to stabilize financial markets. CBO regularly provides its estimate of the costs of the program and a comparison of that estimate to the preceding estimate from the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) required CBO to comment on reports filed by recipients of ARRA funding about the number of jobs funded by ARRA. CBO’s reports provided the agency’s own estimates of the effects of ARRA on total output and jobs. Public Law 112-204, enacted on December 4, 2012, reduced the required frequency of CBO’s reporting from quarterly to annually over the 2013–2015 period and eliminated the reporting requirement altogether after 2015.

Fair-Value Estimates of the Cost of Federal Credit Programs

The federal government supports some private activities by providing credit assistance to individuals and businesses. CBO estimates the lifetime costs that are projected to be incurred by those federal credit programs, showing two kinds of estimates: estimates that were created by following procedures prescribed by the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA), most of which were produced by other agencies; and estimates newly produced by CBO that account for the market value of the government’s obligations, which are called fair-value estimates. A primer about how CBO produces fair-value estimates explains how differences between the FCRA and fair-value approaches affect estimates of the cost of federal credit programs.

Sequestration

CBO is required to publish estimates of the caps on funding for discretionary programs for each fiscal year through 2021 and to report whether, according to those estimates, a sequestration (a cancellation of budgetary resources) would be required. However, the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget ultimately makes the determination of whether a sequestration is required based on its own estimates.

Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure

CBO periodically provides information on spending by federal, state, and local governments for transportation and water infrastructure. In addition to presenting data on outlays for various types of infrastructure, the reports also examine such spending in terms of two broad categories—spending for capital and spending for operation and maintenance.

Reports to the Congress on CBO’s Work

Since 1975, CBO has produced nonpartisan analyses of budgetary and economic issues in support of the Congress. Each year, CBO reports to the Congress on its hundreds of formal cost estimates, numerous analytical reports and working papers, and many other products.