Federal agency heads will prepare their FY2016 budgets at levels 2 percent below the amount planned for FY2016 in the FY2015 budget, according to guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget this week.

OMB Deputy Director Brian Deese told agency heads the FY2016 budget plan should “reduce spending on lower priority programs in order to create room for effective investments in areas that remain critical to securing our Nation’s future.” He said agency budgets “should reflect management strategies that will help us deliver a Government that is more effective and supportive of economic growth.”

OMB guidance for the FY2016 budget instructs agencies to avoid using across-the-board cuts, cutting mandatory spending in appropriations bills, shifting costs to other parts of the budget, reclassifying discretionary to mandatory, or enacting new user fees to offset existing spending. This is the same instructions OMB gave agencies last year for preparing the FY2015 budget,

Agencies are also directed to seek ways to increases program effectiveness and “reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication” and to include recommendations in each of these categories.

OMB asks agencies to identify additional investment opportunities, ranked in priority order, “that achieve a level that is up to 5 percent above your submission level, supporting efforts reflected in the FY 2015 Budget to restore discretionary levels needed to grow our economy.” Agencies are encouraged to consider programs that improve job training and employment.

OMB guidance encourages agencies to continue investments in the President’s Management Agenda reform priorities included in the FY2015 budget: effectiveness; efficiency; economic growth; and people and culture. In addition, OMB says agencies should focus on improving infrastructure permitting and “implementing insider threat and security clearance reform.”

Agencies are instructed to use the results of the review of their FY2015 strategic plans in developing their FY2016 budgets. They should identify those cases “where findings from the strategic reviews informed development of policy proposals.” OMB directs agencies also to note “changes in resource levels that may impact achievement of any Agency Priority Goal.”

OMB wants agencies to continue to emphasize “evidence-based policymaking” in the FY2016 budget to “drive better decisionmaking and achieve greater impact.” The goals for this effort in FY2016 will be supporting agencies to use evidence, evaluation, and data tools to improve outcomes and new approaches that have been proven to work.