Starting from Scratch: Alice Rivlin and the Congressional Budget Office (A)


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  • Product Description

    When Alice Rivlin became the first director of the Congressional Budget Office in February 1975, she found herself in charge of a new agency with no staff, no permanent offices, a very sketchy mandate from Congress as to its duties and responsibilities, and few allies on Capitol Hill. The case traces the early history of the CBO, from Rivlin's appointment to the agency's first appearance before the House Appropriations Committee the following year. The 1974 Budget Act which created CBO required the agency to provide cost estimates on bills, economic forecasts, and an annual budget report to Congress. Rivlin envisioned an agency that would also provide detailed policy analysis to Congress, but her view proved controversial on the Hill. In addition to her other roles as director, Rivlin spent considerable amounts of her time articulating and defending this vision during her first year. 

    Learning Objective:
    The case can be used to assess Rivlin's leadership style and management strategy during the first year of her tenure at CBO. It also illustrates the difficulties of starting a new operation under legislative supervision: Congress gave Rivlin little or no guidance, yet was quick to attack her when she acted on her own initiative.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1988
    Teaching Plan: Available with Educator Access
    HKS Case Number: 872.0
    Case Author: Nancy Kates
    Faculty Lead: Susan Irving and James Verdier
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 15
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: Older than 2000
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
  • Warranty Information

    /review/872.0.EducatorCopy.pdf, /teachingplan/872_2.pdf