On August 5, 1976, Alice Rivlin, the first director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), sent this memo to her staff emphasizing the critical importance of remaining nonpartisan. The mandate of the CBO is to provide budgetary and economic analysis to Congress in an objective, impartial manner. “We are not advocates,” Rivlin explained. “The reason is simple: our usefulness to, and our credibility with, the Congress depend on our being, and our being perceived to be, free from bias or connection with political causes or candidates.” Therefore, her memo goes on, CBO staff should not “promote or be identified with a candidate or campaign for federal office.”
Congress created the CBO as part of the 1974 Budget Control and Impoundment Act (P.L. 93-344), which reasserted the budgetary authority of Congress and established the House and Senate Budget Committees. The CBO began operating on February 24, 1975, with the appointment of Rivlin as director.