Prepared by Harvard Law School Students Under the Supervision of Prof. Howell Jackson
Last Updated: April 2021

The following briefing papers were prepared by students at Harvard Law School enrolled in Professor Howell E. Jackson’s seminar on Federal Budget Policy. The papers are designed to introduce the academic community to a range of legal issues related to federal budget policy. As with any work prepared by student research assistants, these briefing papers should be regarded as preliminary efforts: overviews of basic budgetary concepts with reviews of relevant academic literature and, where applicable, judicial decisions. As a group, the papers pull together a good deal of useful information and canvas recent academic writing on a series of important issues of federal and state budget policy. Many of the materials cited in the papers are available on-line and links are generally included in footnotes.

The sixty-four briefing papers are divided into seven basic groups. The largest, dealing with congressional budget policy, includes twenty-eight papers. Other sets of papers address the capacity of the federal executive to influence spending decisions and the role of the judiciary in controlling federal spending. A number of papers focus on accrual accounting in the federal budget, economic issues underlying budget policy, and alternative perspectives on the federal budget. A final group of papers discusses budget procedures in other jurisdictions.

The briefing papers assume a basic understanding of the federal budget process. For those who are new to the field or some aspects thereof, a good book-length primer is Allen Schick, The Federal Budget (2007). For a shorter introduction, see William Dauster, "The Congressional Budget Process," in Fiscal Challenges: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Budget Policy (2008).

For comments on these papers or suggestions for future lines of research, please contact Professor Howell Jackson at


I. Congressional Budget Procedures

A. Congressional Budget Procedures and Congressional Budget Practice

David Burd & Brad Shron, "Analysis & Critique of Specialized Rules: Discretionary Caps, Spending Targets, and Committee Allocations" (Updated March 9, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 1)

Ellen Bradford & Matthew Scogin, "PAYGO Rules and Sequestration Procedures" (Updated March 31, 2008)
(Briefing Paper No. 2)

Jared Shirck & Francis Shen, "The Role of Estimation in Budget Procedures: Baselines" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 4)

Adam Fletcher & Trenton Hamilton, "Scoring and Revenue Estimation" (Updated March 16, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 5)

Mark Champoux & Dan Sullivan, “Authorizations and Appropriations: A Distinction Without Difference?” (May 10, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 15)

Robert Porter & Sam Walsh, “Earmarks in the Federal Budget Process” (Updated April 1, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 16)

William Fay & Michelle Rogers, "Appropriations for Mandatory Expenditures" (Updated March 30, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 17)

Nooree Lee, “Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, Reconsidered” (April 29, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 34)

Derek Lindblom, “The Budget Reconciliation Process” (May 11, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 35)

Avery Day, “Analysis of Congressional Budget Cycles: Fiscal Years 2004 - 2007” (May 11, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 36)

Mona Lewandoski, “The Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003, A Brief Legislative History” (May 6, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 37)

David W Casazza & Greg Schmidt, “The History of the Congressional Appropriations Process: 1789-2014” (May 11, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 42)

Justin Dews & Dan McConnell, “Sequestration and the 2011 Budget Control Act” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 43)

Katie B. Johnson & David W. Casazza, “The Obama Budget Cycles: FY2011 to FY 2014” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 44)

Nick Kypriotakis & Yuki Fujioka, “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 45)

Greg Schmidt & Justin Dews, “The Rise of Continuing Resolutions” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 46)

Jacqueline Lash & Brady Cassis, “The Use and Misuse of Appropriations Riders” (May 10, 2015) (Briefing Paper No. 50)

Brady Cassis & Tharuni Jayaraman, "Federal Funding of Infrastructure: Policies, Procedures, and Challenges" (Updated September 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 51)

Amy Hinz & Russell Spivak, “An Analysis of the Tax Expenditure Budget” (May 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 57)

Corey Braddock & Chaz Kelsh, “Budgeting for Homeland Security” (May 1, 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 58)

Brooke Stanley & Amy Hinz, “Budgeting for Gift Accounts and Revolving Funds” (May 6, 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 60)

