Robert Greenstein is the founder and executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The center is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1981 to analyze federal and state budget and policy issues, with an emphasis on the effects on low- and moderate-income Americans. A 1998 study based on surveys of members of Congress and senior administration officials identified the center as the single most effective organization in Washington on federal budget policy.
In 1994, President Clinton appointed Greenstein to serve as a member of the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement Reform. In 1996, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for making the center “a model for non-partisan research and policy organization.” The MacArthur Foundation called the center “an institution that combines rigorous analysis of public programs with a commitment to poor families. The Center’s research is widely respected for its honesty and objectivity.”
In 1979 and 1980, Greenstein served as administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He had primary responsibility for the nation’s food assistance programs, including the food stamp and school lunch programs. He oversaw a staff of 2,500 with an agency budget of $15 billion.
Greenstein has contributed articles to a number of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The New Republic; and to a number of books such as the 1991 Brookings Institution volume The Urban Underclass and a later Brookings book The New World of Welfare. He has been a guest on many network, cable, and local television and radio programs.
Greenstein received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and has done graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley. He received an honorary doctorate of public service from Tufts University in 1992. In 2002, Greenstein was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.