Office of Management and Budget

Author:Harold H. Bruff

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The rapid growth of the federal government in the twentieth century has created the need for an institution to coordinate both fiscal and substantive policy. In 1921, Congress empowered the President to prepare and submit a BUDGET for the government. Previously, the government

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had had no central budgeting function: the various agencies had made funding requests directly to the appropriations committees in Congress. The President exercises the budgeting function through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Although OMB controls the requests that Congress receives, Congress is free to appropriate any amount that it considers appropriate.

The budgeting function accords the President an important opportunity to set the agenda for congressional deliberations over appropriations. Notwithstanding the modern presence of a budget process within Congress itself, Congress finds itself responding initially to the President's views of the best resource allocation for the government. And, of course, Congress is aware that its departure from the President's recommended budget may result in the presidential veto of an appropriations bill. In consequence, through OMB the President exercises great influence on actual appropriations. Moreover, appropriations usually confer discretion concerning the amounts to be spent and the precise uses to be made of the funds. The President supervises the agencies' actual spending through OMB.

OMB also exercises limited control over the substantive policies that the agencies follow. The Supreme Court, in MYERS V. UNITED STATES (1926), recognized presidential power to "supervise and guide" the executive agencies in their exercise of power that Congress has delegated to them. This does not extend to the independent regulatory commissions because, in HUMPHREY ' S EXECUTOR V. UNITED STATES (1935), the Supreme Court declared those commissions to be independent of the President...

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