U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans
The Federal Budget Process and Its Implementation in the Department of Education


Illustrative Calendar of Steps Followed in the Department of Education Budgeting Process—FY 2006

The following sample budget calendar traces fiscal year 2006 from its initial planning stages to its conclusion. The timeframes in this calendar may serve to clarify the progression of the budget process. In this context, fiscal year 2006 is treated as an average year, although the usual process may not be what was or is actually followed.

Calendar Date Action Explanation
Spring 2004 1. Allowance letter issued by OMB to Department. Following transmittal to the Congress of the FY 2005 President's proposals, OMB specifies budget authority and outlay ceilings for FY 2006 and the outyears (FY 2007-2015). This sets the stage for a typical budget formulation process which has similar elements each year.
May 2004 2. The Budget Service begins to develop FY 2006 budget and legislative recommendations. Assistant Secretaries are asked to submit their budget and legislative priorities for FY 2006.
June 2004 3. The Deputy Secretary submits preliminary FY 2006 budget recommendations and the priorities of the Assistant Secretaries to the Secretary. Secretary makes preliminary decisions on new initiatives and total dollar levels. Requests issue papers as appropriate.
July 2004 4. The Budget Service works on the Mid-Session Review of the President's FY 2005 budget. Final Mid-Session Review, released by OMB in July, results in revised ED budget authority and outlay ceilings for FY 2005-2014, affecting FY 2006 budget development.
5. The Budget Service develops issue papers and the Deputy Secretary submits final FY 2006 budget recommendations to the Secretary, along with the Assistant Secretaries' recommendations. Formal briefing sessions are held for the Secretary, involving the Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretaries, and other senior staff officers. The Secretary makes final decisions.
August 2004 6. The Budget Service prepares FY 2006 budget submission to OMB. Budget submission includes detailed justifications, budget authority and outlay estimates for FY 2004-2015.
September 2004 7. FY 2006 budget request submitted to OMB ED submits budget request to OMB in early September, along with a transmittal letter from the Secretary covering highlights and major issues.
October 2004 8. ED responds to detailed questions concerning FY 2006 budget submission. OMB staff request answers to analytic questions to enable them to make recommendations to the Director of OMB.
9. ED revises
FY 2005/2006-2015 budget request to OMB.
Purpose of revisions is to take into account congressional action on the FY 2005 appropriation. Enactment of significant program legislation might also prompt ED to reconsider the request to OMB.
November 2004 10. Actual FY 2004 obligations and expenditures certified. Treasury Annual Report issued. Data serve as basis for 2005 and 2006 estimates in the President's 2006 budget.
November - December 2004 11. Baseline budget prepared. Baseline budget estimates the costs, adjusted for inflation and other uncontrollable increases, of continuing current year (FY 2005) policies and programs in the budget year.
12. OMB Passback. OMB apprises agencies of its decisions on the FY 2006 budget. The OMB passback contains not only funding decisions, but program policy changes, legislative direction, and personnel ceilings.
13. Appeals of OMB Passback. Although the OMB passback represents final decisions, agencies can appeal levels to the budget examiners, the Director, or the President, depending on the nature of the issue.
December 2004 - January 2005 14. Preparation of President's FY 2006 budget materials. ED prepares a variety of materials to explain and justify budget as part of the presentation stage of the budget process. These include materials for the printed President's budget, detailed justifications for the Congress, and an information packet for the public.
February 2005 15. Submission of FY 2006 budget to Congress. President's request for FY 2006 is presented to Congress and the public. By law, this must be done each year after the first Monday in January but not after the first Monday in February.
16. CBO reports on fiscal policy and budget priorities. The Congressional Budget Office submits (February 15) its report on the President's FY 2006 budget and budget alternatives to the Budget Committees. The report suggests different ways of directing spending to achieve varying impacts.
17. Committees submit views and estimates to Budget Committees. The process established by the Congressional Budget Act, and modified by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and the Budget Enforcement Act, requires authorizing committees to report estimates of funding levels for programs under their jurisdiction to the Budget committees within 6 weeks of the President's budget transmittal. ED witnesses frequently are asked to testify in hearings held by the authorizing and Budget committees.
