Testimony on CBO’s Appropriation Request for Fiscal Year 2021
Director Phillip Swagel testifies on CBO’s appropriation request for fiscal year 2021 before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.
CBO is asking for appropriations of $57.3 million for fiscal year 2021. That amount represents an increase of $2.4 million, or 4.3 percent, from the $54.9 million provided to CBO for 2020. Of the total amount, nearly 91 percent would be used for personnel costs.
The $2.4 million increase would pay for current staffing, thus fully implementing the multiyear staffing plan that was the basis for the agency’s funding increases in 2019 and 2020. The Congress increased CBO’s budget in the past two years to bolster the agency’s capacity to make its work transparent and responsive. The plan calls for CBO to increase its staffing during fiscal year 2020 to pursue that effort. The $2.4 million increase would allow CBO to remain at the higher staffing level in 2021, and it would fund several initiatives aimed at improving responsiveness in policy areas of especially high Congressional interest.
Paying for Staffing. CBO requests an increase of $2.0 million to fund staffing through 2021. That amount would fund salaries and benefits for seven new staff members hired in 2020. It would also provide for performance-based salary increases for current staff in 2021 and an across-theboard increase of 3.0 percent for employees earning less than $100,000. And it would cover an increase in the cost of federal benefits.
Director’s Initiatives. To improve its responsiveness, CBO plans to make greater use of expert consultants in high-priority research areas, such as health policy. CBO also plans to set up an internal information technology (IT) system to track and manage documents, which will help streamline some aspects of the process by which the agency provides information to the Congress. And CBO requests that $45,000 be appropriated as no-year funding (that is, funding that would remain available until it was exhausted), which would facilitate employees’ attendance at important academic conferences that are held near the beginning of the fiscal year. The cost of those three initiatives would be partly offset by savings in IT and other areas.