The three-year freeze, which Obama will also mention in his State of the Union speech Wednesday, is expected to save $250 billion over the next 10 years, the officials said.
However, they stressed that the freeze is surgical and will not affect important initiatives.
"We have actually gone through very carefully and some agencies will be up, some agencies will be down, investments made in key areas balanced by reductions in others," an official said.
"So while there's an overall freeze it doesn't mean that every single program or every single agency is frozen. It's a more sophisticated and nuanced approach than that," the official added.
The freeze comes as Democrats and the White House have sharpened their focus from helping the economy recover from a sharp recession to cutting the deficit, which hit $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009, or 10 percent of the gross domestic product, a level not seen since just after World War II.
Exempt from the proposed freeze would be Defense Department spending, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department.