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Federal Budget: Sources of Information

Understanding the Past

U.S. Treasury Department. Report on Monies For 1800. 1799-12-17. The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress: Series 1: General Correspondence. 1651 to 1827. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

The responsibility for the federal budget and accounting/budgeting practices has changed over time. For much of the history of the U.S., the agency responsible was the Department of the Treasury (see "BIrthplace of Bureaus" below). However, there was no overall, comprehensive budget for the U.S. government. Meaning, there was no overall, central document. The budget process was more piecemeal, with agencies submitting their budget request directly to Congress creating lots of budgets, instead of one single budget. Eventually, there was recognition that this was not the best way to operate, and in 1910 President Taft created a Commission on Economy and Efficiency. Their 1912 report urged the creation of a central budget. But it wasn't until 1921 that the Bureau of the Budget was established as a part of the Department of the Treasury by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (Pub.L. 67–13, 42 Stat. 20, enacted June 10, 1921). Things changed again with Roosevelt's Executive Reorganization Plan of 1939 (see below)when it was moved over to the Executive Office of the President. Nixon's Executive Reorganization Plan of 1970 renamed it the Office of Management and Budget (see below).

The material in this section is intended to assist researchers in gaining a better understanding of U.S. federal budgeting and finance throughout the country's history. It primarily includes legislation, analysis, historical overviews, and textbooks but many of the titles also contain tables of taxes, budget, etc.. A special section devoted to War and National Defense has been included as there are special issues and concerns that are specific to that activity.

Discussion, analysis, insight, and data can also be found in many of the publications produced by the Department of the Treasury or Congress. Some titles by these agencies have been included in the guide but the contents of this guide and this quick list is not a full accounting of the various publications on the U.S. federal budget.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Print Materials Referenced