Behind the scenes with the Office of Management and Budget

By Kaysey England, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

During our Sustainable Food Systems graduate program food policy immersion experience in the spring of 2023, we had the opportunity to learn more about the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We were joined by Ruth Saunders, Agriculture Branch Chief, and Nora Stein, Program Examiner, to learn of the critical role OMB plays in the United States government.

Purpose and Importance

Like many, I had never heard of the Office of Management and Budget before, however, after learning more about OMB, I have gained a new sense of appreciation for the work they complete on a daily basis. OMB is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President and works with the sitting president to successfully implement their vision while adhering to budget and regulatory requirements. OMB is made up of predominantly career staff that work to effectively manage taxpayer money regardless of political changes in the White House. The Office advises on strategic policy and budget recommendations to ensure government initiatives are financially viable. In their presentation, they showed us summary tables of the President’s budget book showcasing the allocation and use of billions of dollars of funding to the penny.

Budget Outlook on New Programs

Ruth and Nora shared with us the importance of metrics in developing programs and the allocation of funding. Metrics are increasingly vital as a guide for managing local funding in which city or county government may not be as equipped to spend the money. Without this data, government spending may not be as effective in its implementation. For example, OMB analyzed various data in its strategic determination to assist the Office of the President in the allocation of funds to support climate-smart agriculture initiatives in the Inflation Reduction Act under the current Biden Administration.

Working for American Taxpayers

While OMB may be operating behind the scenes, the Office is always looking for ways to prioritize effective programs that are financially sound and work in the best interests of American taxpayers. Nora mentioned to us one of her personal achievements in finding approximately $2.5 billion in savings in the 2018 Farm Bill. It was nice to see that our taxpayer money is more than just a number and every dollar is being used to effectively contribute to meaningful programs aimed to improve the lives of the American people. I was grateful to hear from these two dedicated government individuals who have contributed their time and energy to serving Americans across the nation.

This blog is part of a series from the May 2023 Washington D.C. Immersive component of the Swette Center graduate programs. Students met with federal food and agriculture focused officials at USDA, the White House, and Congress alongside many other important influencers of policy in industry and non-profits.