Testimony on The Congressional Budget Office’s Work Since May 2015 and Plans for the Future
On September 14, 2016, Director Keith Hall testified on CBO’s work since May 2015 and its plans for the future before the Senate Budget Committee.
We at CBO have relied on the budget committees to explain and communicate to others in the Congress what the agency’s role is, to provide constructive feedback on how the agency can best serve the Congress, and to provide guidance on what legislative developments are occurring and what the Congress’s priorities are. We are very grateful for that support and guidance, which are key to our success.
Since I last testified about CBO’s work before you in May 2015, the agency has continued to work diligently to carry out its mission and has emphasized five areas of work that are of particular interest to the Committee:
First, to respond to the needs of the budget committees, CBO has prepared a multitude of cost estimates, both formal and informal, to support the committees’ role in budget enforcement, as well as in the development of a budget resolution.
Second, CBO continues to press to make its analysis transparent. Its publications go well beyond simply presenting results; instead, the agency works hard to explain the basis of its findings so that Members of Congress, their staff, and outside analysts can understand the results and the methodologies used. For example, the agency has supplemented reports about the budgetary effects of health insurance subsidies and hurricane damage with working papers detailing, respectively, its approach to estimating the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the labor market and its approach to estimating expected hurricane damage.
Third, CBO has emphasized “dynamic analysis.” For example, in response to the requirement for certain dynamic analyses specified in concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2016, CBO (in collaboration with the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation) completed several such estimates for H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act. The agency also solicited extensive feedback on its methods as it continues to refine and enhance its modeling approaches.
Fourth, CBO has devoted significant resources to analyzing trade agreements and improving its capability to model their effects. The agency continues to prepare to analyze potential legislation related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Finally, CBO continues to devote resources to attracting and retaining talented people and developing their skills. Among the notable staffing changes, Mark Hadley became the agency’s Deputy Director in June, and two new Assistant Directors—one for macroeconomic analysis and the other for tax analysis—joined the agency this year.
In the coming year, CBO will:
- Continue to be guided by its mission and core values;
- Aim to expand its analytical capacity—with an emphasis on macroeconomic analysis, health care issues, and modeling capabilities; and
- Focus on meeting three broad goals—continuing to provide the Congress with budget and economic information that is objective, insightful, and timely; presenting and explaining the methodology and results of CBO’s analyses clearly; and improving CBO’s internal management.