Federal Budget Reform | Project Overview

Convergence Building a Better Budget Process Project Overview

Each passing year brings new evidence of the need to repair the process for managing the $4 trillion U.S. budget. Budget resolutions and spending bills narrowly pass, often very late, with lukewarm promises of hammering out priorities in the following budgeting cycle. It has been more than 20 years since all appropriations bills were passed prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. With so many missed deadlines and little attention paid to longer-term budget priorities and oversight, it is obvious the process needs to change.

Beginning in November 2016, Convergence Building a Better Process (B3P) project engaged an unexpected coalition of budget experts, advocates, and executives who are deeply affected by the budget decisions Congress makes each year. Together this group, which reflects a wide set of ideologies and interests, developed practical, politically realistic proposals to improve the process Congress uses to manage its budget. The B3P project released their recommendations at the Better Budget Process Summit organized by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington, DC in February 2018.

( Better Budget Process Summit, February 26 2018 | (L-R): Susan Willie, Emily Holubowich, Matthew Owens, Neil Bradley)

Read the full report.

Taking Action
Congress recently announced the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (JSC), which is tasked with developing recommendations to significantly reform the budget and appropriations process by November 2018. The B3P proposals have already attracted interest from Committee members. B3P participants continue to meet under our auspices and engage in a variety of efforts to implement an outreach strategy that puts the proposals forward in the media, at key public events, and at private briefings.

BP3 dialogue participants are educating members of the JSC, the Budget Committees and other interested Members and their staffs about the proposals to generate interest and traction. We also are reaching out to organizations and individuals who did not participate in the dialogue but whose endorsement would reinforce the importance of budget process reform and the B3P proposals.

While process reforms alone cannot compensate for the Congress’s inability to act on issues on a timely and bipartisan basis, we believe the forthcoming proposals will, if adopted, provide “better rules for the game” and improve the odds that the federal budget process would function more effectively. Even at this early stage, the proposals are generating interest because of the diversity of stakeholders who have joined together to call for reform and the importance of funding the government on a regular and predictable timeline.