OMBlog

  • Another Look at IMAC

    Yesterday, a group of some of the most distinguished health economists in the country sent a letter to the President and Congress in support of the Administration’s proposal for the establishment of an independent board of doctors and health experts to guide Medicare policy. This Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) would make recommendations on Medicare reimbursement policy and other reforms – playing a critical role in allowing health care policy to adjust flexibly to a dynamic health care market, thereby helping contain costs and improve quality over time.

  • Werfel Gets the Nod

    Today, I am proud to announce that the President will nominate Danny Werfel to be the new Controller of OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM). Danny is currently Deputy Controller and in this capacity has served as Acting Controller during this critically important transition. His leadership in implementing the Recovery Act is just one example of his stellar work over many years – work that led the Administration to recognize what those who have worked with him have known for years: Danny’s an extraordinarily able public servant.

  • Meeting the $100 Million Savings Challenge

    Getting the most from our taxpayer dollars requires ongoing attention and effort. That’s why at the President’s first Cabinet meeting on April 20, he called on Cabinet members to identify at least $100 million in collective cuts to their administrative budgets, separate and apart from those identified in FY 2010 Budget. In a memo that Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu and I sent to the President, we report that agencies have identified 77 cost-saving measures that meet these criteria – amounting to $243 million in savings through 2010 and $265 million including savings in the out-years. Of this, about $102 million would be realized in FY 2009, and about $140 million would be saved in FY 2010.

  • Closing Lobbyist Loopholes

    The President believes that a piece of legislation as important as the Recovery Act must be implemented with an unprecedented degree of transparency. That is why, in March, he imposed substantial limits on lobbyists in their communications with the Federal government about the Recovery Act. He also ordered OMB to evaluate agencies’ actual experiences with the restrictions in the first 60 days and then recommend whether any modifications were needed. That review resulted in a decision to tighten the restrictions and, on Friday, OMB updated the formal guidance on Recovery Act communications with lobbyists.

  • CBO and IMAC

    This morning, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed proposals to shift more decision-making out of politics and toward a body like the Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) put forward by the Administration. CBO noted that this type of approach could lead to significant long-term savings in federal spending on health care and that the available evidence implies that a substantial share of spending on health care contributes little, if anything, to the overall health of the nation.

  • Data.gov Surpasses 100,000 Datasets

    Today, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced that the number of datasets on Data.gov has increased from 47 to more than 100,000 – with new sets being added continuously.

  • A New Foundation

    Today, in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, I spoke about economic recovery and rebuilding a path towards sustained and broadly shared prosperity. I emphasized two aspects of the Administration’s economic plan: the passage and implementation of the Recovery Act and the need for health care reform this year.

  • Calendar Clarity

    Our upcoming release of the mid-session review (MSR) in August has sparked some speculation. But any speculation about timing games ignores recent history.

  • IMAC, UBend

    Game-changers are appropriately on people’s minds as the work on health care continues on Capitol Hill. By now, close readers of the blog know that the Administration wants to make health care reform deficit neutral and bend the health care cost growth curve down in years to come. Both are critical to our fiscal future, and the latter is especially important in order to put the country on a more sustainable fiscal path.

  • Airing Differences

    Today, the Administration sent a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010. It emphasizes the President’s commitment to spend taxpayer dollars on what is needed to keep our country safe and secure — and not on programs that are unnecessary or ineffective. To that end, the President made clear that he would veto any bill that supports acquiring more F-22 fighter aircraft beyond the 187 already funded by Congress.

  • America’s Children

    I have written before about the economic and social imperative of expanding access to education and improving the quality of health care while slowing cost growth. Today, a new report, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009” was issued by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Unfortunately, this report makes clear that more work remains to be done when it comes to children’s well-being in the areas of health care, economic circumstances, and family and social environment.

  • The Road to Recovery…

    Today on Capitol Hill, OMB Deputy Director Rob Nabors testified in front of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee about the Recovery Act. A major focus at the hearing was a report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the non-partisan, independent government watchdog. GAO found that Recovery Act spending was ahead of schedule and was helping to mitigate the economic downturn.

  • This is IT

    Yesterday, the federal "IT Dashboard" went online — a new, one-stop clearinghouse of information that allows anyone with a web browser to track federal IT initiatives and hold the government accountable for progress and results.

  • A Clean Slate

    As the activity around health care reform heats up, I’m participating in a Q&A with John Dickerson at Slate.com. I hope our back and forth is helpful to OMBlog readers and the general public in understanding this important topic and the Administration’s thinking on it.

  • Welcome to OMB, Jeff!

    The OMB team gained another important member today as the Senate confirmed Jeff Zients to be the Deputy Director for Management (DDM). The President’s also asked Jeff to serve as the Administration’s Chief Performance Officer (CPO). I’ve blogged about Jeff before, so I won’t go through his resume again. But suffice it to say, he’s a proven leader who has an impressive record of success everywhere he’s worked. And now, with the Senate’s approval, he’s ready to get to bring his talents to public service.

  • Rulemaking 2.0

    Some of you may be following the public dialogue prompted by President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, which was kicked off on May 21st. Many of the topics discussed have touched on important OMB responsibilities, including oversight of the Federal regulatory process.

  • CBO Points the Way

    Reforms that meet long-term objectives but are not scored as delivering immediate savings are often viewed with an understandable amount of uncertainty and even suspicion. That’s why it was very helpful for CBO to release a letter yesterday afternoon walking through not only some of the challenges of financing major health legislation but also the pathways to a higher-quality, lower-cost health care system over time — the proposals that could help to "bend the curve" on cost growth over the long term. In a section entitled "Policy Options that Could Produce Budgetary Savings in the Long Run," the CBO letter highlights a number of options, nearly all of which were included in the President’s Budget or have been subsequently included as part of his health reform package, that hold promise for reducing costs over the long term.

  • Filed on Fleet Street

    Readers of this blog are familiar with my argument: Our fiscal future is so dominated by health care that if we can slow the rate of cost growth by just 15 basis points a year (0.15 percentage points), the savings for Medicare and Medicaid would equal the impact from eliminating Social Security’s entire 75-year shortfall.

  • Weekend Reading

    If you’re not outside enjoying the nice summer weekend and, like me, you are a health care policy wonk, there are a few important developments to be following.

  • Debating Health Care

    Beginning last week with posts by two bloggers I read regularly and then today with a lengthy editorial in the Wall Street Journal and a blog post by the always provocative Richard Posner, observers are raising some tough and direct questions about health care reform. Some of the pieces were skeptical – and even critical – of our plans. I welcome this debate, and hope to use this blog as a way to foster a dialogue on this vital topic.