The Congressional Budget Office's Work in 2019: A Report to the Congress
CBO provides cost estimates, reports, analyses, and other information to policymakers throughout the legislative process and often provides technical assistance to lawmakers as legislation is being crafted.
CBO was established under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to provide information that would support the Congressional budget process and help the Congress make effective budget and economic policy. CBO’s work follows processes specified in that law and subsequent laws or developed over time by the agency in concert with the budget committees and the Congressional leadership. The agency’s chief responsibility under the Budget Act is to help the budget committees with the matters under their jurisdiction. CBO also supports other Congressional committees—particularly the Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Finance Committees, as the Budget Act requires—and the leadership of the House and Senate.
CBO strives to present the likely consequences of proposals being considered by the Congress so that lawmakers can make informed policy choices. The agency is committed to providing information that is:
- Objective and insightful—representing the consensus and diversity of views of experts from around the country and applying the best new evidence as well as the lessons of experience;
- Timely—responding as quickly as possible to the needs of the Congress; and
- Clearly presented and explained—so that policymakers and analysts understand the basis for the agency’s findings and have the opportunity to question the analysis and methods used.
In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the agency makes no policy recommendations.
To fulfill its mission, CBO analyzes trends and recent developments related to the economy and the budget. It also develops 10-year and longer-term baseline projections, which incorporate the assumption that current laws generally do not change. The agency uses those baseline projections, which serve as benchmarks for gauging the effects of spending and revenue proposals, in most of its analyses. CBO produces the following materials:
- Formal cost estimates for almost all bills reported by committees of the House and Senate, including estimates of the cost of intergovernmental and private-sector mandates;
- Technical assistance while legislation is being developed and while amendments are being considered by the House and Senate;
- Scorekeeping reports and estimates for appropriation bills;
- Analytic reports, working papers, and testimony covering a broad range of budgetary and economic issues;
- Data files documenting CBO’s baseline projections and providing other information underlying the analytic reports; and
- Information that clearly presents and explains CBO’s analyses.