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By Jens Odegaard on November 30th, 2009

Budgeting is to finance as jump shots are to basketball--foundational and ubiquitous. We have an entire budgeting section at However, most budgeting content focuses only on the personal side. That leaves out the whole federal aspect of budgeting.

Last week, I read this article from discussing the federal budget deficit. It made me curious to learn more about the Congressional Budget Office ( and the Office Of Management And Budget (, both of which were cited as main sources.

Basically the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assists the Congress in budget decisions and the Office Of Management And Budget (OMB) assists the President. Together these two agencies help shape budgeting policy. Here's some more detail.


  • The official CBO mandate "is to provide the Congress with: Objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs coverd by the federal budget and the information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process"  (source).
  • The CBO received $45.3 million in 2009 funding to assess and oversee a total federal budget with $2.1 trillion in revenues (income) and $3.68 trillion in outlays (expenditures)--that leaves a federal deficit (shortfall) in 2009 of $1.59 trillion (source). The federal deficit represents 11.2% of total U.S. GDP--the highest rate since World War II (source).  
  • The CBO analyzes proposed legislation for budgeting and economic purposes. Recent analyses covers such topics as: Costs of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, a cost estimate of the health care bill passed by the House, and the implications of the Department of Defense's budget requests for 2010.


  • "OMB's predominant mission is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget and to supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies" (source). It also evaluates the effectiveness of programs, policies, and procedures and prioritizes funding, among other tasks. 
  • For 2009, the estimated funding required for the OMB was $72 billion (source). The OMB utilizes the money to implement the presidential administration's policies. Click here for more info on the OMB's mission and structure.
  • OMB publications include: The president's budget for 2010, fact sheets on key issues, and historical tables for budget comparison.

While you still might not understand how the total federal debt has grown to $12 trillion (source), at least you'll know where to look for explanations and cost breakdowns. / CC BY-SA 2.0