In a memo to agencies this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said unless they are otherwise directed, departments should request a minimum 5 percent less for 2013 than their 2011 enacted discretionary appropriations.
"As discussed at the recent Cabinet meetings, your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation," the memo states.
Lew warned that substituting savings from mandatory benefit or subsidy programs also funded through the appropriations bills is not an acceptable negotiating tactic.
"At the same time as your submission shows lower spending overall, you should identify programs to double down on because they provide the best opportunity to enhance economic growth. Finding the savings to support these investments will be difficult, but it is possible if budgets cut or eliminate low-priority and ineffective programs while consolidating duplicative ones," Lew wrote.