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2016 Rossi Award Winners
Congressional Budget Office Directors
Alice Rivlin (1975-1983), Rudolph Penner (1983-1987), Robert Reischauer (1989-1995)
We are delighted to announce that Rudolph G. Penner, Robert D. Reischauer, and Alice M. Rivlin have been jointly selected as the recipients of the 2016 Peter H. Rossi Award for Contributions to the Theory or Practice of Program Evaluation. Penner, Reischauer, and Rivlin are being recognized for their combined role in establishing the standards under which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) still operates. Collectively, they established a firm foundation of independence and evidence-based objectivity essential to the mission of an organization with CBO's key national role.
The CBO performs some of the most policy-relevant program evaluations in the United States. It systematically takes what is known about a program (or legislative proposal) and its possible effectiveness (including its costs and benefits) and places that information in a disciplined analytic framework useful to the Congress and those outside. Its work often faces the sharp critiques of outside experts, interest groups, and ideologues.
As the following demonstrates, the awardees have all had outstanding careers in public services. And, beyond their roles at CBO, each has made major contributions to the field of program evaluation.
Alice Rivlin was the first director of the CBO, serving between 1975 and 1983. As founding director, she worked with a small startup staff to develop the initial standards and practices by which the CBO would function. To prevent the agency from being seen as taking sides with one party or the other, Rivlin decided that CBO reports should not contain policy recommendations. She reinforced this by establishing personnel structures that separated policy and budgetary analysts-so that the policy analysts would not be drawn into budgetary issues and vice versa.
Rivlin is currently a senior fellow in Economic Studies and the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution and a visiting professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown. She was the director of the Office Management and Budget (OMB) in the first Clinton Administration (1993-1996) and, later, was vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board (1996-1999). From 1998 to 2001, she chaired the District of Columbia Financial Management and Assistance Authority. In the past, she was the director of the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution (1983-1987), and was the first Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare (1968-1969). In 2010, Rivlin was named by President Obama to the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; she also co-chaired, with former Senator Pete Domenici, the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Debt Reduction.
Besides many articles, Rivlin is the author or coauthor of The Role of the Federal Government in Financing Higher Education (1961), Microanalysis for Socioeconomic Systems: A Simulation Study (with Guy Orcutt, 1961), Measures of State and Local Fiscal Capacity and Tax Effort (with Susan Mushkin, 1962), Systematic Thinking for Social Action (with Walter Salant, 1971), Setting National Priorities: The 1972 Budget (with Charles L. Schultze, Edward R. Fried, and Nancy H. Teeters, 1971), Setting National Priorities: The 1974 Budget (with Charles L. Schultze, Edward R. Fried, and Nancy H. Teeters, 1973), Economic Choices 1987 (with Henry J. Aaron, Harvey Galper, Joseph A. Pechman, George L. Perry, and Charles L. Schultze, 1986), Caring for the Disabled Elderly: Who Will Pay (with Joshua Wiener, 1988), Reviving the American Dream (1992), Beyond the Dot.coms (with Robert E. Litan, 2001), Restoring Fiscal Sanity: How to Balance the Budget (with Isabel V. Sawhill, 2004), Restoring Fiscal Sanity 2005: Meeting the Long-Run Challenges (with Isabel V. Sawhill, 2005), and Restoring Fiscal Sanity 2007: The Health Spending Challenge (with Joseph R. Antos, 2007). She also edited Ethical and Legal Issues of Social Experimentation (with Michael Timpane, 1975), Planned Variation in Education: Should We Give Up or Try Harder? (with Michael Timpane, 1975), Economic Chocies 1984 (1983), The Swedish Economy (with Barry P. Bosworth, 1987), and The Economic Payoff from the Internet Revolution (with Robert Litan, 2001).
Rivlin received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and a doctorate in economics from Radcliffe College (Harvard University).
Rudolph Penner was the second director of the CBO, serving between 1983 and 1987. During his tenure, he institutionalized and enhanced many of the practices that Rivlin and her staff had developed. He also implemented the CBO's budgetary forecast process, updating the agency's macroeconomic and cost-estimate tools. He set an important precedent by retaining the agency's key staff during a period of political transition.
Penner is currently an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute. Before joining the Urban Institute, he was a managing director of the Barents Group, a KPMG Company (1995-1998), and, earlier, was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute from 1977 to 1983. His previous posts in government include assistant director for economic policy at the Office of Management and Budget, deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and senior staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisers. Penner was elected president of the American Tax Policy Institute in 2005 and is a past president of the National Economists Club.
Besides numerous articles, Penner authored The 1978 Budget in Transition: From Ford to Carter to Congress (with Lawrence J. Korb, 1976) and coauthored Updating America's Social Contract: Economic Growth and Opportunity in the New Century (with Isabel V. Sawhill and Timothy Taylor, 1999). Penner also edited The Constitution and The Budget (with W. Sidney Moore, 1980), The Congressional Budget Process After Five Years (1981), Social Security and National Saving (1989), Broken Purse Strings: Congressional Budgeting 1974-1988 (with Alan J. Abramson, 1989), Dealing with the Budget Deficit (1989), The Great Fiscal Experiment (1990), Taxing the Family (2004), and International Perspectives on Social Security Reform (2007).
Penner received his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and his doctorate in economics from the Johns Hopkins University.
Robert Reischauer was CBO director from 1989 to 1995. (He was appointed after a two-year gap in leadership caused by a deadlock in Congress.) He also served as Deputy Director under Alice Rivlin (1977-1981), when he helped craft the agency's organizational models and shaped its hiring and personnel management practices. As CBO Director, Reischauer led the agency during the Clinton administration's health care reform efforts, enhancing its ability to make widely accepted cost estimates of such major legislation.
Reischauer is currently a Distinguished Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute, which he led from 2000 to 2012. He is also one of two public trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, and was a senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation (2010-2014).
In addition to many articles, Reischauer's publications include Reforming School Finance (with Robert W. Hartman, 1973) and Countdown to Reform: The Great Social Security Debate (with Henry J. Aaron, 1998). He also edited Setting National Priorities: Budget Choices for the Next Century (1996), Medicare: Preparing for the Challenges of the 21st Century (with Stuart Butler and Judith R. Lave, 1998), Setting National Priorities: The 2000 Election and Beyond (with Henry J. Aaron, 1999) and Vouchers and the Provision of Public Service (with C. Eugene Steuerle, Van Doorn Ooms, and George E. Peterson, 2000).
Reischauer received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University as well as a masters degree in international affairs and a doctorate in economics from Columbia University.
Through the combined efforts of Rivlin, Penner, and Reischauer-and their successors-the CBO developed and has since maintained high-quality and objective analytic techniques that make it and its staff highly respected and relied on by congressional leaders from both parties. In the words of Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, the CBO helps "ensure that the money taxpayers send to Washington is used responsibly and that there is transparency and oversight of all government programs."
The information CBO provides our committee and our colleagues in Congress is vital to that goal and to the legislative process. Having sound analysis in a timely manner that is responsive to the needs of members of Congress will help us advance real solutions. . . CBO has done tremendous work over the past 40 years thanks to its incredibly talented and dedicated staff. (U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Committee on the Budget: CBO Oversight: Hearings before the Committee on the Budget. 114th Cong., 1st sess., June 3, 2015.)
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