Budget

OMB offers advice for fiscal 2016

Fiscal 2015 doesn't begin for almost five months, but the Office of Management and Budget is already thinking about fiscal 2016.

OMB released a memo May 5 instructing departments and agencies to reduce their discretionary spending requests by 2 percent for fiscal 2016 unless "given explicit direction otherwise."

The savings are to be directed to the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative for which President Barack Obama requested $56 billion in his fiscal 2015 budget. The program seeks to "continue to build on the president's vision for growth, opportunity and national security by reducing spending on lower priority programs in order to create room for effective investments in areas that remain critical to securing our nation's future."

The initiative would provide additional funding beyond legislated spending caps for a multitude of programs, including a variety of IT projects, the National Institutes of Health, job training and an expanded earned income tax credit. The money would be split evenly between domestic and defense programs.

The savings would also be targeted to programs that support the president's management agenda, and OMB cited smarter IT delivery and cybersecurity initiatives as two priorities in that arena.

The proposal is a largely symbolic gesture on Obama's part. In the current fiscal and legislative environment, there is no chance that Congress will fund the plan for what he terms pro-growth investments.

But even though the proposal is likely to be quickly forgotten by Congress, OMB wants executive branch agencies to remember it as they suit up for 2016.

While they are targeting "ways to increase effectiveness and reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication," OMB directs agencies to "identify additional investments in effective programs that further support their mission."

About the Author

Jonathan Lutton is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him at jlutton@fcw.com

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