UMBC alumnus Mark Doms ‘85, economics and mathematics, has been appointed chief economist of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Doms will be one of the leads of the agency that provides Congress with objective, nonpartisan, and high quality information about the economic and financial impacts of existing laws, new laws, and policies under consideration.
“It is really important to get the best information so policymakers can decide which path to move forward on,” explains Doms, who has served as an economics expert for over three decades.
“At CBO we strive to provide high quality, nonpartisan information so Congress can make their decisions,” Doms says. “We believe that better information makes better decisions, especially now, with the huge, adverse economic impacts of COVID-19.”
His team helps provide Congress with data to better understand ongoing public policy issues such as living conditions, government assistance, and poverty. Through quantitative analysis, the agency is able to look at different facets of an issue by asking questions about what is known, what needs to be known, and what may not be known. CBO projections and analysis provide valuable insights into complex issues, allowing for in-depth understanding of the costs and benefits of various policies.
Doms is one of four UMBC alumni currently serving in the Congressional Budget Office. Kate Green ‘05, information technology, is a human resource specialist. Jorge Salazar ‘02, graphic design, is a visual Information and data visualization specialist. Ryan Mutter ‘01, M.A., economics, and Ph.D. ‘06, public policy is a principal analyst in the Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division of CBO. And Roy Meyers, professor of political science, was an analyst at CBO before joining UMBC.
The power of math and economics
Doms’s love of mathematics is a personal passion he fostered in high school and immersed himself in while at UMBC. He also remembers spending time at UMBC learning the computing and analytical skills needed to conduct research, and collect and analyze data.
“All of my professors at UMBC were inspiring,” shares Doms. “What was most valuable to me was their insistence that we learn a quantitative approach to inform policy not just from books, but from the real world,” he says.
Doms also benefited from the professional experience of UMBC faculty in understanding the world from a quantitative lens. “Most of my professors had hands-on experience working with policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” he recalls. “They were able to share an invaluable insider’s perspective.”
From them he learned the power of research and data analysis to help inform policy and the challenges they present.
Quantitative analysis for the greater good
In addition to quantitative analysis skills, Doms also notes the importance of communication skills to anyone wanting to enter the field of economics. He appreciates the skills he learned in his English and philosophy classes, which help him communicate important ideas with different audiences. For Doms, the best data and analysis in the world is not of service if it can’t be communicated clearly to a general audience.
After UMBC, Doms earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
He then served in the U.S. Census Bureau and the Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve as an economist. He was also the senior economist for The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Doms was appointed and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the under secretary for economic affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Obama administration. He has also worked at Japan’s largest investment bank and at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in France. In 2018 UMBC recognized his leadership in the field of economics with an Outstanding Alumnus in Natural and Mathematical Sciences Award.
Strength in diversity
In his decades of experience, Doms has always studied and worked with people from diverse backgrounds. He sees diversity as a necessary aspect of strong teams that produce great ideas.
Doms encourages students interested in economics to study abroad and become fluent in another language. While his travel and language experience happened on the job, he has seen the benefits of having these experiences early on in a field that requires an understanding of interconnected global issues.
For Doms, diversity in the economic field is key to helping communities learn more from one another and address today’s major challenges. He welcomes students from all backgrounds to apply to the CBO’s summer internship program and he actively engages in helping diversify CBO’s workforce.
“I really enjoy that I can use the economics, math, and communications skills I learned at UMBC and elsewhere to help us understand the world just a little bit better,” says Doms.
Banner image: Doms in front of the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Tim Lordan .