Chairman Womack Opening Remarks at CBO Oversight Hearing

As prepared for delivery during today’s hearing, CBO Oversight: Organizational and Operational Structure:

Good morning, and thank you to everyone for being here as we begin a series of oversight hearings on the Congressional Budget Office.

The goal of today’s hearing is to learn more about CBO, which was created as part of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974.

For decades, this agency’s primary duty and function has been to assist Congress in the federal budget-making process by providing cost estimates, economic analysis, working papers and other insightful publications.

Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees rely on CBO as an objective, impartial resource when writing budget resolutions.

The agency also plays a key role in advising this Committee as it enforces budget rules.

Without question, there are dozens of fine men and women employed by CBO, including analysts, management, and support staff.

But more than 40 years since its founding, Congress has not undertaken a comprehensive review of CBO’s structure and processes.

In fact, CBO still operates under its original permanent authorization.

I say this not to raise alarm about the future of CBO or question Congress’s need for it.

It’s simply a fact that serious oversight has not been exercised to ensure the agency still has the tools it needs to be successful in fulfilling its mandate.

That being said, our intention is the same with today’s hearing as it will be with upcoming hearings.

We want to better understand how CBO carries out its nonpartisan mission in service and support to Congress.

During today’s hearing, we will take a closer look at the organizational and operational structure of CBO, including its staffing, assumptions, processes, and work products.

To provide an overview on the inner workings of this congressional support agency and how it has evolved over the years, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Keith Hall.

Dr. Hall has served as Director of CBO since April of 2015, when he became the ninth director of the agency.

Before we hear directly from Dr. Hall, I want to stress again that this series of hearings is not designed to be partisan or to invite “cheap shots” against an agency so vital to the Congress’s ability to budget independently.

However, there are legitimate questions about how CBO operates, and I am hopeful that these hearings will shed light on how we can improve its operations to provide Congress what it needs in the 21st Century.

To ensure CBO can effectively and efficiently carry out its mission, I am pleased we are advancing a comprehensive review through these oversight hearings.

I look forward to productive conversations today with Dr. Hall.