Early Friday morning, members of the APPAM Community gathered at the Rossi Awards Breakfast to honor Alice Rivlin Ph.D., Rudolph Penner, Ph.D., and Robert Reischauer, Ph.D., - all seminal members of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The Rossi Award is presented to individuals who have contributed to the theory or practice of program evaluation. The award panel was structured in a question and answer format. The awardees were asked about their expectations, experiences, and predictions for the future of the Congressional Budget Office.
Rivlin, Penner, and Reischauer all shared invaluable wisdom garnered from their years of experience as early members of the Congressional Budget Office. The Congressional Budget Office was created to be a nonpartisan support to congress. The responsibility of the Congressional Budget Office is to provide congress with budget and economic information as it pertains to federally funded programs. Unsurprisingly, when asked about the challenges of working in the Budget Office and the politics of Washington, the awardees noted that political tension and interpersonal politics impacted their work. However, Rivlin noted the unanticipated tensions of government bodies- House versus the Senate and Congress as adversarial to the president that she experienced during her tenure.
When asked about the nonpartisan nature of the CBO the awardees recalled instances where their budgets were rejected or they were faced with demands they felt they morally could not fulfill. The awardees named this as one of the challenges and responsibilities of their office. It is important to note that members of the CBO are appointed by particular parties. However, the awardees asserted that their work was for all of congress and that they often faced tensions from both sides of the aisle- they asserted this is when they knew they were doing their best work. The espoused the pride they felt in participating in this organization and the opportunity to provide fair and accurate budgets for governmental initiatives.
The awardees last remarks ended with reminders about the importance of valuing bipartisan comprise and to remember that the process isn’t the problem, but that the problem is the problem. When asked about their hopes of the future Penner asserted that he hoped the CBO would remain a small body. While Rivlin, referenced her students and the hope their passion provides her.
Again, congratulations to Rivlin, Penner, and Reischauer. We thank you for your hard work, dedication, and commitment to the policy community.