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Federal Budget: Sources of Information

Ellen Terrell
Business Reference Specialist
June 2014

This guide is intended to assist both those researchers seeking current federal United States budget materials as well as those researchers interested in looking at past federal budgets. The guide offers a section on the background and basics of the budget process as well as sections on current and historical information and includes both print and electronic sources when available.
 

      Background & Basics         Current Budget
               Historical Budget Information        

 

BACKGROUND & BASICS

This is a collection of titles for those who need to learn about the budget process and some of its history.

A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process (GAO, 2005)
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05734sp.pdf [PDF format: 4.74 MB/182 pp.]

Library of Congress How are Laws are Made
http://thomas.loc.gov/home/lawsmade.toc.html

From An Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the year 1803

Image (above): For compensation to the President and Vice President of the United States...
From An Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the year 1803.
Library of Congress General Collections.
Courtesy of Gulnar Nagashybayeva

Budget System and Concepts (Office of Management & Budget)
http://www.whitehouse.gov/.../omb/budget/fy2013/assets/concepts.pdf [PDF format: 1.13 MB/62 pp.]

Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget (1996-2002)
https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/publication/?pid=424 External Link

Budget process law annotated : including the Congressional Budget Act, Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, and related budget-process legislation. Committee on the Budget, United States Senate ; annotations by William G. Dauster. Washington, D.C. U.S. G.P.O., 1991
LC Call Number: KF6222 1991
LC Catalog Record: 93206300

There are several pieces of legislation/laws pertaining to the overall operation of Congress, but the main provisions can be found in Title 2 of the United States Code. The official time line for the process is set in 2 U.S.C. 631.

1. U.S. Constitution (Article I, section 9, clause 7) states:

"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."

2. An Act to define and establish the fiscal year of the Treasury of the United States. (Aug. 26, 1842, 5 Stat. 536)

This is the original Act that set the fiscal year as of July 1. Currently the budget cycle starts on October 1. The full text of this can be found in "The Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America," in Volume 5 (24th-28th, 1835-1845) by clicking on the Title Page and then typing in 536 in Century of Lawmaking resource for the Statutes.

3. Congressional Budget Act of 1974. (Pub.L. 93-344, 88 Stat. 297)
http://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/BUDGET.pdf [PDF format: 187 KB / 68 pp.]

Titles I- IX are collectively known as the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (part of the overall Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974). Title II created the Congressional Budget Office, and this is the legislation that moved the fiscal year start from July to October. This act is the basic blueprint for budget procedures today with some modifications made since.

4. Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (99th Congress, S.1702, Pub.L. 99-177, title II, December 12, 1985, 99 Stat. 1038, 2 U.S.C. 900) and Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 (Pub.L. 100-119, title I, Sept. 29, 1987, 101 Stat. 754, 2 U.S.C. 900) (both often known as Gramm-Rudman)

One of the first attempts at imposing binding constraints on federal spending; its spending caps have become part of every subsequent U.S. budget.

5. Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. (Pub.L. 101-508, title XIII; 104 Stat. 1388-573; codified as amended in scattered sections of 2 U.S.C. & 15 U.S.C. 1022) (title XIII of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990)

An effort to enforce the deficit reduction and revise the budget control process of the Federal Government. Created two new budget control processes: 1) a set of caps on annually-appropriated spending, and 2) a "pay-as-you-go" or "PAYGO" process for entitlements and taxes.

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CURRENT BUDGET

For information on the current budget it may be necessary to look in several places. The President and the Congress each have their roles and responsibilities and information on the budget and specifics related to these roles can be found in the sites described below.

Office of Management & Budget (OMB)
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb

The most current budget is always on the OMB web page. It also contains Circulars which are instructions or information issued by OMB to Federal agencies on a variety of topics. The Economic Report of the President is an annual report that is submitted when the president submits his budget.

House of Representatives:

United States Senate:

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
http://www.cbo.gov/

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which was founded in 1974 produces independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.

General Accountability Office (GAO)
http://www.gao.gov/

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, previously known as the General Accounting Office (GAO), is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates and reports on how the government spends its money.

General Explanations of the Administration's Revenue Proposals (Greenbook)
http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/Pages/general_explanation.aspx

Each February when the President releases his Budget for the following year, Treasury releases the General Explanations of the Administration's Revenue Proposals (also known as the Greenbook) providing additional information about the Administration's budget proposals.

