Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

A Rousing Game of Budgetball


By Timothy B. Clark

Here's a news scoop for you: David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States, was the top scorer in first round of Budgetball on the Mall today.

What's Budgetball? Well, as Walker explained, it's a game designed to teach people--mainly young people--about fiscal responsibility. "It's your future that's being mortgaged at a rapid pace," he told a sweaty crowd of college students gathered beneath the Washington Monument to play the game this afternoon.

Walker's team was joined by a Treasury Department team in advancing to the second round, and rumors floated that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner might be on his way over to cheer his employees on before leaving for China tonight.

Budgetball was invented in a partnership between Walker's organization, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the National Academy of Public Administration. NAPA reached out to a group of historically black colleges, raised money for their transportation costs, and about half a dozen teams showed up for the 16-team competition. Their athletic and youthful players were pitted against Treasury, Walker's band of fiscal warriors, and other teams representing the Washington establishment. One such team, representing the Urban Institute, was captained by former Congressional Budget Office director Robert Reischauer, who himself was on the sidelines with a recent ice hockey injury.

So how does it work? Teams score by passing a ball from one player to another until it's caught in one of the end zones. You can "save" budget bucks by choosing to "sacrifice"--by stipulating that your players must pass standing on only one leg, or wearing oven mitts. And you can "borrow" and "spend" by, say, by adding an extra, seventh player to your team, or picking one player whose scores will count for two goals instead of one. If you win, and retain a surplus of budget bucks, you can carry those over to the next round. Walker, designated as a two-for-one scorer, racked up 7 of his team's 14 points in the first round.

Rock and roll blared, the hot sun blazed, spectators chugged water and Gatorade, and a big sign announced: "Budgetball on the Mall: The Nation Gets Fiscal." Whether the last half of that pronouncement comes to pass remains to be seen. But if you'd like to try your own hand at getting fiscal by making large cuts in the federal deficit, try the budget simulator created by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, whose staff was among those sweating and competing on the Mall.


Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.