Federal Manager's Daily Report

OMB has sent another notice to agencies telling them to be restrictive in their public communications, this one focused on budgetary matters.

“In the coming weeks, you may be testifying before congressional committees in support of the administration’s fiscal year 2018 Budget Blueprint and participating in public events focused on budget initiatives. Until OMB releases the full FY 2018 budget, all public comments of any sort should be limited to the information contained in the Budget Blueprint chapter for your agency,” memo M-17-20 says.

“This includes highlights of major administration initiatives and other proposals. Accordingly, it is critically important that you not make commitments about specific programs if they are not expressly mentioned in the Budget Blueprint. Similarly, you should not address account-level details. Comments on such specifics need to wait until the release of the full budget. agency officials appearing as witnesses in authorization, appropriations, or oversight hearings should defer any questions related to the full budget until after the budget is released,” it says.

That follows a recent memo calling attention to long-standing policy under OMB Circular A-19 that legislative proposals, letters, testimony, and other communications to Congress must be first cleared through OMB.

The latest memo adds that “it is our strong preference that only heads of executive departments and agencies or the acting head of the department or agency should testify on the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint. However, if you feel it is more appropriate to send another agency official, please work with your OMB representative.”