C. William Courtney, "Revisiting Biennial Briefing" (June 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 67)

B. The Relationship Between Federal and State Spending

Stacy Anderson & Russell Constantine, "Unfunded Mandates" (April 20, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 7)

Dan Klaff & Adam Lawton, “Conditional Spending and Other Forms of Federal Cost Sharing” (Updated March 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 18)

Allison Quick, “Legal Limits on Conditional Spending including Recent Challenges to No Child Left Behind” (May 2, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 19)

Ruotao Wang & Peyton Miller, “State and Municipal Pension Liabilities: Reform Inside and Outside of Bankruptcy” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 47)

     Ed Stein, “Regulatory Budgeting: Recent Efforts and Recurring Issues” (November 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 73)

C. Reform Proposals for Congressional Procedures

Laurel Brown & Blake Roberts, "Alternative Procedures Line Item Vetoes and Balanced Budget Amendments" (May 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 3)

Stuart Young & Drew McLelland, “Implementing Biennial Budgeting for the U.S. Congress” (May 6, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 20)

Zachary D’Amico & Jacqueline Lash, “Dynamic Scoring: Challenges and Advantages of Macroeconomic Revenue Estimation and Scoring” (May 10, 2015) (Briefing Paper No. 52)

C. William Courtney, "Revisiting Biennial Briefing" (June 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 67)

Isaac Yoder, "Social Security Disability Insurance: Reform on the Path to 2052" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 70)

II. The Spending Powers of the Federal Executive

Takeshi Fujitani & Jared Shirck, "Executive Spending Powers: The Capacity to Reprogram, Rescind, and Impound" (May 3, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 8). For additional analysis of reprogramming, see Jared Shirck, "Separation of Powers in an Unconstitutional Context: Congressional-Agency Negotiation of Reprogramming" (June 15, 2006).

Adam Fletcher & Francis Shen, "War & Appropriations" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 9)

Puja Seam & Brad Shron, "Government Shutdowns" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 10)

Ellen Bradford & Russell Constantine, "The Debt Ceiling and Executive Latitude" (Updated January 7, 2009) (Briefing Paper No. 11)

Jeremy Kreisberg & Kelley O'Mara, The 2011 Debt Limit Impasse: Treasury's Actions & The Counterfactual - What Might have Happened if the National Debt Hit the Satutory Limit (September 4, 2012) (Briefing Paper No. 41)

Stacy Anderson & Blake Roberts, "Capacity To Commit in the Absence of Legislation: Takings, Winstar, FTCA, & the Court of Claims" (May 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 12)

Bob Allen & Sarah Miller, “The Constitutionality of Executive Spending Powers” (May 10, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 38)

Brian Callanan & David Weiler, “War Budgeting Strategies: Case Studies of The Gulf War and The Iraq War” (May 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 39)

Dan McConnell & Ruotao Wang, “The CFO Act of 1990 and Financial Management at Department of Defense” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 48)

Yuki Fujioka & Nick Kypriotakis, “Recognizing Credit Adjustments from Compromise, Waiver, and Other Actions of Government Agents” (May 12, 2014) (Briefing Paper No. 49)

Tai Fukumoto & Patrick Sharma, “The Two-Tiered Defense Budget: The Base Budget and Overseas Contingency Operations” (May 11, 2015) (Briefing Paper No. 53)

Russell Spivak & Brooke Stanley, “A 21st Century Moonshot: How Pres. Obama’s Call to Cure Cancer Gets Tax Dollars to Scientists” (Updated February 1, 2017) (Briefing Paper No. 59)

Brooke Stanley & Amy Hinz, “Budgeting for Gift Accounts and Revolving Funds” (May 6, 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 60)

Chaz Kelsh, “Presidential Influence on the Federal Budget” (May 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 61)

Ed Stein, "Enforcing Appropriations or Appropriating Enforcement? Financial Enforcement and Agency Spending Practices" (May 2017) (Briefing Paper No. 64)

Thomas Bounds, "Defense Acquisition and Acquisition Reform: A Study" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 66)

Jackie Parziale, "Reprogramming and the Department of Defense" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 69)

