Scorekeeping Rules


The scorekeeping rules, sometimes referred to as the “Scorekeeping Guidelines” as in section 257(e) (BBEDCA). 

The scorekeeping guidelines are used by the scorekeepers of the budget process: the Committees on the Budget of Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Office of Management and Budget. They are used to prepare estimates of legislation and, upon enactment, laws, by which compliance in budget enforcement process. The Congressional budget process is essentially rule-based, and hence the Standing Rules of the House and Senate, which depend on advisories from the Chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees, depend on the guidelines these to assess compliance. Statutes include the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (CBA); the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA); the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA; and the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

The purpose of the guidelines is intended to keep a common set of measurements by which legislation can be estimated. These rules are reviewed periodically by the Budget Committees, and OMB and CBO, to adjudicate any modifications. Formal changes require all of the scorekeepers to agree, which seldom happens (though some changes occurred in the 114th Congress). 

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)

Scorekeeping Rules

Guidelines established for use by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Committees on Budget and Appropriations in the House of Representatives and the Senate in measuring compliance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, as amended by the Budget Enforcement Act (BEA), and with the congressional budget process. Though the enforcement mechanisms of BEA expired, or became ineffective, at the end of fiscal year 2002, OMB continues to use the same scorekeeping rules developed for use with BEA for purposes of budget execution. Scorekeepers (OMB, CBO, and budget committees) have an ongoing dialogue and may revise rules, as required.

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Scoring or Scorekeeping: The process for estimating budget authority, outlay, revenue and deficit levels which result from congressional budgetary actions. Scorekeeping data prepared by the Congressional Budget Office include status reports on the effect of congressional actions and comparisons of these actions to targets and ceilings set by Congress in budget resolutions. These reports are published in the Congressional Record on a regular basis. OMB is responsible for scoring legislation to determine if a sequester is necessary.

[The Congressional Budget Process: An Explanation, Appendix J (Glossary), Committee on the Budget of the U.S. Senate, S. Prt. 105-67 (Revised December 1998).]


CRS – Baselines and Scorekeeping in the Federal Budget Process (98-560) November 26, 2012