Accuracy of Projections

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

  • Report

    In its 2019 projections for fiscal year 2020, CBO underestimated revenues by 9 percent and outlays by 3 percent. CBO’s projection of the federal budget deficit in 2020 was more than the actual amount by 0.5 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

    In its 2018 projections for fiscal year 2019, CBO overestimated revenues and underestimated outlays by 0.8 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. CBO’s projection of the federal budget deficit in 2019 was less than the actual amount by 0.1 percent of GDP.

  • 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 its June 2017 projections, CBO overestimated federal outlays and revenues for fiscal year 2018 by 1.7 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. The projected federal budget deficit for 2018 was 3.7 percent more than the actual amount.

  • Report

    CBO’s March 2016 projections of federal outlays for fiscal year 2017 were $65 billion—or 1.6 percent—more than the actual amount reported by OMB. By comparison, the mean absolute error for projections made for 1993 to 2016 is 2.3 percent.

  • 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.