Professor Howell E. Jackson

Briefing Papers on Federal Budget Policy

Prepared by Harvard Law School Students
Under the Supervision of Professor Howell E. Jackson
(September 2008)

The following briefing papers were prepared by students at Harvard Law School enrolled in Professor Howell E. Jackson’s seminar on Federal Budget Policy. The papers are designed to introduce the academic community to a range of legal issues related to federal budget policy. As with any work prepared by student research assistants, these briefing papers should be regarded as preliminary efforts: overviews of basic budgetary concepts with reviews of relevant academic literature and, where applicable, judicial decisions. As a group, the papers pull together a good deal of useful information and canvas recent academic writing on a series of important issues of federal and state budget policy. Many of the materials cited in the papers are available on-line and links are generally included in footnotes.

The forty briefing papers are divided into seven basic groups. The largest, dealing with congressional budget policy, includes sixteen papers. Other sets of papers address the capacity of the federal executive to influence spending decisions and the role of the judiciary in controlling federal spending. A number of papers focus on accrual accounting in the federal budget, economic issues underlying budget policy, and alternative perspectives on the federal budget. A final group of papers discusses budget procedures in other jurisdictions.

The briefing papers assume a basic understanding of the federal budget process. For those who are new to the field or some aspects thereof, a good book-length primer is Allen Schick, The Federal Budget (2007). For a shorter introduction, see William Dauster, "The Congressional Budget Process," in Fiscal Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Budget Policy (2008).

For comments on these papers or suggestions for future lines of research, please contact Professor Howell Jackson at

I. Congressional Budget Procedures

A. Congressional Budget Procedures and Congressional Budget Practice

David Burd & Brad Shron, "Analysis & Critique of Specialized Rules: Discretionary Caps, Spending Targets, and Committee Allocations" (Updated March 9, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 1)
Ellen Bradford & Matthew Scogin, "PAYGO Rules and Sequestration Procedures" (Updated March 31, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 2)
Jared Shirk & Francis Shen, "The Role of Estimation in Budget Procedures: Baselines" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 4)
Adam Fletcher & Trenton Hamilton, "Scoring and Revenue Estimation" (Updated March 16, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 5)
Mark Champoux & Dan Sullivan, “Authorizations and Appropriations: A Distinction Without Difference?” (May 10, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 15)
Robert Porter & Sam Walsh, “Earmarks in the Federal Budget Process” (Updated April 1, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 16)
William Fay & Michelle Rogers, "Appropriations for Mandatory Expenditures" (Updated March 30, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 17)
Nooree Lee, “Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, Reconsidered” (April 29, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 34)

Derek Lindblom, “The Budget Reconciliation Process” (May 11, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 35)
Avery Day, “Analysis of Congressional Budget Cycles: Fiscal Years 2004 - 2007” (May 11, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 36)
Mona Lewandoski, “The Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003, A Brief Legislative History” (May 6, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 37)
B. The Relationship Between Federal and State Spending

Stacy Anderson & Russell Constantine, "Unfunded Mandates" (April 20, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 7)
Dan Klaff & Adam Lawton, “Conditional Spending and Other Forms of Federal Cost Sharing” (Updated March 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 18)
Allison Quick, “Legal Limits on Conditional Spending including Recent Challenges to No Child Left Behind” (May 2, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 19)

C. Reform Proposals for Congressional Procedures

Laurel Brown & Blake Roberts, "Alternative Procedures Line Item Vetoes and Balanced Budget Amendments" (May 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 3)
Stuart Young & Drew McLelland, “Implementing Biennial Budgeting for the U.S. Congress” (May 6, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 20)

II. The Spending Powers of the Federal Executive

Takeshi Fujitani & Jared Shirck, "Executive Spending Powers: The Capacity to Reprogram, Rescind, and Impound" (May 3, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 8). For additional analysis of reprogramming, see Jared Shirck, "Separation of Powers in an Unconstitutional Context: Congressional-Agency Negotiation of Reprogramming" (June 15, 2006).
Adam Fletcher & Francis Shen, "War & Appropriations" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 9)
Puja Seam & Brad Shron, "Government Shutdowns" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 10)
Ellen Bradford & Russell Constantine, "The Debt Ceiling and Executive Latitude" (Updated January 7, 2009) (Briefing Paper No. 11)

Jeremy Kreisberg & Kelley O'Mara, The 2011 Debt Limit Impasse: Treasury's Actions & The Counterfactual - What Might have Happened if the National Debt Hit the Satutory Limit (September 4, 2012) (Briefing Paper No. 41)

Stacy Anderson & Blake Roberts, "Capacity To Commit in the Absence of Legislation: Takings, Winstar, FTCA, & the Court of Claims"(May 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 12)

Bob Allen & Sarah Miller, “The Constitutionality of Executive Spending Powers” (May 10, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 38)
Brian Callanan & David Weiler, “War Budgeting Strategies: Case Studies of The Gulf War and The Iraq War” (May 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 39)

III. Judicial Power to Control Federal Spending

John Lobato & Jeffrey Theodore, "Federal Sovereign Immunity" (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 21)
Drew McLelland & Sam Walsh, "Litigating Challenges to Federal Spending Decisions: The Role of Standing and Political Question Doctrine" (May 1, 2006)(Briefing Paper No. 33)
Robert Porter, “Contract Claims Against the Federal Government: Sovereign Immunity and Contractual Remedies” (May 2, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 22)
Adam Lawton & Jeffrey Theodore, “Judicial Oversight of Social Security Under the Due Process Clause” (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 23)
Mark Champoux & John Lobato, “The Limited Power of Courts to Order Spending (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 24)

IV. Accrual Accounting in the Federal Budget

Neill Perry & Puja Seam, "Accrual Accounting for Federal Credit Programs: The Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990" (Briefing Paper No. 6)
Hiroyuki Kohyama & Allison Quick, “Accrual Accounting in Federal Budgeting: Retirement Benefits for Government Workers” (May 1, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 25)
Daniel Klaff, “Accrual Accounting in Federal Budgeting: The Case of the PBGC” (April 24, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 26)
Mark Champoux, “Accrual Accounting in New Zealand and Australia: Issues and Solutions (April 29, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 27)

V. Economic Issues in Federal Budgeting

William Fay & Robert Porter, “Optimal Budget Deficits” (May 3, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 28)
Hiroyuki Kohyama, “Selecting Discount Rates for Budgetary Purposes” (May 22, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 29)

VI. Budget Concepts and Their Reform

David Burd & Takeshi Fujitani, "FASAB & The Financial Statements of the United States: Comparing Budget Aggregates to Financial Statements" (May 3, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 13)
Trenton Hamilton & Matthew Scogin, "Broader Budget Aggregates: Proposed Reform Legislation" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 14)
Michelle Rodgers & Dan Sullivan, “Reconsidering the President’s Commission on Budget Concepts of 1967” (May 10, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 30)

VII. Comparative Budget Policy

Christopher Craig & Motfumi Umemura, “Spending caps and debt limits in the EU and Japan” (April 28, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 31)
Stuart Young, “The British Budget Process: A Case Study” (May 3, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 32)
Mark Champoux, “Accrual Accounting in New Zealand and Australia: Issues and Solutions" (April 29, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 27)
Lee Hochbaum & Brent Lanoue, “Foreign Entitlement Reform: Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden” (May 13, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 40)