The Budgetary Process*

In January, almost two years before the start of the federal fiscal year on October 1, the Office of Management and Budget presents long-range forecasts of revenues and expenditures to the president. The president and the OMB develop guidelines for all federal agencies, which prepare and submit budget requests by July. The OMB reviews agency requests and holds budget hearings in August through September of the year before. In November and December, the OMB presents a revised budget to the president and a budget message is prepared and presented to Congress in January of the year in which the fiscal year starts.

From February through May the Congressional Budget Office reviews the budget and reports to the House and Senate budget committees. From May through June these committees establish the "first concurrent resolution," which sets the overall total for budget outlays in major categories. From July through September, appropriations committees and subcommittees draw up detailed appropriations and submit them to the congressional budget committees for the "second concurrent resolution." The full House and Senate pass the second concurrent resolution, reconciling the overall budget targets of the House and Senate. In September and October the House and Senate pass the actual appropriations bills funding the departments and agencies of government. Since the fiscal year begins October 1, Congress often must pass "continuing resolutions" to fund government in the interim until the appropriations bills are passed.