White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney sent a memo to agency heads recently asking them to restrict any public comments they might make about the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal to only what was outlined in the budget blueprint document.
“Until OMB releases the full FY 2018 Budget, all public comments of any sort should be limited to the information contained in the Budget Blueprint chapter for your agency,” wrote Mulvaney.
He added that it is important for agencies not to make comments about specifics until the full budget is released, currently scheduled for May. A copy of Mulvaney’s memo is included below.
OMB released the budget blueprint for FY 2018 which set the administration’s priorities for the coming year.
The Trump administration has faced criticism in the past for allegedly restricting communications of some agencies, however, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the White House did not make any such directives to agencies. (see Did Trump Order a ‘Media Blackout’ at EPA?)
When the new administration came into office, it ordered a “regulatory freeze pending review” for all agency regulations to allow the administration to review any new or pending regulations. However, this is a standard practice during a changeover in administrations and was done when the Obama administration took office as well.
Memorandum: Testimony and Public Statements on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
March 17, 2017
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
FROM: Mick Mulvaney, Director
SUBJECT: Testimony and Public Statements on the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
In the coming weeks, you may be testifying before Congressional committees in support of the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint and participating in public events focused on budget initiatives. Until OMB releases the full FY 2018 Budget, all public comments of any sort should be limited to the information contained in the Budget Blueprint chapter for your agency. This includes highlights of major Administration initiatives and other proposals. Accordingly, it is critically important that you not make commitments about specific programs if they are not expressly mentioned in the Budget Blueprint. Similarly, you should not address account-level details. Comments on such specifics need to wait until the release of the full Budget. Agency officials appearing as witnesses in authorization, appropriations, or oversight hearings should defer any questions related to the full Budget until after the Budget is released.
Finally, it is our strong preference that only heads of executive Departments and Agencies or the Acting Head of the Department or Agency should testify on the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint. However, if you feel it is more appropriate to send another agency official, please work with your OMB representative.
Additional guidance and clearance of testimony and budget justification materials is provided in OMB Circular No. 11, section 22.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me or the staff at OMB if you have any questions about these protocols. And as always, thank you for your cooperation.