Documents Involved in the Federal Budget Process - Executive Branch Documentation, Legislative (Congressional) Documentation of Disposition of the Request, Audit and Oversight Process Reports

Executive Branch Documentation of the Budget Requests

From the perspective of operating components, there are four main documented outputs of the budget formulation process:   (1)  The request to the next higher echelon in the hierarchy, (2) this level's request to the agency level, (3)  the agency request to OMB, and (4) the request to Congress.  This last one is made public at the time of submission.
 

The operating component requests and the requests to agency level are internal agency documents, with formats and requirements for information specified by each agency's budget staffs.  These specifications generally follow a set of principles aimed at facilitating the decision process as well as to document the requests and their disposition, and to provide an audit trail.
 
The request to OMB consists of the requirements spelled out in OMB Circular A-11, plus supplemental materials required by OMB branches that deal with agencies.  The OMB requirements are aimed at facilitating understanding of the request and to allow OMB to prepare the consolidated documents of the President's budget submission.
 
The President's budget request consists of the formal Budget of the United States, which covers all of the Federal Government, with its associated documents (available for download or in paper copy from GPO or major libraries; also available in CD ROM from GPO).  The documents are:  The Budget, Budget Appendix, Analytical Perspectives, Citizen's Guide, Budget System and Concepts, and Historical Tables.  (These documents can be accessed on the Internet.  Click to go to the links page.)
By law, the budget submission deadline is the first Monday in February, or February 7, 2000, for the FY 2001 request.The legal basis for this budget requirement is at 31 USC Sec. 1105, 01/06/97, Title 31 (Money and Finance), Subtitle II (The Budget Process), Chapter 11 (The Budget And Fiscal, Budget, And Program Information), Sec. 1105. Budget contents and submission to Congress: "... (a) On or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first Monday in February of each year, the President shall submit a budget of the United States Government for the following fiscal year. Each budget shall include a budget message and summary and supporting information. ..."

The agency's supplementation of the President's request (also called the President's request or the Congressional request) explains in detail the basis for the agency request.  This document provides the main interface with Congress on the budget request.  It is the documentation that is reviewed before and during the hearings on the request, and forms the basis for the questioning that occurs before, during, and after the hearings.  (Many of these documents can be accessed on the Internet, agency by agency.  Click to go to the links page.)
 
This document also provides the detailed information to back up what was meant by a specific request absent other documentation, such as specific statutory language or statements in the various reports associated with Congressional action.
 
This document is prepared to meet the requirements and specifications of the appropriations subcommittee members and staff.  These documents can be obtained from the agencies or the GPO.   (For examples, see LINKS3 for links to agency documents, available in HTML or PDF formats.)


Legislative (Congressional) Documentation of Disposition of the Request

Subcommittees and committees of the House and Senate prepare reports to explain their recommendations, as does the conference committee.  These documents are eventually made public.  They provide detailed information on what is expected to be funded, why, and also provide instructions to the agency on matters of interest to Congress.
 
These reports become available as actions take place, and those with an interest (such as agency representatives tracking the activity or the media) can get copies at the time they become available for Congressional review.

Audit and Oversight Process Reports

There are many.  Other Appropriations Committee reports can be relevant, especially if they deal with matters related to the agency's interests (for example, ports and navigation are of interest to the Coast Guard as well as the Commerce Department).
 
GAO prepares many reports, dealing with fiscal as well as substantive agency operations matters (see GAO home page, where GAO reports can be found, as well as GAO testimony on matters of interest to Congress.

Instructions and Other Guidance Documents

OMB Circulars and materials issued by the National Performance Review are also relevant to agency budget matters.  The CFO Council's Cost Accounting Implementation Guide has extensive discussion of cost accounting matters.  (CFOs are Chief Financial Officers of an agency.)  Other sources are at Budget execution and Other Information.v