Panel Paper: Using Data Visualization At the Congressional Budget Office

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 3:40 PM
Mencken (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jonathan Schwabish, Congressional Budget Office

The emerging field of data visualization combines data analysis, graphic design,  journalism, and statistics in a way that can help economists and policy practioners provide their audience with greater insights into their research. Employing many of the new products and techniques from this emerging field, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has started introducing new data visualization products to help serve the Congress. The CBO is tasked with providing Congress with objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on a wide array of programs covered by the federal budget. To do so, every year CBO produces thousands of cost estimates, hundreds of written reports, and testifies in front of Congress dozens of times. In the age of new data visualization tools and products and with the increased use of social and multimedia, the Congressional Budget Office has found new ways to connect with the Congress. Those products include infographics, online interactive features, and by improving the graphics the agency uses in its traditional publications. This paper summarizes the new data visualization products CBO has produced over the past year and explores how those new products have helped CBO improve how it serves Congress.