September 1, 2014

A Two-Year Budget Cycle Could Save Time, Improve Efficiency

  • The federal budget process is a mixture of rules, timelines and norms that work together to influence policy decisions. It shapes how the...

Once again, the Congressional budget process broke down this year.  The fiscal year ended last month without Congress passing a budget resolution or a single appropriations bill for the new fiscal year.  Cliff Isenberg, chief budget counsel for The Concord Coalition, sees merit in a reform proposal -- biennial budgeting – that would convert the budget and appropriations process into a two-year cycle.

A two-year cycle alone is no magic bullet, Isenberg wrote in a recent article in The Hill’s Congress Blog. It is no substitute for making tough decisions. But as part of a comprehensive plan to reform the budget process and reassess government priorities, he writes, it would be a sensible step that could avoid repetitious debates on Capitol Hill and provide more time for better congressional oversight and long-range planning.

“Biennial budgeting could also improve the efficiency of agencies where preparing detailed budget documents has become a year-round process,” Isenberg adds. “If less time were spent preparing budgets, more resources could be shifted to long-term management and oversight.”