OMB seeks to clarify 2013 budget guidance

The Office of Management and Budget is looking to clarify last week's memorandum instructing federal agencies to submit fiscal 2013 budget requests that are between 5 percent and 10 percent lower than current discretionary funding levels.

The guidance is aimed at providing options for deficit reduction in light of the recently enacted Budget Control Act, said OMB Director Jack Lew in an Aug. 18 blog post. "This does not mean that we will institute either a 5 percent or a 10 percent cut in an individual agency's budget or in all agency budgets," Lew wrote.

He emphasized that the Obama administration does not want agencies to make across-the-board cuts, but rather to focus on eliminating waste and putting resources into cost-effective programs. "Thus, some agency budgets will decrease (and some more than others), some will stay flat, and some may increase (and, again, some more than others) -- and the same goes for programs within agencies," Lew said.

OMB did not return a request for comment on what, if any, feedback agencies have provided on the memo.

The Obama administration sent an Aug. 17 memo to agencies asking them to outline two budget-cutting scenarios when they devise their 2013 requests, which are due next month. The guidance instructed agencies to plan a 2013 budget that is at least 5 percent below their 2011 spending levels. Agencies also should identify additional savings that would bring their 2013 budget requests to at least 10 percent below their current enacted appropriations, the memo stated.

Such guidance from OMB is not unusual. In a June 2010 memo, then-OMB Director Peter Orszag directed nonsecurity agencies to submit a fiscal 2012 budget request 5 percent below the discretionary total provided for them in the fiscal 2011 budget.

When looking for places to cut, federal managers must step back and consider all the factors driving program and operation costs, including people, real estate and technology, said Janet Hale, a director at Deloitte Consulting LLP. Hale, who worked in government for nearly two decades -- most recently as the first undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department -- said various agencies have found significant cost savings over the years, whether through scaling back on long-term technology projects or consolidating redundant programs.

"This is a journey," said Hale, of effectively managing federal budgets and spending. "There are lots of steps along the way. So the actions they [agencies] take in 2011 and '12 are going to set the stage for how well they face the budget pressures of '13, '14 and '15," she said.

Hale said the executive branch and Capitol Hill have to work together to identify savings in federal programs and the most efficient ways to deliver services to American taxpayers. "Agencies are trying to do what's right," but often get caught in the middle of tussles between the administration and Congress, she said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
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.