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1 THE VALUE OF A NONPARTISAN, INDEPENDENT, OBJECTIVE ANALYTIC UNIT TO THE LEGISLATIVE ROLE IN BUDGET PREPARATION Barry Anderson IMF XVII Regional Seminar.

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Presentation on theme: "1 THE VALUE OF A NONPARTISAN, INDEPENDENT, OBJECTIVE ANALYTIC UNIT TO THE LEGISLATIVE ROLE IN BUDGET PREPARATION Barry Anderson IMF XVII Regional Seminar."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 THE VALUE OF A NONPARTISAN, INDEPENDENT, OBJECTIVE ANALYTIC UNIT TO THE LEGISLATIVE ROLE IN BUDGET PREPARATION Barry Anderson IMF XVII Regional Seminar on Fiscal Policy The Role Of Parliament in the Fiscal Policy Formulation Process January 25, 2005

2 2 A NONPARTISAN, INDEPENDENT, OBJECTIVE ANALYTIC UNIT Potential Value Core Functions Fundamental Characteristics Examples of Independent Budget Units Conclusions

3 3 A LEGISLATIVE ROLE IN BUDGET PREPARATION IS ASSUMED Issues not addressed include:  Does an increased legislative role lead to bigger deficits?  Does an increased legislative role lead to more “pork barrel” spending?  Can an independent unit help either of the above? But I will address the benefits such a unit can have in reaching a better balance between the executive and the legislature.

4 4 POTENTIAL VALUE Eliminate Executive’s Information Monopoly Simplifies Complexity Promotes Transparency Enhances Credibility Promotes Accountability Improves Budget Process Serves Both Majority & Minority Provides Rapid Responses

5 5 VALUE OF UNIT CAN CHANGE Value At Creation  More Information for Legislature relative to Executive Value After Creation  More Information for Minority Parties relative to Majority Parties

6 6 CORE FUNCTIONS I. Economic Forecasts II. Baseline Estimates III. Analysis of Executive’s Budget Proposals IV. Medium Term Analysis

7 7 I: ECONOMIC FORECASTS Objective  Not a function of policy proposals - not “dynamic”  Not based on wishful thinking - no rosy scenario  Not a means to an end - for example, interest rates, & oil & crop prices are estimates, not targets Conservative - allows for better-than-forecasted performance to reduce deficits/debt “Centrist”, based on:  Panel of experts  Private forecasters  Central Bank

8 8 II: BASELINE ESTIMATES A Projection, not a Prediction “Centrist” Economic Forecast Current Law Basis, including  “Spend Out” of Enacted Legislation  Termination of Expiring Legislation Medium Term Focus Replaces Previous Year & Executive Baselines

9 9 III: ANALYSIS OF EXECUTIVE’S BUDGET PROPOSALS An objective budgetary assessment  A technical review - not a programmatic evaluation Enhances credibility – both of government as a whole and of executive forecasts

10 10 IV: MEDIUM TERM ANALYSIS Forces executive to look beyond one year Estimates medium term economic and fiscal impacts of policy proposals Important to take account of Fiscal Risks:  Guarantees  Pension liabilities  Contingent liabilities  PPPs Provides basis for Long Term Analysis

11 11 OTHER FUNCTIONS Analysis of proposals Options for spending cuts Analysis of mandates (regulatory analysis) Economic analyses Tax analyses Long term analysis Policy briefs

12 12 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS Nonpartisan (not Bipartisan)  Director should be more technical than political  Staff should be entirely technical  Develop an esprit de corps Independent Objective Informed Serve Both Majority & Minority Transparent (Everything on the Internet) Understandable

13 13 ADDITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS Put core functions in law Do not make recommendations Brief Members first, especially if news is bad Serve Committees, not Members Meet with anyone, but be balanced Be physically separate from legislature Avoid limelight Be responsive and timely

14 14 Countries with Specialized Legislative Budget Research Organizations With 26 or more staff: 3 (Korea, Mexico, US) With less than 10 staff: 8 (Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan {more than 10}, Jordan, Netherlands, Sweden) None: 28 (Including Argentina, Bolivia, Columbia, Suriname, and Uruguay. Note that Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and other Latin American countries did not participate in the Survey.) Source: OECD/World Bank Survey of Budget Practices:

15 15 ORIGINS OF CBO Budgetary Dominance of President Nixon  Impoundment  Creation of a More Powerful OMB  Monopoly on Budget Information Other Factors  Deficits without War or Recession  Complexity  Long Term Perspective  Gimmicks Budgetary Weakness of Congress  No Budget Process  Creation of Budget Committees  Separation of Powers: CBO vs. OMB  Precedents of GAO, CRS, OTA

16 16 One View of CBO: Like A Sewer “What the House wanted [when CBO was created] was basically a manhole in which Congress would have a bill or something and it would lift up the manhole cover and put the bill down it, and 20 minutes later a piece of paper would be handed up, with the cost estimate, the answer, on it. No visibility, [just] some kind of mechanism down below the ground level doing this...non-controversial [work], the way the sewer system [does].”

17 17 OMB’s INITIAL PUBLIC VIEW OF CBO Nonpartisan Objective Widely Respected Gimmick-free

18 18 OMB’s INITIAL PRIVATE VIEW OF CBO W idely R espected O bjective N onpartisan G immick-free

19 19 FunctionCoreOtherTotal Executive Direction Macroeconomic Analysis Tax Analysis Budget Analysis 80 Baseline20 Analysis of Proposals 45 Mandates 15 Program Divisions 75 Technical & Administrative Total Distribution of CBO Staff

20 20 Staffing by Core Function Core FunctionCBOIBO (NYC) LAO (Calif) Executive Direction563 Macroeconomic & Tax Analysis1045 Budget Analysis Technical & Administrative1059 Total452753

21 21 CONCLUSIONS Legislatures need an independent source of information to improve their participation in budget preparation. A nonpartisan, independent, objective analytic unit can provide information without polarizing relations between executive and legislature. Successful creation of such a unit is not easy: in particular, it demands balance in a political environment.


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