Reports With Policy Options

CBO produces numerous reports with specific options or broad approaches for changing federal tax and spending policies.

CBO periodically publishes a reference volume, often referred to as "Budget Options," that includes dozens of policy options to reduce federal budget deficits.

CBO also prepares analytic reports that examine specific federal programs, aspects of the tax code, and budgetary and economic challenges. A list of recent reports, organized by broad issue area, is given below.

Defense and Veterans

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    The Navy’s shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on submarines. In this report, CBO projects that required maintenance will continue to exceed the shipyards’ capacity and examines options to reduce delays.

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    CBO examines two options for establishing a Space National Guard to support active component Space Force personnel, estimating the additional costs beyond those incurred for existing Air and Army National Guard units that have space-related missions.

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    This report examines some of the challenges U.S. forces might face in a conflict in the Baltic region or the South China Sea and options for mitigating those challenges by procuring and fielding ground-launched long-range missiles.

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    CBO estimates that the Navy’s plan to modernize and operate its sealift ships over the next 30 years would cost roughly $39 billion. In this report, CBO explores four alternatives that would vary in cost from $34 billion to $40 billion.

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    CBO examines the differences between cash and accrual accounting for federal retirement and veterans’ benefits, the information that the two types of estimates provide, and ways to expand the use of accrual measures for such benefits.

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    CBO estimates the added personnel requirements and costs of five kinds of military space organizations. DoD wants to create three, which could increase annual costs by $1 billion to $2 billion and require onetime startup costs of $2 billion to $5 billion.

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    CBO estimates that the Obama Administration’s 2017 plans for nuclear forces would cost $1.2 trillion (in 2017 dollars) over the 2017–2046 period. CBO analyzed nine options that would reduce those costs or delay some of them.

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    CBO examined possible changes to the Department of Defense’s Military Health System, analyzing the effects of those changes on the federal budget, the quality of military health care, and preparedness for wartime missions.

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    The Defense Department could cut federal costs by replacing some military personnel in support positions with civilian employees. If DoD replaced 80,000 military personnel, it could eventually save $3.1 billion to $5.7 billion annually.

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    The Navy can sustain its forward presence under smaller shipbuilding budgets by using longer deployments, more overseas basing, and more rotating crews. But those methods would offset some of the savings and have other disadvantages.

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    From 2000 to 2013, the number of veterans receiving VA disability payments rose by nearly 55 percent, and spending for those benefits almost tripled. How might changes in VA's disability compensation program affect the federal budget?

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    Between 2000 and 2012, the cost of providing health care to service members, retirees, and their families increased by 130 percent (after adjusting for inflation). What approaches might curtail the growth in those costs?

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    CBO compares the Army’s plan for the GCV with four options and finds that, although no option would meet all of the Army’s goals, all are likely to be less costly and pose a smaller risk of delay than CBO expects for the Army’s plan.

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    The costs of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) budget plans through 2021 would be much higher than the funding permitted under the Budget Control Act’s statutory caps. CBO examined four options to cut back on DoD’s forces and activities.

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    For fiscal year 2013, the Department of Defense (DoD) requested about $150 billion to fund the pay and benefits of current and retired members of the military. That amount is more than one-quarter of DoD’s total base budget request.

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    Analysis by CBO indicates that an alternative approach would be less expensive than DoD's plan for upgrading its constellation of GPS satellites.

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    CBO compared the costs of DoD’s plans and the capabilities those plans might provide for reconnaissance and light attack missions with the costs and capabilities of some alternative options.

Disability Benefits

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    CBO examines the differences between cash and accrual accounting for federal retirement and veterans’ benefits, the information that the two types of estimates provide, and ways to expand the use of accrual measures for such benefits.

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    From 2000 to 2013, the number of veterans receiving VA disability payments rose by nearly 55 percent, and spending for those benefits almost tripled. How might changes in VA's disability compensation program affect the federal budget?

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    The report discusses how the SSI program works, who receives payments, the program’s spending and interaction with other government programs, the extent to which SSI affects people’s work and saving, and approaches to changing the program.

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    The Disability Insurance program provided benefits to 8.3 million disabled workers in 2011. By 2022, CBO projects, the program will provide benefits to over 10 million disabled workers and spending on benefits will exceed $190 billion.

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    CBO anticipates that starting in 2016, if current laws remain in place, the program's annual spending will regularly exceed its tax revenues.

Education

Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment

Health Care

Homeland Security

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    This report discusses a range of threats that could cause widespread, long-lasting disruptions for the electric grid. CBO examines two illustrative approaches to enhance the security of the electric grid and highlights some considerations for policymakers to take into account.

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    Scanning and imaging all U.S.-bound shipping containers at overseas ports would cost $12 billion to $32 billion over 10 years, CBO estimates. Boosting the number of containers imaged at U.S. ports instead would cost considerably less.

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    The federal program that provides insurance against the risk of terrorism expired at the end of 2014. CBO has examined various options for the program and their likely effects on the private sector and on the federal government.

Housing

Infrastructure and Transportation

Medicare

Poverty and Income Security

Social Security and Retirement

Taxes