Yesterday, as almost everyone in the budget world knows, was the day the FY2014 federal budget was to be released.  But, that day has come and gone and now the question is:  When will the FY2014 federal budget  go to Congress? 

In January, Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients told House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-KS) that the delay in enacting the “American Taxpayer Relief Act” (signed on January 2, 2013), which resolved or extended a number of tax and spending issues (including delaying sequestration implementation until March 2, 2013) had caused a delay in preparation of the FY2014 budget. 

Another reason for the delay cited by OMB is that Congress has not yet completed action on the FY2013 budget (the government is operating under a continuing resolution until March 27, 2013).

So, for now OMB and the agencies are still working on the FY2014 budget and it will be submitted “as soon as possible.”

It is not unusual for budget submission date to be slipped.  In transition years , when the White House changes hands, the new administration often delays submitting the budget.  Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush submitted their budgets in April and President Obama released his revised budget in May.  This delay is usually to provide time for a new president to revise budgets prepared by the previous administration or to develop a new budget, if the outgoing president chose not to submit one.  (A Congressional Research Service report is a good source of information on budget submission during presidential transitions.) 

In non-transition years (that is, when there is no change in administrations) delays in submitting budgets are not the norm and when they occurred have been short in duration.  President Clinton’s FY1998 budget was three days late and President Obama’s FY2012 and FY2013 budgets were one week late.

However, for the FY2014 budget, the continuing uncertainty and inaction on sequestration and the FY2013 budget have caused considerable budgetary uncertainty, which has led to a much longer delay.  As a result, the FY2014 budget probably will not be submitted to Congress until mid-to-late March.