Posted on Thursday, 4th May 2017 by

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The budget analyst series covers positions that perform, advise on, or supervise work in any of the phases of budget administration when such work requires knowledge and skill in applying budget- related laws, regulations, policies, precedents, methods, and techniques.

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The federal government employs 13,397 in this occupation of which 341 work overseas. The military departments employ 6,360 , the Department of Defense employs 738, the VA employs 730. There are workers in this series in all cabinet level departments, and in most large and many small agencies.

Budgeting in the Federal Government is a cyclical process consisting of three major phases:

  • budget formulation,
  • budget presentation/enactment, and
  • budget execution.

The three phases co-exist during the fiscal year. When the approved operating budget for the current fiscal year is in the execution phase, the proposed budget for the following fiscal year is in the presentation/enactment phase, and the budget request for two years hence is in the formulation phase.

The budget cycle for a single budget year covers nearly three calendar years.

Budget officer and budget analyst positions function in organizations that are large enough to warrant establishing full-time positions to do budget administration work. The positions exist in nearly all agencies and departments of the Executive Branch. Tight timeframes, and rigid milestones and deadlines for completing budget actions characterize much of the work.

The budget officer is normally responsible for the full complement of budgetary operations necessary to support the programs and personnel of the organizational component and level in which employed. At a minimum , these responsibilities include formulation of the budget request and execution of the approved annual operating budget for the employing component.

In addition to performing a wide range of analytical, technical, and advisory functions related to the budgetary processes, most budget officers also perform supervisory duties and responsibilities over a subordinate staff of budget analysts and administrative support positions. Many budget officers report to a Chief Financial Officer or other management official in the supervisory chain with authority and responsibility for the total financial management of the employing organization.

Federal Government Requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
  • The yearly salary for a GS-12 is $72,168.00 to $93,821.00

Typical Duties & Occupational Profile:

  • Work with program and project managers to develop the organization’s budget
  • Review managers’ budget proposals for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with laws and other regulations
  • Combine all the program and department budgets together into a consolidated organizational budget and review all funding requests for merit
  • Explain their recommendations for funding requests to others in the organization, legislators, and the public
  • Help the chief operations officer, agency head, or other top managers analyze proposed plans and find alternatives if the projected results are unsatisfactory
  • Monitor organizational spending to ensure that it is within budget
  • Inform program managers of the status and availability of funds
  • Estimate future financial needs

Budget analysts advise various institutions—including governments, universities, and businesses—on how to organize their finances. They prepare annual and special reports and evaluate budget proposals. They analyze data to determine the costs and benefits of various programs and recommend funding levels based on their findings. Although elected officials (in government) or top executives (in a private company) usually make the final decision on an organization’s budget, they rely on the work of budget analysts to prepare the information for that decision.

Sometimes, budget analysts use cost-benefit analyses to review financial requests, assess program tradeoffs, and explore alternative funding methods. Budget analysts also may examine past budgets and research economic and financial developments that affect the organization’s income and expenditures. Budget analysts may recommend program spending cuts or redistributing extra funds.
Throughout the year, budget analysts oversee spending to ensure compliance with the budget and determine whether changes to funding levels are needed for certain programs. Analysts also evaluate programs to determine whether they are producing the desired results.

In addition to providing technical analysis, budget analysts must effectively communicate their recommendations to officials within the organization. For example, if there is a difference between the approved budget and actual spending, budget analysts may write a report explaining the variations and recommend changes to reconcile the differences.

Budget analysts working in government attend committee hearings to explain their recommendations to legislators. Occasionally, budget analysts may evaluate how well a program is doing, provide policy analysis, and draft budget-related legislation.

Education

Employers generally require budget analysts to have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers may require candidates to have a master’s degree. Because developing a budget requires strong numerical and analytical skills, courses in statistics or accounting are helpful. Federal, state, and local governments have varying requirements, but usually require a bachelor’s degree in one of many areas, such as accounting, finance, business, public administration, economics, statistics, political science, or sociology.

Sometimes, budget-related or finance-related work experience can be substituted for formal education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Government budget analysts may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager credential from the Association of Government Accountants. To earn this certification, candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, 24 credit hours of study in financial management, 2 years of professional-level experience in governmental financial management, and they must pass a series of exams. To keep the certification, budget analysts must take 80 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Advancement

Entry-level budget analysts begin with limited responsibilities, but advancement is common. As analysts gain experience, they have the opportunity to advance to intermediate and senior budget analyst positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Budget analysts must be able to process a variety of information, evaluate costs and benefits, and solve complex problems.

Communication skills. Budget analysts need strong communication skills because they often have to explain and defend their analyses and recommendations in meetings and legislative committee hearings.

Detail oriented. Creating an efficient budget requires careful analysis of each budget item.

Math skills. Most budget analysts need math skills and should be able to use certain software, including spreadsheets, database functions, and financial analysis programs.

Writing skills. Budget analysts must present technical information in writing that is understandable for the intended audience.

The occupational profile information was excerpted from the Occupational Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor.

GS-0560 Budget Analyst (Excerpted from USA Job Announcement)

Basic Requirements:

  • Financial Management Level 2 Certificate must be obtain within one (1) year of placement.
  • Knowledge of Budget Formulation/Execution utilizing a Financial Automated System
  • Knowledge of Budgetary Guidelines, Regulations and Processes
  • Ability to Manage Budget Program
  • Ability to communicate orally

Budget Analyst Duties:

  • Serve as Senior Budget Analyst performing a variety of duties in the planning, analysis, formulation, justification, presentation, execution and review of multi-year budgets for a large organization;
  • Defend budget and justify a supplemental budget request as required;
  • Plan, program, formulate, and execute the budget of assigned programs by reviewing and utilizing pertinent policies and objectives, and reviewing financial reports;
  • Analyze requests from all activities to determine adequacy to support approved programs, projects, and conformance with budgetary guidelines;
  • Evaluate programs and funds received from higher headquarters to determine the need for adjustments or submission of a request for additional resources;
  • Recommend reprogramming of funds in relation to execution and coordinates supporting actions with higher headquarters.

Job Prospects:

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program)

Employment of budget analysts is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. This occupation has fairly steady turnover, as budget analysts often leave the occupation to pursue opportunities to work in similar areas. These opportunities include positions as higher-level budget analysts at other organizations and positions in related business and financial occupations, such as financial analysts. For this reason, job prospects are expected to be good for entry-level budget analysts.

Efficient use of public funds is increasingly expected at the Federal, state, and local levels. Budget analysts should be in demand for their ability to manage the allocation of public funds. Many state and local governments, which previously had hiring freezes due to revenue shortfalls, are now seeing growth in revenue and spending. This should allow for increased hiring of budget analysts, as these governments fill positions that were previously left vacant. Budget analysts working in state government are projected to grow 2 percent, while those working in local government are projected to grow 6 percent.

However, recent slowdowns in federal spending and employment have limited overall employment growth at the federal level. Because of this, budget analysts working in the federal government are projected to decline 10 percent.
Job Series Titles: (Click on the job title to view job vacancies for government and private sector jobs.) The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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