Transparency

Transparency is a top priority for CBO and the agency continues to bolster its efforts to be transparent, building on a strong foundation laid over many years. One goal is to enhance the credibility of the agency’s analyses and processes by showing the connections to data, professional research, and feedback from experts. A second is to promote a thorough understanding of the analyses through accessible, clear, and detailed communication. A third is to help people gauge how estimates might change if policies or circumstances differed.

CBO’s efforts to be transparent help it continue its long-standing dedication to providing information that is objective, insightful, timely, and clearly presented and explained. The agency is committed to maintaining a level playing field regarding access to the information and analysis that it provides—ensuring that its work is made widely available to the Congress and the public. (However, work on proposals that have not been made public remains confidential to facilitate the development of legislation.)

CBO publically releases all of its formal cost estimates and analytic reports. It delivers its work to interested Members of Congress and their staff, including, in particular, the sponsor of legislation or requester of a report, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the committees with jurisdiction over the subject at hand, and the budget committees. At about the same time, the agency posts the work on its website. In addition, an email service and Twitter announcements notify subscribers when the agency publishes work.

Testifying and Publishing Answers to Questions

CBO testifies at Congressional hearings and responds to requests from the Congress for public answers to specific questions. In addition to presenting oral remarks, answering questions at the hearings, and presenting written statements, the agency publishes answers to Members’ subsequent questions.

Explaining Analytical Methods

CBO publishes various documents explaining its analysis. Also, in nearly every cost estimate, CBO includes a section describing the basis of the estimate. To enable researchers to replicate results, the agency posts the computer code for some analyses.

General Information

Technical Information

Technical Information Including Computer Code

Examples in Cost Estimates

Releasing Data

Some reports are supplemented with a comprehensive set of data files, and most reports are accompanied by files providing the data underlying figures.

Collections of Releases

Recent Publications with Data Files

Analyzing the Accuracy of CBO's Estimates

CBO regularly releases comparisons of the agency’s projections with actual outcomes.

Comparing Current Estimates With Previous Ones

In several of its recurring publications, CBO explains the differences between this year’s projections and last year’s. In addition, cost estimates explain the extent to which provisions and estimates are similar to or different from earlier ones.

Comparing CBO’s Estimates With Those of Other Organizations

CBO regularly makes comparisons with the budget projections of the Administration, with the economic projections of private forecasters and other government agencies, and sometimes with the policy analyses of various organizations. (Comparisons are often discussed with Congressional staff when time does not allow for preparing a formal presentation.)

Estimating the Effects of Policy Alternatives

To assist policymakers and analysts who may hold differing views about the most useful benchmark for considering possible changes to laws (and to make the influence of policy alternatives more transparent), CBO estimates the effects that some alternative assumptions about future policies would have on budgetary outcomes.

Characterizing Uncertainty Surrounding Estimates

CBO’s budget and economic estimates reflect the middle of a range of outcomes under a given set of policies. Discussion of uncertainty helps policymakers understand the factors that might cause estimates (or outcomes) to differ in the future.

Visualizing Data

To make CBO’s projections easier to understand, CBO publishes slide decks and infographics about the budget and the economy.

Conducting Outreach

The most important form of outreach is the direct communication between CBO and the Congress in person, by phone, and by email. In addition, numerous experts participate in the agency’s Panels of Economic and Health Advisers. The agency obtains many external reviews of its work. And the agency publishes blog posts highlighting key issues.

Panels of Advisers

Presentations about CBO’s Processes

Presentations about CBO’s Work in Progress

Presentations about CBO’s Findings

Other Outreach