Andrew Swab, "Black Budgets: The U.S. Government’s Secret Military and Intelligence Expenditures" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 72)

Shams Haidari, "Government Shutdowns" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 68)

Ed Stein, “Regulatory Budgeting: Recent Efforts and Recurring Issues” (November 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 73)

Colin Mark, "May the Executive Branch Forgive Student Loan Debt Without Further Congressional Action?" (April 2021) (Briefing Paper No. 74)

III. Judicial Power to Control Federal Spending

John Lobato & Jeffrey Theodore, "Federal Sovereign Immunity" (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 21)

Drew McLelland & Sam Walsh, "Litigating Challenges to Federal Spending Decisions: The Role of Standing and Political Question Doctrine" (May 1, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 33)

Robert Porter,“Contract Claims Against the Federal Government: Sovereign Immunity and Contractual Remedies” (May 2, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 22)

Adam Lawton & Jeffrey Theodore, “Judicial Oversight of Social Security Under the Due Process Clause” (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 23)

Mark Champoux & John Lobato, “The Limited Power of Courts to Order Spending (May 14, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 24)

Patrick Sharma & Zachary D’Amico, “The Gold Clause Cases and Their Implications for Today” (May 8, 2015)
(Briefing Paper No. 54)

Tharuni Jayaraman & Taylor Bates, “NFIB v. Sebelius: A Potential Shift in the Doctrine of Conditional Spending” (May 13, 2015) (Briefing Paper No. 55)

Tracy Cui, "Funding for the Federal Judiciary: Evolution into Quasi-Independence" (August 8, 2017) (Briefing Paper No. 65)

IV. Accrual Accounting in the Federal Budget

Neill Perry & Puja Seam, "Accrual Accounting for Federal Credit Programs: The Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990" (Briefing Paper No. 6)

Hiroyuki Kohyama & Allison Quick, “Accrual Accounting in Federal Budgeting: Retirement Benefits for Government Workers” (May 1, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 25)

Daniel Klaff, “Accrual Accounting in Federal Budgeting: The Case of the PBGC” (April 24, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 26)

Mark Champoux, “Accrual Accounting in New Zealand and Australia: Issues and Solutions (April 29, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 27)

Taylor Bates & Tai Fukumoto, “Capital Budgeting: Efficacy and Feasibility for the Federal Government” (May 11, 2015) (Briefing Paper No. 56)

V. Economic Issues in Federal Budgeting

William Fay & Robert Porter, “Optimal Budget Deficits” (May 3, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 28)

Hiroyuki Kohyama, “Selecting Discount Rates for Budgetary Purposes” (May 22, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 29)

Jeff Zink, "Dynamic Scoring in Practice" (May 9, 2017) (Briefing Paper No. 63)

VI. Budget Concepts and Their Reform

David Burd & Takeshi Fujitani, "FASAB & The Financial Statements of the United States: Comparing Budget Aggregates to Financial Statements"  (May 3, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 13)

Trenton Hamilton & Matthew Scogin, "Broader Budget Aggregates: Proposed Reform Legislation" (May 4, 2005) (Briefing Paper No. 14)

Michelle Rodgers & Dan Sullivan, “Reconsidering the President’s Commission on Budget Concepts of 1967” (May 10, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 30)

VII. Comparative Budget Policy

Christopher Craig & Motfumi Umemura, “Spending caps and debt limits in the EU and Japan” (April 28, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 31)

Stuart Young, “The British Budget Process: A Case Study” (May 3, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 32)

Mark Champoux, “Accrual Accounting in New Zealand and Australia: Issues and Solutions" (April 29, 2006) (Briefing Paper No. 27)

Lee Hochbaum & Brent Lanoue, “Foreign Entitlement Reform: Australia, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden” (May 13, 2008) (Briefing Paper No. 40)

Jacqueline Lash, “The American and British Fiscal Policies After the Financial Crisis of 2008: An Examination of What Measures Were Taken and What Can Be Learned From Them (May 7, 2016) (Briefing Paper No. 62)

Cheryl Siew, "Power of the Purse in Singapore: Who Controls the Controllers?" (May 2019) (Briefing Paper No. 71)