You may have heard of the Congressional Budget Office, the legislative branch agency tasked with advising Congress on the potential economic impact of legislation. In formulating these analyses, CBO may rely on outside experts. The agency has three panels of advisers (Economic, Health, and Health Insurance) composed of experts from academia, the private sector, and elsewhere that provide input on CBO analyses, and CBO also consults with other outside experts.
These outside advisers have the potential to influence CBO’s perspective, which is why the advisers are required to disclose their significant financial interests as a way of surfacing potential conflicts. Until recently, CBO did not publish on its website information about how to review the forms.
A coalition of 28 organizations wrote to newly-appointed CBO Director Phillip Swagel about the issue and several others in July — we had written the previous director two years ago, but not about this — and last week the agency posted instructions for viewing advisers’ financial disclosures on its website. They are: “The disclosure reports are available to the public in CBO’s office upon request. Requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
We would prefer the CBO go further and publish the initial and annual filings online for members of the three panels of advisers — this is common practice for senior executive branch officials who file financial disclosure reports with the Office of Governmental Ethics — but we welcome this step by CBO in publishing online a guide to how to access the reports.
Written by Amelia Strauss and Daniel Schuman