Federal Budget Reform

Dialogue Proposals Making an Impact in Congress

In October 2020, the US House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress demonstrated strong bipartisanship, unanimously passing 97 recommendations to help Congress work more effectively. One chapter of the Report, “Reform the Budget and Appropriations Process,” reviews, explains and promotes 7 important federal budget process recommendations.

It is a source of pride for Convergence that the Committee’s recommendations leaned heavily on the proposals developed by the participants in our 2018 Building a Better Budget Process dialogue. Read Convergence’s statement in response to the release of the Committee’s recommendations.

The 12 members of the Select Committee, 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans led by Chair Derek Kilmer and Vice Chair Tom Graves, approved the budget reform recommendations unanimously. The Select Committee’s package of Budget Reform recommendations include:

  • Fiscal State of the Nation
  • Biennial Budgeting
  • Realistic Deadline for Congress to Complete Action on a Biennial Budget
  • Annual Supplemental Budget Submission by the President
  • Encourage Examination of How Two-Year Budget Resolution Will Change Schedule or Approach in the Budget Process
  • Strengthen Budget Enforcement (through the reconciliation process)
  • Include Total Combined Outlays and Revenues for Tax Expenditures as an Optional Item in the Budget Resolution

Read on for more details about the Building a Better Budget Process Project.

Convergence Building a Better Budget Process Project

Convergence convened the Building a Better Budget Process Project (B3P) in November 2016 to address the often dysfunctional federal budget process.

Twenty-three ideologically diverse stakeholders representing an array of interests reached consensus on five practical, politically realistic proposals to improve the process that Congress uses to manage the $4 trillion annual budget.

Released in February 2018, the proposals received considerable attention on Capitol Hill. The proposals were presented at a Congressional hearing that May, although, ultimately, Congress took no action on budget process reform before the end of the session. Several pieces of legislation introduced in the current Congress contain B3P ideas and, if enacted, could help ensure that the budget process functions more effectively.

In September 2019, B3P testified again about their proposals, this time in front of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The hearing centered on recommendations for improving the budget and appropriations process so that Congress functions more effectively.

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Significant media coverage:

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Project Summary   

The Building a Better Budget Process 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, stakeholders of the B3P project identified for a better budget process and five key reforms to improve the transparency, predictability, and comprehensiveness of the budget process.

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