Cost Estimates

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CBO is required to produce a cost estimate for nearly every bill approved by a full committee of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Estimates include statements concerning intergovernmental and private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Cost estimates are advisory only; they can, but need not, be used to enforce budgetary rules or targets. CBO does not enforce budgetary rules; the Budget Committees do.

Appropriation acts provide authority for federal programs or agencies to incur obligations and make payments. CBO does not provide formal cost estimates for appropriation acts but produces estimates of budget authority and spending under those acts.

Early each year, CBO also prepares a report listing programs funded for that year for which authorizations of appropriations have already expired or will expire during that year.