Transparency is a top priority for CBO. The agency is committed to providing equal and open access to the information and analysis it produces and to ensuring that its work is widely available to the Congress and the public. Those efforts help CBO maintain its long-standing commitment to present clear, objective, insightful, and timely information.

CBO’s transparency efforts have three principal goals:

  • To promote a thorough understanding of the agency's analyses through accessible, clear, and detailed communication;
  • To help people gauge how its estimates might change if policies or circumstances differed; and
  • To enhance the credibility of the agency’s analyses and processes by showing the underlying data, professional research, and feedback from experts.

To achieve those goals, CBO undertakes the following activities:

Testifying and Publishing Answers to Questions

Representatives of CBO testify at Congressional hearings, and the agency publishes answers to Members' subsequent questions on its website.

Explaining Analytical Methods

CBO publishes documents explaining its analyses, including its general approach and particular applications of its methods. In addition, most cost estimates include a section describing the basis of the estimate. To enable researchers to replicate its results, the agency posts segments of the computer code for some analyses.

General Information

Technical Information

Technical Information Including Computer Code

Releasing Data

CBO supplies many files containing the data underlying the analysis for its major reports and other studies. The agency maintains a web page with links to many years' worth of data, demonstrating the underpinnings of key projections.

Collections of Releases

Recent Publications with Data Files

Analyzing the Accuracy of CBO's Estimates

CBO regularly releases comparisons of its projections with actual outcomes.

Comparing Current Estimates With Previous Ones

In several of its recurring publications, CBO explains the differences between its current projections and those from the previous year. In addition, cost estimates explain the extent to which provisions and estimates resemble or differ from earlier ones.

Comparing CBO’s Estimates With Those of Other Organizations

CBO regularly compares its work with the budget projections of the Administration, with the economic projections of private-sector 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 Alternative Policies

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 consequences of alternative policies more transparent), CBO estimates the effects that some alternative assumptions about future policies would have on budgetary outcomes.

Characterizing the Uncertainty of Estimates

CBO's budget and economic estimates are in the middle of a range of likely 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

CBO's chart books, visual reports, slide decks, and infographics about the budget and the economy help make the agency's projections easier to understand.

Conducting Outreach

CBO's staff communicates with people outside the agency every day to explain CBO's findings and methods and to receive feedback that helps maintain and improve the quality of the agency's work. CBO's most important outreach is its direct communication with the Congress. The Director meets regularly with Members of Congress to explain the agency's work, respond to questions, and obtain feedback. CBO also 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