Accuracy of Projections

CBO regularly releases comparisons of the agency’s budget projections with actual outcomes.

  • Report

    In its March 2020 projections for fiscal year 2021, CBO underestimated revenues by 15 percent and overestimated outlays by 4 percent. CBO’s projection of the federal budget deficit in 2021 was more than the actual amount by 3.9 percent of GDP.

  • Report

    The average error for CBO’s budget-year revenue projections is 1.2 percent, indicating the agency has tended to slightly overestimate revenues. For the agency’s sixth-year revenue projections, the average error is greater—5.6 percent.

  • Report

    CBO analyzes its baseline projections of deficits and debt held by the public that were made each year beginning in 1984. In this report, CBO reviews its projections for the first and fifth years after the fiscal year already under way.

  • Report

    In 2009, the Recovery Act boosted monthly benefits for SNAP. The resulting increase in spending on SNAP benefits from 2009 to 2013 was greater than CBO had estimated. This report discusses that underestimate and the reasons for it.

  • Report

    In the baseline projections CBO has issued each spring, projected outlays have generally been close to actual amounts, although they have been too high, on average—a consequence of the agency’s economic forecasts and other factors.

  • Report

    CBO's revenue projections since 1982 have, on average, been a bit too high—more so for projections spanning six years than for those spanning two—but their overall accuracy has been similar to that of the projections of other agencies.