Congress.gov
https://beta.congress.gov/

This is a Library of Congress system formerly referred to as Thomas that makes congressional bills and reports available to the public. At the top there is an easy link to Appropriations legislation. The default is for the current fiscal year but this list is available going back to 2011, and appropriation information may be searched as far back as 1973.

Combined Statement of Receipts, Outlays, and Balances
http://www.fms.treas.gov/annualreport/index.html

The Combined Statement is recognized as the official publication of receipts and outlays with which all other reports containing similar data must be in agreement. It presents budgetary results at the summary and detail level. It is part of a triad of publications that includes: the Monthly Treasury Statement, a report of the government receipts and outlays that is based on agency reporting, and the Daily Treasury Statement, summarizing data on the cash and debt operations of the Treasury based on reporting of the Treasury account balances of the Federal Reserve banks.

Department of Defense Budget Request
http://comptroller.defense.gov/BudgetMaterials.aspx

This is published by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and explains the budget allocation for the Department of Defense. This contains an overview as well as Program Acquisition Costs by Weapons System, Operation and Maintenance Overview, Operation and Maintenance Program, Construction, Procurement Programs, Research Development, Test & Evaluation Programs, etc.

Treasury Bulletin
https://www.fms.treas.gov/bulletin/index.html

Contains a mix of narrative, tables, and charts related to: Treasury issues, federal financial operations, international statistics, liabilities, and financial commitments of the U.S. government.

USASpending.gov
http://www.usaspending.gov/

This page is predominantly about government contracts. It was created by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) of 2006 which required that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establish a single searchable website, accessible to the public at no cost, which includes details for each Federal award (prime and sub contractors). It is also a good source for determining this type of government spending by agency, prime awardee and location (state, congressional district).

U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants: Obligations and Loan Authorizations (Greenbook)
http://gbk.eads.usaidallnet.gov/

This title provides a record of all foreign assistance provided by the United States to the rest of the world. It is a companion to the agency's annual report to Congress. Detailed information goes back to 1946. Past and current volumes are available via USAID's Development Experience Clearinghouse.

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HISTORICAL BUDGET INFORMATION

If you are seeking previous budgets and budget related information, there are print and electronic sources that can be of assistance. Most of the above sources are available for earlier years in either print or electronic form or both. In addition there are a few titles that have ceased publication or may not be included above, but which may be of use for researchers needing historical information.

An Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States. [Washington, D.C. : Treasury Dept.] Began with 1791; ceased with 1890.
LC Call Number: HJ10 .A5
LC Catalog Record: 10011516
Digital copies are available via: HathiTrust External Link (1820-1884 incomplete)
GPO FDsys ( 1793; 1797; 1805-06; 1808-09; 1812-1828; 1830-1890). Search on the title will retrieve all the available years.

Budget in Brief.
Bureau of the Budget later Office of Management and Budget (1951-1990).

http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/publication/?pid=332 External Link

This is a precursor to the Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget.External Link

Budget of the United States Government / United States Office of Management and Budget. -- [Dept. ed.]. -- Washington, D.C. : Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O. 1950-
LC Call Number: HJ2051.A59
LC Catalog Record: 2008200801
Also available online:
FRASER External Link - St. Louis Federal Reserve has all of the individual volumes (1923 to present).
GPO (from 1996)
Message of the President of the United States transmitting the budget for the service of the fiscal year ending ... External Link (1923-1935)

The organization and name has changed over time. The various sections of today's budget began at different times - Appendix (began in 1952 but not published for fiscal years 1991-1994), Special Analyses (began in 1967 under slightly variant titles), Historical Tables (began in 1986), Analytical Perspectives (began 1995).

Combined statement of receipts, expenditures and balances of the United States government. [Washington, Dept. of the Treasury, Fiscal Service, Bureau of Government Financial Operations; for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.]
LC Call Number: HJ10 .A6
LC Catalog Record: 75643656
LC Catalog Record: 2002224056
This title goes back to the 1870's under this call number. It is available online via:
Treasury (1995-current)
HathiTrust External Link (1909-1978 incomplete)
HathiTrust External Link (2001-2008 incomplete)

Consolidated federal funds report. Volume I, County areas. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., [1984-1994]
LC Call Number: HJ9 .C66
LC Catalog Record: 84644630

Related to Federal Outlays in Summary later Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year ... . The reports for 1983-2010 are available via Census Bureau and HathiTrust External Link (1984-1987).

