THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
The American Foreign Service Association closely follows the
discussions within the administration that help shape each
year’s federal budget request and the subsequent budget
process on Capitol Hill.
We regularly speak to members of Congress about the
importance of maintaining a strong and continuous opera-
tions resource base to enable the Foreign Service to effec-
tively fulfill its mission, even as U.S. foreign policy priorities
shift over time.
We aim to keep our members informed of the latest
developments and encourage proactive engagement with
elected officials and their staffs.
This article is the first of several that AFSAwill present on
the FY 2017 federal budget proceedings now getting under-
way.We include a primer on the process that highlights the
critical junctures of which our members should be aware
.On Feb. 9, President Barack Obama submitted his Fiscal Year 2017 budget request to Congress. Here are a few ite
that AFSA is tracking.
Foreign Affairs Agencies’ Operating Expenses:
budget includes $5 billion for Diplomatic and Consular
Programs—personnel, infrastructure support and operat-
ing costs—representing a 6-percent increase over current
levels. USAID’s operating expenses are set at $1.4 billion—a
9.5-percent increase. The International Trade Administra-
tion is listed at $521 million—a 10.5-percent increase; the
Foreign Agricultural Service is at $2,224 million—a 9.9-per-
cent decrease; and the Broadcasting Board of Governors is
at $777.8 million—a 10.3-percent increase.
Security for Diplomatic and Development Facilities:
The budget request contains $135 million for security pro-
grams and overseas diplomatic and development facili-
ties—a 6.1-percent increase over current levels. This figure
includes funding for embassy security, construction and
maintenance; Diplomatic Security Bureau operations; and
ongoing repair and safety of overseas real property assets.
Paid Parental Leave:
The budget plan calls for six weeks
of paid parental leave for federal employees on the birth,
adoption or foster placement of a child. The proposal would
make explicit the right of new parents to use sick leave to
care for a new child.
In response to last year’s data breaches
at the Office of Personnel Management, the budget request
includes $37 million to continue upgrading OPM’s com-
puter systems. Part of a new cybersecurity action plan,
AFSA ON THE HILL
President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget Request
Background: The Federal Budget Process
In 1921, the U.S. Congress passed the Budget and Account-
ing Act requiring the president of the United States to submit
a budget for consideration by the Congress. Although the
president’s budget proposal is not law, it provides a roadmap for
executive branch policy priorities. Similarly, the reaction of the
Congress to the president’s proposal has substantial implica-
tions for the work of the Foreign Service.
Eight Months Prior: Agency Budget Requests
The budget process is labor-intensive, beginning each spring
with discussions at the agency level. Each agency must submit
a request to the Office of Management and Budget in late
summer or early fall. OMB then reviews, modifies and sends
the requests back to the agencies by November. In December,
agencies make their final appeals to OMB, and in January OMB
resolves appeals and proceeds to assemble the president’s
budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.
The Government Accountability Office, Congressional
Budget Office and U.S. Department of Treasury play important
roles in providing data and analysis that help shape and identify
priorities that make it into the request.
February-March: The President’s Budget Request
The president traditionally presents the budget request to
Congress in early February. The document offers the presi-
dent’s major program proposals and analysis of historical
budgetary trends. The administration must also release a “Mid-
Session Review” on July 15 that takes into account changes in
the overall budget scenario due to congressional action.
May: Concurrent Budget Resolution
Once the president has put his administration’s budget
proposal on the table, the House and Senate Budget Commit-
tees focus on drafting, marking-up, voting and reporting their
respective budget resolutions with the aim of eventually pass-
ing a concurrent budget resolution (i.e., Congress’s own budget
plan). The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control
Act of 1974, which established the budget process as we know
it, requires final adoption of the concurrent budget resolution to
be completed by April 15—a deadline that often goes unmet.
The budget resolution’s main purpose is to develop a
framework—including aggregate budget levels and discre-
tionary spending limits—within which appropriations commit-