Enzi: It’s Time For a Better Budget Process

WASHINGTON D.C. – During the Senate Budget Committee’s second in a series of hearings focused on America’s broken budget process, Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) today said congressional budgets are no longer governing documents and are increasingly ignored, leaving the country without a long-term plan.  He said it's time for a better budget process that allocates taxpayer resources effectively and efficiently.

“It's long past time for a serious, constructive conversation about how we fix our broken budget process,” said Chairman Enzi. “Congress rarely, if ever, actually looks at what happened to the money we've already spent.  Instead, we are constantly focused on how to spend this year's new money. When Congress spends money on a program, it should also spend time understanding how effective that program has been in the past and what other resources are devoted to that goal, with an eye to successful outcomes and the highest value for taxpayer dollars.”

Enzi noted that the current budget process encourages incremental, isolated decision-making that focuses on spending rather than results. This makes it difficult to make changes to funding levels because Congress frequently ends up debating how much more or less funding a particular program should receive, rather than whether the funding that program has already received leads to the desired outcome.  

“America’s budget process does not set goals or ask whether federal funding accomplished what it was supposed to do,” Chairman Enzi said.  “Essentially Congress doesn't even have a good way of knowing whether the money it previously spent was effective at achieving the policy goal. The growing share of mandatory funding in the budget has exacerbated this problem.  Mandatory programs operate on auto-pay without the need for congressional review, so there is absolutely no connection between funding decisions and program performance. It's time for a better budget process that helps us allocate taxpayer resources to produce desired policy goals effectively and efficiently.” 

The chairman said that in order for Congress to have a better budget process, agencies must have a detailed accounting of all of the resources that are being devoted to a particular policy goal, and how those resources interact with each other. Decision-makers also need to know whether programs are performing effectively and whether they are achieving the desired outcomes.  He said that programs with the best performance should receive more funding, and poorly performing programs should receive less or none at all.


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