Transparency

Transparency is a top priority for CBO, and the agency continues to bolster its efforts to be transparent. CBO is committed to maintaining equitable access to the information and analysis that it provides, ensuring that its work is widely available to the Congress and the public. Those efforts help CBO continue its long-standing dedication to providing clear, objective, insightful, and timely information.

CBO’s transparency efforts have three principal goals:

  • To promote a thorough understanding of CBO’s analyses through accessible, clear, and detailed communication;
  • To help people gauge how 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

CBO testifies at Congressional hearings and publishes answers to Members’ subsequent questions on its website.

Explaining Analytical Methods

CBO publishes documents explaining its analyses, including its general approach and particular instances. 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

Examples in Cost Estimates

Releasing Data

CBO provides many data files underlying the analysis for its major reports and other studies. The agency maintains a web page with links to many years 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 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 and last year’s projections. 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 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 consequences of alternative policies 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

CBO’s chart books, slide decks, and infographics about the budget and the economy help make its 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 get 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 and podcasts highlighting key issues.

Panels of Advisers

Podcasts

Presentations about CBO’s Processes

Presentations about CBO’s Work in Progress

Presentations about CBO’s Findings

Other Outreach