The Executive Budget Process Timetable

The Executive Budget Process Timetable
Bill Heniff Jr.
Analyst on the Congress and Legislative Process
Government and Finance Division
The executive budget process is a complex set of activities that includes formulation
of the President’s budget, interaction with Congress, and execution of the budget. While
some of the activities are required by specific dates, many follow a more flexible schedule
established by formal and informal rules and procedures. Table 1 provides a timetable
of the major steps in the executive budget process. For more information on the budget
process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes at [
The developmental phase of the executive budget process largely is coordinated
through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which assists the President in the
preparation of the budget and its execution. OMB budget guidelines are communicated
formally to federal agencies through circulars, bulletins, and other publications.
The initial development of the President’s budget begins in the individual federal
agencies approximately 10 months before the President submits it to Congress (about 18
months before the start of the fiscal year). At any given time, agencies conceivably could
be working on the budgets for three fiscal years simultaneously. For example, in May
2008, agencies were implementing the FY2008 budget, seeking funds for the FY2009
budget, and beginning to develop the FY2010 budget.
Federal agencies submit initial budget requests to OMB for review in the early fall,
often in September. During this review phase, OMB staff clarify policy and technical
questions with the agencies in order to make recommendations to the OMB director. The
budgetary decisions of the OMB director are passed back to the agencies, in what is
known as an OMB “passback.” Federal agencies may appeal these decisions, but usually
only have a limited time to do so. The appeals are made to the OMB director, and in
some cases, to the President directly. Once final decisions are made, federal agencies
revise their budget requests accordingly to be included in the President’s comprehensive
budget submission to Congress, which is required to be submitted by the first Monday in
February for the fiscal year beginning October 1 (31 U.S.C. 1105(a)).
During the congressional phase of the federal budget process, executive branch
activities concerning the budget year largely are driven by the congressional budget
process. These activities typically involve negotiations with Congress about budgetary
legislation. For more on the congressional budget process timetable, see CRS Report 98-

472, The Congressional Budget Process Timetable, by Bill Heniff Jr.

Table 1. The Executive Budget Process Timetable
Da te Activ ities
Calendar Year Prior to the Year in Which Fiscal Year Begins
SpringOMB issues planning guidance to executive agencies for the
budget beginning October 1 of the following year.
Spring and SummerAgencies begin development of budget requests.
JulyOMB issues annual update to Circular A-11, providing detailed
instructions for submitting budget data and material for agency
budget requests.
SeptemberAgencies submit initial budget requests to OMB.
October-NovemberOMB staff review agency budget requests in relation to
President’s priorities, program performance, and budget
November-DecemberPresident, based on recommendations by the OMB director,
makes decisions on agency requests. OMB informs agencies of
decisions, commonly referred to as OMBpassback.”
DecemberAgencies may appeal these decisions to the OMB director and in
some cases directly to the President.
Calendar Year in Which Fiscal Year Begins
By first Monday in FebruaryPresident submits budget to Congress.
February-SeptemberCongressional phase. Agencies interact with Congress,
justifying and explaining President’s budget.
By July 15President submits mid-session review to Congress.
August 21 (or within 10 daysAgencies submit apportionment requests to OMB for each
after approval of a spending bill)budget account.
September 10 (or within 30 daysOMB apportions available funds to agencies by time period,
after approval of a spending bill)program, project, or activity.
October 1Fiscal year begins.
Calendar Years in Which Fiscal Year Begins and Ends
October-SeptemberAgencies make allotments, obligate funds, conduct activities,
and request supplemental appropriations, if necessary. President
may propose supplemental appropriations and impoundments
(i.e., deferrals or rescissions) to Congress.
September 30Fiscal year ends.
Source: Office of Management and Budget, Circular No. A-11 (Washington: July 2007), Section 10.5.
The President is required to submit a mid-session review of the budget by July 15
(31 U.S.C. 1106). This budget update reflects changed economic conditions, any
legislative actions taken by Congress, and other factors affecting the President’s budget
submission. In addition, the President may revise his budget submission any time during
the legislative session.
Federal agencies may incur obligations and make outlays after the beginning of a
new fiscal year on October 1 if Congress passes, and the President signs, the
appropriations acts into law. In some years, however, all appropriations bills are not

enacted by this time. Continuing resolutions typically are adopted until Congress and the
President can agree on any appropriations bills still remaining.