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The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington September 25, 2012. Capitol lawmakers ended their session last Saturday, the earliest pre-election exit since 1960, and they will not return until after the election on November 6. Their departure comes on the heels of another seven-week recess in August and early September. 
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR38EVP
Up Front

Fixing the broken budget process: Experts discuss goals and strategy

On Tuesday, October 18, Economic Studies at Brookings and the National Academy of Public Administration will host an event on turning federal budget process reform into political reality. You can register to attend the event here. You can also register to watch the event online and receive a reminder.

Developing a budget in an orderly and timely manner to advance national priorities is usually considered to be a basic function of government. But in the four decades since the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 which put into place the main components of today’s federal budget process, it has become clear that the process is in need of a thorough overhaul. Missed deadlines, gridlock, and frequent budget crises are now a common feature of federal budgeting. This poorly functioning process frustrates organizations, lower levels of government, businesses, and individuals whose planning depends on predictable federal funds; it also contributes to the alarming decline in public confidence in the competence of the federal government.

Overhauling the federal budget process requires a good policy architecture, but it also needs a sound strategy in order to gain the passage of reforms through Congress. Neither is easy. However, in the last few years, groups of former budget officials and policy analysts have been working on ideas to redesign key parts of the process, ranging from altering the nature of the budget resolution and the status of “mandatory” and “discretionary” spending to revamping the committee structure that manages the budget process. Just as important, political scientists have also been focusing on the challenge of reform, bringing fresh insights from such fields as behavioral economics and the research on steering reforms through the legislative process.

So what policy proposals seem to be plausible candidates as central features of a reformed budget process, and what strategies might be successful? Together with the National Academy of Public Administration, we’ve invited research analysts and former budget officials to at an event at Brookings on October 18th to explore those questions. After a discussion of the major reform ideas under discussion in the policy community, we’ll hear from a panel of veteran budget process experts and political scientists who will discuss the current prospects for reform and strategies to increase the potential for achieving reform ideas.

Visit the event page to join us in person or to view the webcast.

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