In July, I listed the seven stages of the process, and gave general guidance on influencing outcomes to favor your company. This month, I’ll focus on the first three stages in that process:

  1.  Agency submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (typically due September 15)
  2. Submission of the President’s Budget to Congress (at the beginning of each congressional session, typically in January)
  3. Agency testimony to Congress

Because agency submissions are due from the agencies to OMB in mid-September, the real work on budgets begins shortly after submission of the administration’s budget. This submission occurs early in the calendar year, for the fiscal year beginning the next October. OMB conducts its own mid-year planning and analysis, in its Spring Planning Review. This is largely internal to the Office, but the Office may solicit inputs from some agencies. The point here is that, by late summer, the budget is largely determined at the macro level, and any new programs, or unanticipated increases in existing programs, will probably have to come out of other programs to remain within the planning guidance, again at a macro level. Agency submission due on September 15, are in accordance with format of the (dreaded!) OMB Circular A-11, and consistent with the guidance letters from OMB to the agencies.

Between September 15, and the formal transmission of the President’s Budget early in the calendar year, there is only limited opportunity for individual companies to influence the negotiations that invariably take place. In fact, there are strict prohibitions on OMB staff to communicate with outsiders at this time. On the other hand, there is less sensitivity to accepting inputs from individual companies in the March – June period, so this is the time to, very carefully, provide white papers and other technical and programmatic inputs to OMB staff and to agency personnel.

Once the President’s Budget has gone to Congress, and depending on the specific agencies, it is permissible to at least offer program justification to the agencies’ personnel. Again, very carefully, your contributions (featuring your own preferred technical and management solutions) can become part of the supporting materials for the agencies testimony to Congress.

Next month, I’ll cover the next few steps in the process.