Senator Johnny Isakson held a conference call this afternoon with several bloggers. Since it’s been said that I too am a blogger, the Isakson folks were kind enough to invite me to listen in.
The main topic of the call was to discuss the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act which has become near and dear to the Senator’s heart. In fact Isakson will be speaking to the Heritage Foundation about the proposal on Thursday.
Biennial budgeting, as the name implies, would change the appropriations process from an annual to a two-year process. The President would submit a two-year budget to the Congress, who would adopt a two-year budget and if necessary a reconciliation bill.
Georgia has such a process currently.
An important feature of biennial budgeting is the increased oversight by the Legislature which could occur in the second year of the budget:
* Second Year – Authorization Legislation and Enhanced Oversight
o Devotes the second session of a Congress to consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs. Provides a majority point of order against consideration of authorization and revenue legislation that covers less than two years.
o Enhances oversight by incorporating features of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) in the second year of the biennium by requiring:
+ The General Accounting Office (GAO) to give priority to requests for audits and evaluation of programs and activities during the second year of the biennium;
+ Agencies to submit to the authorizing committees at the beginning of the second session of a Congress proposed legislative changes that are needed or will assist agencies’ efforts to meet their GPRA mission statements, strategic plans and performance goals; and
+ Authorizing committees to submit in their views and estimates letters to the Budget Committee their comments on agencies’ mission statements, strategic plans, performance plans, and their actual performance.
Congress spending more time of oversight and less time stuffing appropriations with pork would certainly be a welcome change. Look for more on this proposal from Senator Isakson over the next few days.
You can also read the CBO’s 1988 analysis of biennial budgeting by clicking here.