Building a Better Budget Process | Project Overview

The project began with more than 100 interviews to discuss how stakeholders were affected by the federal budget process. Previously, efforts at reform had not included the people who work on behalf of groups affected by the budget process such as children, the elderly, and veterans, or recipients of federal funds such as universities and state and local governments. Each interview yielded valuable information about how the process could be improved to better support the constituencies these and other groups represent. From those interviews, 24 stakeholders were invited to participate in a dialogue.

After 16 months and 14 meetings of dialogue focused on fostering relationships and generating creative solutions, participants of the B3P project identified nine principles for a better budget process and five key reforms to improve the transparency, predictability, and comprehensiveness of the budget process.

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

Read the full report.

Release of the Convergence Building a Better Budget Process project (B3P) proposals took place at the first ever Better Budget Process Summit sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in February 2018. The report was well received by Members on both sides of the aisle, including those appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (JSC), which was formed as part of the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act to reform the way the federal government manages its finances.

The Committee invited B3P to testify about their proposals at a hearing in May 2018. B3P members Matt Owens from the Association of American Universities and Emily Holubowich from the Coalition for Health Funding spoke to the Committee. They shared the B3P proposals and highlighted how the Convergence process helped them and their fellow stakeholders reach consensus despite significant differences on policy issues. Convergence President Rob Fersh also submitted written testimony.  You can watch the full hearing here.

The JSC considered final draft legislation in November 2018. The legislation included several provisions that mirrored those developed by the B3P participants including a biennial process to set spending levels, a fiscal state of the nation process, and provisions designed to strengthen the House and Senate Budget Committees. Unfortunately, the JSC ultimately failed to pass the legislation due to political concerns.

Even though the legislation failed, Members of the JSC formed strong relationships In the 116th Congress, several pieces of legislation have been introduced to reform the budget process, reflecting the work of the JSC and the B3P participants. B3P members remain committed to working with Congress to implement budget process reform.