In a new set of memos from Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeff Zients, federal agencies must cut their discretionary budget by five percent for the 2014 fiscal year budget.
“Therefore, while the 2014 process will represent another challenging budget year, it also provides another opportunity to make the hard decisions necessary to spur job creation and job growth and put the Nation on a path of fiscal sustainability,” Zients wrote. “To achieve these goals, your 2014 budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should reflect the President’s commitment to cut waste, set priorities among programs, and make targeted investments in critical priorities.”
Agencies should also provide a prioritized list detailing which cuts should be added back, if it is deemed possible. Zients said this would give President Barack Obama “the options needed to make the hard choices necessary to adhere to the [Budget Control Act]’s discretionary funding levels, invest in priority areas and focus on programs that work.”
OMB is also asking the use of evidence in evaluating the 2014 budget, providing a detailed description of what OMB will be looking for.
Among its many recommendations, OMB suggested:
- Low-cost evaluations using administrative data or new technology;
- Expansion of evaluation efforts within existing programs;
- Using comparative cost-effectiveness data to allocate resources;
- Tying grant awards to evidence;
- Using evidence to inform enforcement of criminal, environmental and workplace-safety laws;
- Appointing a high-level official to strengthen agency evaluation capacity.