Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

senate Bill S. 278

Should the Congressional Budget Office Have to Show its Work by Making Data & Models Public?

Argument in favor

Congress needs a scorekeeper like the CBO, but there’s no reason for it to keep its fiscal and economic models a secret. The public deserves to know how the models they pay for work.

Argument opposed

The CBO should continue to keep its fiscal and policy models a secret so that they’re not subject to politically motivated criticism. The public doesn’t need to know how the models work.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Budget
    IntroducedJanuary 30th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 278?

This bill — known as the CBO Show Your Work Act — would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to make fiscal models, policy models, and data preparation routines that it uses in estimating the costs and other fiscal, social, or economic effects of legislation publicly available in a manner that allows them to be replicated. For any data that the CBO can’t release, it would be required to provide a list of all data variables, descriptive statistics for those variables (to the extent it can be disclosed), and contact information for whomever has unrestricted access.

This bill’s requirements would take effect six months after the bill’s enactment.

Impact

The public; and the CBO.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 278

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to improve the legislative process by making the CBO more transparent and accountable

“Congress does need a scorekeeper to provide budgetary estimates for the policy changes it considers. But at a bare minimum, that scorekeeper should be forced to show how its models work. Currently the CBO doesn’t have to do that. That is why I have reintroduced the CBO Show Your Work Act of 2019,” Lee continued. “This bill would require the CBO to publish its data, models, and all details of computation used in its cost analysis and scoring. CBO would keep its role as official scorekeeper of congressional budget proposals – but now the American people and the economic community would be able to see what’s going on in all those spreadsheets and algorithms.”

When he introduced this bill last Congress, Sen. Lee said:

“Congress does need a scorekeeper to provide budgetary estimates for the policy changes it considers. But at a bare minimum, that scorekeeper should be forced to show how its models work. Currently the CBO doesn’t have to do that… This bill would require the CBO to publish its data, models, and all details of computation used in its cost analysis and scoring. CBO would keep its role as official scorekeeper of congressional budget proposals -- but now the American people and the economic community would be able to see what’s going on in all those spreadsheets and algorithms.”

FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group, supports this bill. Its president, Adam Brandon, writes

"Created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides members and staff of the House and Senate with fiscal and economic analyses of legislation and budget forecasts. The CBO, however, is not currently required to show the models and data on which it makes its assumptions. While the CBO is an independent, nonpartisan agency, the agency has been criticized for providing inaccurate analyses and forecasts to Congress, including economic projections that failed to predict a major recession and wildly inaccurate assumptions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act. More recently, the CBO provided coverage estimates on health insurance reform legislation guided by a baseline that was not grounded in reality... The CBO Show Your Work Act would require the CBO to make the models and data employed to produce its analyses and cost estimates, as well as any details that were used, available to Congress and on the agency’s website. This much-needed transparency will allow interested parties outside of Congress to hold the CBO accountable... Analyses and estimates produced by the CBO have a tremendous impact on public policy debates inside the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is important that the models and data used to come to the conclusions that the CBO reaches are open to the public."

The CBO's defenders argue that trying to meddle in the CBO's processes undermines the agency's legitimacy as a neutral arbiter of fiscal disputes.

There are 19 Republican Senate cosponsors of this bill in the 116th Congress. A House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) with 14 Republican House cosponsors' support, has also been introduced in the current Congressional session.

In the 115th Congress, this legislation had the support of 22 Republican Senate cosponsors and didn't receive a committee vote. The House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Davidson, had 16 Republican House cosponsors and also didn't receive a committee vote.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: CBO / Public Domain)

AKA

CBO Show Your Work Act

Official Title

A bill to require the Congressional Budget Office to make publicly available the fiscal and mathematical models, data, and other details of computations used in cost analysis and scoring.

    There are currently no opinions on this bill, be the first to add one!