Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Summary of Chapter 12: Budgeting and Financial Management

*Excerpt from Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide, copyright Congressional Management Foundation. 



  • DO use your strategic plan as a blueprint for making budget choices. Make financial decisions and allocate resources with your strategic goals in mind.
  • DO follow the seven-step approach to updating your budget:
    1. note any changes to your strategic plan.
    2. brainstorm to identify what resources it will take to accomplish priorities.
    3. analyze how you actually spent last year’s budget.
    4. note any rule changes affecting the budget.
    5. identify expenses that are flexible or long-term commitments.
    6. review and justify major allocations in your current budget.
    7. create a new month-by-month budget.
  • DO make sure you understand the rules and regulations of your chamber. Review the requisite materials and contact the appropriate institutional staff when setting up your financial procedures and prior to making any purchases or commitments.


  • DON'T succumb to common budgeting pitfalls by: spending on non-priorities; overspending; spending taxpayer’s money in a way that invites media scrutiny.
  • DON'T overlook the importance of developing an accounting system to track what you actually spend. The House Learning Center and Senate Office of Education and Training offer classes to help staff develop this system.
  • DON'T fail to write down established budget policies and procedures. Your office policy manual should address spending authority, reimbursements, out-of-pocket expenditures and record keeping.