The Office of Budget and Management is responsible for the administration of the city’s budget. Because OBM oversees the preparation of each department’s budget, as well as the non-departmental “finance general” spending category, the OBM hearing is the best opportunity for City Council to ask questions regarding any parts of the budget that do not have a dedicated departmental hearing, which in this year’s budget are:

  • Finance General (non-departmental category)
  • Office of the Mayor

The snapshot below is specific to OBM’s budget as an operating department. BGA Policy has also prepared separate snapshots for Finance General and the Office of the Mayor.

Snapshot: Appropriation & Staffing Changes from 2023 Budget

2023 Budgeted2024 ProposedNet ChangePercent Change
Positions & FTEs565935.36%

Departmental Highlights

  • Because OBM oversaw roughly $1.5 billion of federal American Rescue Plan spending in the 2022 and 2023 budgets, its recent departmental appropriations were far larger than the historical average. As federal funding expires, OBM’s budget appears significantly smaller, but overall staffing and operation-related appropriations have undergone modest increases relative to pre-pandemic trends.
  • Roughly 60% of OBM’s proposed 2024 budget is dedicated to outside contracting. Another 12.6% is allocated for pass-through spending to delegate agencies, an appropriation category the department did not use in the 2023 budget.
  • OBM staffing has increased significantly since the pandemic, with the number of budgeted positions growing at an average rate of 7.1% annually since the 2021 budget. Prior to the pandemic OBM staffing had been increasing at a rate of 1.4% annually.

Historical Context

Year-over-year comparisons of OBM’s recent budgets are distorted by federal pandemic funding. As pandemic relief took shape during the latter half of 2020 onwards, OBM acted as the operating department for the Chicago Rescue Plan, taking responsibility for billions of dollars in pass-through and third-party spending detailed on the Chicago Rescue Plan homepage.

Starting in the 2021 budget, OBM’s budget included tens of millions of dollars in CARES Act funding and another $100 million in placeholder “public assistance” funding. By the 2022 budget, when the framework of the American Rescue Plan and other federal relief programs were more fully developed, OBM’s departmental budget appropriated $1.3 billion for American Rescue Plan Revenue Replacement and another $38 million for American Rescue Plan Investment. 

In 2023, OBM’s ARP-funded appropriations dropped to $183.8 million, including the department’s first specific appropriations outside of the “American Rescue Plan Revenue Replacement” appropriation: $31.2 million in professional and technical services (outside contracting) and $92,820 in salaries and wages, accompanied by $​​60,556 in fringe benefits.

Prior to the 2021 budget and the infusion of pandemic relief funds, OBM’s departmental budget had been declining at an average rate of -0.8% per year.  Departmental budgets overall increased an average of 1.5% per year over the same time period, while the total city budget including Finance General appropriations grew at an average rate of 4.5% annually.

For the same pre-pandemic years OBM’s budgeted workforce grew at a rate of roughly 1.4% annually. Overall budgeted positions for the city remained relatively flat across the same time period, with minor year-to-year fluctuations averaging out to an overall growth rate of 0.002%. OBM’s workforce has grown more rapidly during the 2021-2023 pandemic budgets, and continues to increase in the proposed 2024 budget. Since the 2021 budget OBM’s budgeted positions have increased by 28.2%, an average of roughly 7.1% annually.


Overall headcount at OBM is up three positions from the previous year. In addition to a small number of title changes, the department added two new grants managers, a senior recovery team manager, and a new public relations manager.


Largest Appropriations

Roughly 60% of OBM’s 2024 proposed budget is dedicated to outside contracting (the “professional and technical services” appropriation account). A further 12.6% is budgeted for pass-through to delegate agencies, a new appropriation category in the OBM budget this year. 

Change from Previous Year

The elimination of American Rescue Plan Revenue Replacement is the largest net change in the OBM budget by far, followed by a reduction in professional and technical services appropriations. 

OBM has several new appropriation categories in the proposed 2024 budget, including nearly $4 million pass-through spending to delegate agencies. Most other substantial appropriation increases were to staffing/salary-related categories. 


Geoffrey Cubbage is a policy and budget analyst focusing on the Illinois General Assembly and Chicago's City Council. Prior to joining the Better Government Association in 2022, Geoffrey served as Director...