Bilmes is a full-time faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she teaches budgeting, cost accounting and public finance. Widely considered one of the leading experts in U.S. budgeting and public finance, she has held senior positions in government, including Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Commerce during the Clinton administration and has served on a number of high-level national commissions. She is one of four individuals selected by Congress in 2010 as a candidate for Comptroller General of the United States.
Bilmes is co-author (with Joseph Stiglitz) of the New York Times bestseller, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2008) and co-author (with W. Scott Gould) of “The People Factor: Strengthening America by Investing in Public Service” (Brookings Institution Press, 2009). Bilmes is well known for her work on the cost of war and veterans’ issues, including the landmark paper, “Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits.” Recent book chapters (with Joseph Stiglitz) appear in the “Handbook on the Economics of Conflict” (Edward Elgar Pub, 2011) and “The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Peace and Conflict” (Oxford University Press, 2012). Bilmes has written extensively on budgeting and financial topics—including books, book chapters, academic papers, Harvard teaching cases and print media—and has testified at numerous congressional hearings on subjects including veterans’ benefits, federal public service and war costs. She is a frequent guest on national television and radio broadcasts, was featured in Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award-nominated documentary “No End in Sight” and in “Rethinking Afghanistan” by Brave New Films. She is the recipient of the 2008 “Speaking Truth to Power” award from the American Friends Service Committee.
Bilmes currently serves on the Department of Interior National Park System Advisory Committee and Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment, Outreach and Training. She runs an innovative program to assist cities and towns in Greater Boston with financial health, leading teams of Harvard student volunteers who work in the communities. She also leads budgeting and appropriations workshops for newly-elected mayors and members of Congress. Earlier in her career, she worked as a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in London, Madrid and Moscow. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harvard.