Consolidated federal funds report. Volume II, Subcounty areas. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., [1984]-1994.
LC Call Number: HJ275 .C636
LC Catalog Record: 84644150

Related to Federal Outlays in Summary later Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year .... Some historical information is still being made via Census at: http://www.census.gov/govs/cffr/; some is also available electronicly via: HathiTrust (1984-1991):http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002531692

Consolidated federal funds report: county areas. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1995-
LC Call Number: HJ9 .C66
LC Catalog Record: 96646907

Continues Consolidated federal funds report. Volume I, County areas and Volume II, Subcounty areas This publication ceased being produced effective FY12. Also available digitally via Census Bureau.

Department of Defense Budget Request
http://comptroller.defense.gov/BudgetMaterials.aspx

This is published by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and explains the budget allocation for the Department of Defense. This contains an overview as well as a Program Acquisition Costs by Weapons System, Operation and Maintenance Overview, Operation and Maintenance Program, Construction, Procurement Programs, Research Development, Test & Evaluation Programs, etc. Current documents as well as previous versions beginning in 1998 are available.

Economic report of the President transmitted to the Congress. United States President. -- [Dept. ed.]. -- Washington : G.P.O. : For sale by Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O.
LC Call Number: HC106.5.A272
LC Catalog Record: 47032975

This is an annual report written by the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. It gives an overview the nation's economic progress and is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Available online via: GPO (1995-current) and FRASER - St. Louis Federal Reserve External Link (1947-)

Federal outlays in summary. [Washington, United States Office of Economic Opportunity]
LC Call Number: HC110.P63 U53b
LC Catalog Record: 76642931
LC Catalog Record: 00222872
LC Catalog Record: 78645133

Includes data for the executive branch of the federal government only. Contains state level data also found in Federal outlays in (each individual state). Continued by Geographic distribution of federal funds by individual state. Eventually became Federal aid to states for fiscal year ... which has the same call number. This title is one of two publications comprising the Consolidated Federal Funds Report. The other publication is called: Consolidated Federal Funds Report, state and county areas. This publication ceased being produced effective FY12. Some copies are available electronically via: HathiTrust External Link (1999-2002) and Census (1998-2010).

General Explanations of the Administration's Revenue Proposals (Greenbook)
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury (from FY90 -)
http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/Pages/general_explanation.aspx

Each February when the President releases his Budget for the following year, Treasury releases the General Explanations of the Administration's Revenue Proposals, also known as the Greenbook. This page includes links to those from prior years beginning in 1990.

Historical tables, budget of the United States government / United States Office of Management and Budget. -- Washington [D.C.] :Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget.
LC Call Number: HJ9.U56a
LC Catalog Record: 86642170

This title is published annually (since 1986) as part of the overall Budget title series. Available online via: GPO (from 1996) and FRASER - St. Louis Federal Reserve External Link (1986-)

Treasury Bulletin. United States Treasury Department, Office of the Secretary. [Washington, D.C.] : Dept. of the Treasury, Office of the Secretary : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O.
LC Call Number: HJ10 .A45
LC Catalog Record: 39026387

Contains a mix of narrative, tables, and charts related to: Treasury issues, federal financial operations, international statistics, liabilities, and financial commitments of the U.S. government. Known as the Bulletin of the Treasury Department from 1939-1945, the title changed as of 1945. Electronic copies for particular time frames are available from a variety of sources including:
Treasury (1996-current);
FRASER- St. Louis Federal Reserve External Link (1939-2002);
HathiTrust External Link (full range of issues since 1940's, incomplete).

U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants: Obligations and Loan Authorizations (Greenbook). [Washington, Office of Statistics and Reports, Bureau for Program and Policy Coordination, Agency for International Development. 1964- ].
LC Call Number: HC60 .U48425
LC Catalog Record: 72603302

This title provides a record of all foreign assistance provided by the United States to the rest of the world. It is a companion to the agency's annual report to Congress. Historical data goes back to 1946. Past volumes are available via USAID's Development Experience Clearinghouse.

Last Updated: 7/23/2014

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