February-March 2005 18. House appropriations hearings. House appropriations subcommittees hold hearings on FY 2006 request and FY 2005 revisions (supplementals or recissions), if any are proposed.
March-April 2005 19. Senate appropriations hearings. Senate appropriation subcommittees hear testimony on FY 2006 request and FY 2005 revisions.
April 2005 20. Senate Budget Committee reports FY 2006 concurrent budget resolution. April 1—Senate Budget Committee reports resolution, which contains targets for total levels of budget authority and outlays, and provides reconciliation instructions to committees on how to achieve those targets. Accompanying report gives general breakdown for budget functions; e.g., education and training; and discusses discrepancies among levels suggested by other committees.
21. Congress completes action on FY 2006 concurrent budget resolution. April 15—Includes basis for allocating BA and outlay targets for appropriations action. Budget Committees in each House inform appropriations subcommittees of amounts contained in totals for activities in subcommittees' jurisdictions. House and Senate totals must be equal, but amounts for individual functions may differ. The allocation process dividing discretionary totals among the appropriations subcommittees is established in section 302(b) of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, as amended; consequently the allocations are commonly known as "302(b)'s." These allocations must precede floor consideration of appropriations legislation.
May 2005 22. New authorizing legislation must be reported. Committees must report any legislation that would authorize new budget authority by May 15. ED staff and OMB will have been working on President's legislative proposals so that the proposals associated with the February budget can be sent to Congress prior to Committee action.
June 2005 23. House appropriations mark-up and floor action on FY 2006. Appropriations action begins in the House, which may begin consideration of appropriations bills May 15 even if a concurrent resolution has not yet passed. The full House Committee on Appropriations marks up the subcommittee version of the bill. Subsequently, the full House votes on the bill and amends it on the floor if necessary. Reports sent to the floor along with the bill explain levels and often provide policy guidance. The House Committee must report its last regular appropriations bill by June 10. Floor action is supposed to be finished by June 30.
24. June 15—Congress completes action on reconciliation bill. While this date is contained in the law, final action can occur any time. A reconciliation bill makes the changes in the laws governing taxes, mandatory, and entitlement spending that would be necessary to carry out assumptions made in the Concurrent Budget Resolution. In the Department of Education, these changes most often involve student loan programs, which are entitlements.
July 2005 25. Mid-Session Review of the President's FY 2006 budget. The President submits to Congress (July 15) revised estimates of his FY 2006 baseline budget and proposals based on new economic assumptions. Estimates cover FY 2005-2015, and determine agency ceilings for development of the FY 2007 budget.
26. Senate appropriations mark-up and floor action on FY 2006. The full Senate Committee on Appropriations marks up the subcommittee bill. Often, the Administration formally appeals the House level to the Senate. As in the House, an explanatory report accompanies the Senate bill to the floor where the full Senate may amend the bill before passing it.
August-September 2005 27. Conference action on the FY 2006 appropriations bill. This could occur any time after passage by the Senate, in August or September. Representatives of the two committees meet in conference to compromise on the differing provisions of the FY 2006 House and Senate bills.
28. FY 2006 appropriations bills are enacted. A conference bill is reported to House and Senate floors which usually accept Conference advice.
29. Continuing resolution. If no appropriation has been passed by September 30, Congress must enact a continuing resolution providing temporary funding for Federal programs that require annual appropriations. Continuing resolutions have been required for all but 3 of the last 21 fiscal years.
October 2005 30. Start of FY 2006. Federal fiscal year runs from October 1, 2005, through September 30, 2006. Amounts appropriated on a forward-funded basis for large State grant programs become available on July 1, 2006, for school year 2006-2007. Most other FY 2006 funds are apportioned by OMB and allotted by ED at the beginning of the fiscal year, or as needed for obligations based on operating plans. This budget execution stage relies heavily on the policies and dollar levels proposed by the President and approved by Congress in justifications, bills, and various reports.
September 2006 31. FY 2006 ends September 30.

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