Analysis: Agency budget uncertainty is justified

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

Your agency’s budget for FY 2011 is probably headed for the chopping block… eventually.

Jodi Schneider, a Congressional expert and Senior Editor in the Washington Bureau of the American Banker, told Federal News Radio, it’s nothing personal; it’s just politics.

I think this is going to be a tough year for many agencies. Again, I think they’re going to be dealing with uncertainty. We’re seeing…. what is it, it’s almost May now and we’re seeing things come out of committees on the budget and they have not gotten to the floors above chambers. Obviously the financial legislation is going to take a little bit more time, and I think we may not be seeing much happen in terms of appropriations until this summer and of course that’s always a big worry for the agencies. I think some of them realize that, particularly if they had gotten some of what they wanted last year in President Obama’s first budget and also under Stimulus spending, that they may be having cutbacks this year. So I think there is a lot of uncertainty among the agencies and rightly so.

Schneider pointed out three strikes against federal spending are on the minds of Congress: the national debt, Stimulus and health care.

So there’s been a lot of things that have hit the budget that are expensive. And when you have a new President who has a lot of ideas and very different ideas about domestic spending than his predecessor, you’re going to see a lot of spending, and the Congress has gone along with that. I think at this point, there’s a lot of concerns. There’s political concerns because it’s an election year – Congressional election year, and also I think there’s concerns that the public is wearying of the amount of money, these huge price tags on items being spent. But, of course, being worried about it, concerned about it, and doing something about it are two very different things when it comes to Congress.

Schneider said to expect subcommittees to start budget work “later this spring and early this summer, but in terms of finishing the bills and having them to the President’s desk, I think we’re going to be waiting until after the election and, again, the fiscal year will come and go and we will be operating under our friend the CR (continuing resolution).”

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