CBO: so many models, so little time

Paul Van de Water, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 11:44 pm

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

The budget battles aren’t over, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tells Federal News Radio that the people working in the Congressional Budget Office face challenges that people throughout the federal government might not realize.

“There’s a lot of pressure, as you can imagine. People sometimes joke that CBO just has one big computer model and they can tweak the assumptions and have the results come out. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that.”


Van de Water said CBO uses many different models and many of the estimates are time consuming. Adding to the complexity of the job is that “many people are beating on them simultaneously to get stuff done quickly, so there’s a lot of pressure but I think they do a very professional job.”

Van de Water told Federal News Radio he doesn’t see the pressure easing up on the CBO anytime soon.

“I’m afraid not. My view is that we’re going to continue with these budget battles for quite some time. I think the issue is there are just growing differences in views about what the federal government should be spending money on. That things that used to be agreed upon are not widely agreed upon anymore and that’s going to make the situation a continuing struggle for quite some time.”

As for his advice for managers trying to figure out budgets, Van de Water said to count on uncertainty to continue.


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