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Why An E-Budget?

09 Jan 2008
Posted by Stan Collender

OMB Director Jim Nussle announced today that the Bush fiscal 2009 budget, which will be submitted to Congress on February 4, will posted online and not provided in printed books to Congress, the media, and executive branch departments and agencies.  Here's the full Nussle statement.

In an effort to save taxpayer dollars and reduce unnecessary paper copies, I am pleased to announce the White House will release an E-Budget on Monday, February 4, 2008.   This step to go paperless for the first time means the White House will not order hard copy versions of the upcoming Fiscal Year 2009 Federal Budget, and will instead post the Budget online at The E-Budget will be fully searchable, available for downloading, and will continue a hallmark of the Bush Administration – greater transparency of federal spending.With an estimated total of nearly 2,200 pages in the four-book budget set, and a projected order of more than 3,000 copies for the media, Capitol Hill and the White House, the E-Budget will have a “green” focus above and beyond the fiscal sense. This step will save nearly 20 tons of paper, or roughly 480 trees. In terms of fiscal savings, we estimate the E-Budget will save nearly a million dollars over the next five years.  Having an E-Budget also aligns well with the President’s E-Gov initiative, which focuses on utilizing technology to make the Federal Government more efficient and to improve transparency in order to better serve citizens, businesses and agencies alike.The White House has made the decision to embrace an E-Budget, and we encourage others to make the same choice.   Background: Paper copies of the FY09 Budget can still be ordered from the Government Printing Office.

In general, this is a great idea and a natural extension of providing the budget on a CD, which I think was started by Leon Panetta.  But…and it’s a big but…at least in the short term this will make it harder for people to look at and analyze the budget while they get used to the new format (kind of like what happens when you first switch from the NY Times in print to the on-line version).  That may limit immediate reactions – mostly negative – when the budget is released.  Since this may be the last budget this president will prepare, a cynical person might say that this is an attempt to reduce criticism.


The statement about “transparency” must be a joke.  The Bush budgets have had less information and more fluff than any others I’ve worked on.

Fortunately for researchers,

Fortunately for researchers, the Government Printing Office plans to publish the Budget publications and distribute them to Federal Depository Library Program participants, notwithstanding the OMB announcement. See the announcement sent to the FDLP listserv archived here:

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