Budget and Accounting Act of 1921
Panel 1: The History of the 1921 and 1974 Budget Acts
The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (Pub.L. 67-13, 42 Stat. 20–27) required for the first time that the president submit to Congress each year a budget for the entire federal government. Before enactment of this law in 1921, there was no annual centralized budgeting in the executive branch. Federal government agencies usually sent budget requests independently to congressional committees with no coordination of the various requests in formulating the Federal Government’s budget.
The president is free to submit the budget in the form and detail he deems appropriate, but certain information is required. In addition, the estimates of the legislative and judicial branches must be incorporated in his budget, as submitted by those branches, without change. Congress has amended the requirements many times and has codified them as Chapter 11, Title 31, U.S. Code.
The 1921 Budget and Accounting Act also established the Bureau of the Budget. General Charles G. Dawes, vice president during President Calvin Coolidge’s second term, was the first director of the Bureau of the Budget, under President Harding. Brigadier General Herbert M. Lord was the Bureau of the Budget’s second director, and the single person with whom President Coolidge met most often and for the longest blocks of time during his time in office. Coming to the presidency, as he did, after the initial settling into place of the budget control system during Harding’s administration, Coolidge was really the first chief executive who had the power to shape the finances of federal agencies and departments. With the Bureau of the Budget operating efficiently, he had both complete information on the fiscal condition of the executive agencies and the power to approve or deny their appropriation requests and expenditures.
The Bureau of the Budget is now called the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and headed by a director subject to Senate confirmation, to assist the president in formulating the budget, in presenting it to Congress, and in monitoring the execution of the enacted budget by agencies. In addition, the 1921 act established the General Accounting Office, later renamed the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional agency, headed by the comptroller general, to audit and evaluate federal programs and perform other budgetary duties.
Also see Confirmation; Executive Branch; Government Accountability Office (GAO); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); President’s Budget; § 7.10 Key Budget Process Laws, § 7.40, Presidential Budget Process, in Congressional Deskbook; The Federal Budget Process.
- Federal Budget Links and Research Tools – TheCapitol.Net
- Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 – Wikipedia
- “The Congressional Budget Process: A Brief Overview,” CRS Report RS20095 (12-page PDF)
- “Overview of the Executive Budget Process,” CRS Report RS20175 (3-page PDF)
- “Federal Budget Process Reform: Analysis of Five Reform Issues,” CRS Report RL31478 (42-page PDF)
- “The Role of the Office of Management and Budget in Budget Development,” CRS Report RS20167 (5-page PDF)
- “The Role of the President in Budget Development,” CRS Report RS20179 (5-page PDF)
- “The Role of Departments and Agencies in Budget Development,” CRS Report RS20198 (5-page PDF)
- “The Mid-Session Review of the President’s Budget: Timing Issues,” CRS Report RL32509 (19-page PDF)
- “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” CRS Report RL31967 (48-page PDF)
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Custom, On-Site Training
- Congressional Operations Poster, with Federal Budget Process Flowchart
- Federal Budgeting, a Five-Course series on CD
- Congress, the Legislative Process, and the Fundamentals of Lawmaking Series, a Nine-Course series on CD
The Federal Budget Process 2E
Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates
CongressionalGlossary.com, from TheCapitol.Net
For more than 40 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been teaching professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs about the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.
Our on-site training, publications, and audio courses include congressional operations, legislative and budget process, communication and advocacy, media and public relations, testifying before Congress, research skills, legislative drafting, critical thinking and writing, and more.
TheCapitol.Net is on the GSA Schedule, 874-4, for custom on-site training. GSA Contract GS02F0192X
TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan small business.
Teaching how Washington and Congress work ™