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Thursday, December 20, 2012

OMB delaying budget passback guidance, creating uncertainty

The fiscal 2014 budget is on hold.

Agency officials across the government have not received budget passback documents and likely will not until the White House and Congress agree on deficit reduction steps or both parties give up and let sequestration take place. An Office of Management and Budget official confirmed in an email to Federal News Radio the administration "has held off on passbacks to agencies to determine if adjustments will be needed based on the current negotiations. No decisions have been made at this point regarding budget timing." OMB traditionally sends passback, or budget guidance, which includes both actual spending numbers and policy guidance for the current and upcoming fiscal year, right around Thanksgiving. But several long-time senior agency leaders said they can't remember a time when OMB held up the communications this long.

OMB did provide agencies with initial planning guidance in May, but nothing since departments submitted their spending requests to the White House in September.

The OMB official said they asked agencies for additional information and analysis after September to update the estimates in the Sequestration Transparency Act report. The administration is using the data to finalize calculations of the spending reductions that would be required. The request was of a technical nature. For example, OMB requested the sequestrable federal administrative expenses in otherwise exempt mandatory accounts.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com
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