Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Jeffrey Zients sent a memo to department and agency heads late Friday, May 18 providing guidance on the preparation of the FY 2014 budget. The memo focuses squarely on controlling spending in light of the constraints set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and asks agencies to cut lower-priority spending to allow for continued investment in “areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.” The guidance memo directs agencies to cut their bottom-line FY 2014 requests by 5 percent below the net discretionary spending levels appropriated for FY 2013. The memo also directs agencies to exclude the across-the-board sequestration from their requests.
In a second appended memo, OMB spotlights the importance of evidence for evaluation, cost-benefit analysis, budgeting, and policymaking. The memo asks agencies to demonstrate such approaches in their requests, and says there will be some funding available for initiatives that seek improved use of evidence or expanded evaluative capacity, including in the area of grant-making. The memo also highlights the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Science of Science Policy working group as one such entity seeking to apply evidence-based principles.