Domestic Discretionary Funding Levels for 2006 through 2010, Detailed Data

By Ruth Carlitz

Revised March 7, 2005

Related Areas of Research

The attached spreadsheet serves as the basis for the CBPP analysis “Unpublished Administration Budget Documents Show Domestic Cuts Would Significantly Reduce Funding for Most Public Services.” The spreadsheets posted here give the backup data for our calculations of policy changes in discretionary funding by various program areas for government programs. While the Administration did not publish its discretionary funding path by program area beyond the year 2006, it was possible to derive this information from published tables and computer runs from the Office of Management and Budget.

Specifically, we tabulated this information for the following The federal budget is divided into 20 categories of programs. First, the information was tabulated by what is technically referred to as budget, or “functions,” which represent major program areas. The federal budget includes 20 functional categories, such as “health” or “income security.” Each function, in turn, is divided into a handful of sub-categories, or “sub-functions.”[1] We were able to derive the path of Administration funding for this level of program aggregation as well.

The worksheet consists of six pages. In order, they are:

  • Totals. This page lists total funding, or “budget authority” (BA) for every function and subfunction in the budget for the years 2004-2010. These figures are published in their entirety in Table 5.1 of the Historical Tables in the President’s budget.[2] As with all pages in this spreadsheet, the dollar amounts listed here are in millions.
  • Mandatory. The budget authority, or funding, is divided into two funding streams — mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory BA involves funds controlled by permanent laws and includes funds that are required to be paid to recipients that meet eligibility requirement established by existing law. Mandatory BA levels through 2010 were provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in a computer run that the agency gaivesgives to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). CBO, in turn, distributed this to the congressional budget committees. This computer run, though not published in the President’s budget, is a public document.
  • Proposed Discretionary. Discretionary BA involves funds provided in annual appropriation acts or authorizing legislation. The Administration did not provide its levels for discretionary BA by function and subfunction after 2006 in any documents made public. However, since total BA is just the sum of mandatory and discretionary BA, it was possible to calculate out the discretionary levels by subtracting the mandatory levels from the totals. The resulting discretionary levels are listed in this spreadsheet.
  • Baseline Discretionary. The policy changes inherent in the President’s budget can be obtained by comparing its levels of discretionary BA with a “baseline.” The baseline discretionary BA levels used by the Administration were provided in another computer run that OMB gave to CBO. In general, the baseline takes current funding levels and then adjusts for inflation and certain other technical factors to show what the funding levels would be if no changes in policy were made.
  • Dollar Change. This page shows the dollar difference between the Administration’s levels of discretionary BA and the baseline for the years 2006-2010. A positive number indicates that the Administration’s budget would increase funding for a certain area, relative to the baseline. A negative number indicates that the Administration’s budget would decrease funding.
  • Percentage Change. The final page shows the percentage change in funding proposed in the President’s budget for each function and subfunction for the years 2006-2010, relative to the baseline. The numbers quoted in “Unpublished Administration Budget Documents Show Domestic Cuts Would Significantly Reduce Funding for Most Public Services” primarily come from this page and the previous “Deltas” page.

The following example illustrates how to use these spreadsheetss. Suppose we are interested in the amount of funding the President’s budget includes for funding higher education programs in 2010. Funding for these programs can be found in Subfunction 502, which resides in Function 500, “Education, training, employment, and social services.”

First, we can see by looking at the “Totals” page that the budget projects $21.501 billion in total BA for Subfunction 502 in 2010. The “Mandatory” page for Subfunction 502 shows that of this $21.501 billion, $4.626 billion is mandatory BA (see “Mandatory” page for Subfunction 502). The remaining $16.875 billion represents discretionary BA ($21.501 billion minus $4.626 billion). This figure is shown on the “Proposed Discretionary” page.

In order to calculate the change in discretionary funding, we must compare this $16.875 billion with the baseline amount for this subfunction, which is $18.780 billion (see “Baseline Discretionary” page). The change is thus $16.875 billion minus $18.780 billion, or a cut of $1.905 billion; this value is given in the “Dollar Change” page for Subfunction 502. In order to calculate the percentage change, we take the change in dollars and divide it by the baseline amount. This calculation (-$1.905 billion divided by $18.780 billion) yields a reduction of 10.1 percent in 2010, as is shown on the “Percent Change” page for Subfunction 502.

The Use of the OMB Baseline for Housing and Community Development Programs

As noted, all the cuts in these tables are measured against the OMB baseline. We employed this approach throughout to provide a sense of what the cuts would be, according to their “official” measurement. In the case of a few subfunctions, however, the use of the OMB baseline does not provide the clearest picture of the true extent of the funding changes. (These subfunctions are starred in the accompanying spreadsheets).

For housing assistance (Subfunction 604), the OMB baseline is artificially low, and therefore cuts to housing programs are significantly understated in the accompanying spreadsheets. In a separate analysis, see “OMB Baseline Assumptions Lead to Understatement of Cuts to Housing Assistance,” we find that after making the necessary adjustments to the baseline, housing assistance programs in Subfunction 604 would be cut by 19.3 percent in 2010, rather than 10.1 percent, as the tables currently show.

In another instance, the President’s budget consolidated a number of community development programs into a single account. These programs were previously located in a number of accounts across three subfunctions — Subfunction 451, “Community development;” Subfunction 452, “Area and regional development;” and Subfunction 506, “Social Services.” These programs are now all located in Subfunction 452. Thus, the projected cuts to Subfunctions 451 and 506 are overstated, whereas the projected increase in Subfunction 452 should actually be a cut.

End Notes:

[1] For example, the “health” function includes the following subfunctions: health care services, health research and training, and consumer and occupational health and safety. The complete list of programs contained in each function and subfunction is available in the budget itself in Table 27-1 in the Analytical Perspectives.

[2] See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/sheets/hist05z1.xls

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