Board of Revenue Estimates Chief Departing During Economic Crisis

Andrew M. Schaufele, director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, speaks with reporters after a briefing about federal tax reform in 2018. Photo from the Maryland Comptroller's Office.

Self-proclaimed “nerdy government guy” Andrew Schaufele will leave his job as Maryland’s top economist ― to work for different governments across the country.

Schaufele, who has provided steady economic advice to Maryland’s top officials as head of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates since September 2012, will leave state government at the beginning of June.

During Schaufele’s tenure at the bureau beginning in 2008, the state has been through the Great Recession, then a sequestration-spurred Maryland recession, a volatile stock market after the 2016 election and federal tax reform in 2017. And lately, he has been making the rounds providing Maryland’s top elected officials with estimates about the COVID-19 pandemic’s crushing blow to the state’s finances and economy.

“It’s been a nonstop whirlwind of challenges,” Schaufele said.

Through much of it, Schaufele has been there to answer questions for Maryland’s legislators, budget secretary, treasurer and comptroller, the agency where his five-person bureau is housed.

Maryland is a bit unusual in having both a Bureau of Revenue Estimates and a comptroller.

The bureau serves as economic staff for the comptroller and as staff for the Board of Revenue Estimates.

That structure allows Schaufele direct, real-time access to the tax data that informs the economic forecasts and legislative analyses he provides.

But it can be a challenge to keep the bureau apolitical in times of tension.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating to watch the politics play out,” Schaufele said. “… But it’s just not our role to comment on things that way. And I think that’s important. That’s why policymakers trust us.”

Since announcing his departure, Schaufele has received high bipartisan praise in virtual meetings.

Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), at an informal meeting of the Board of Revenue Estimates, said she was “sitting here trying to figure out how to lock those doors behind him so he can’t get away.”

“You have been a great, great expert for us to rely on and you are going to be very sorely missed,” Kopp told Schaufele.

Sen. Andrew A. Serafini (R-Washington) took a minute from a Budget & Taxation Committee briefing to recognize Schaufele, whom he’d “begged and pleaded” to stay with the state.

“I fall into the Andy Schaufele fan club. I’ve been for a long time,” Serafini said. “And I’m saddened.”

Serafini told his fellow committee members that they should consider policies that would allow for higher compensation for state employees with specialized experience.

“I think we need to think about that in the future,” the senator said.

“… We pay our coaches a lot of money. And I would say what Andy Schaufele has done for our state with BRE is something that’s invaluable,” Serafini said.

Schaufele’s moving to ASR Analytics, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that develops government systems to detect fraud and abuse. He first learned about the company more than a decade ago when he was working as an analyst for the state and worked with ASR to create the comptroller’s office’s first algorithm to detect fraud and abuse in tax return filings.

That fraud system has become dramatically more sophisticated since, and Schaufele said he is looking forward to working on systems that can help governments across the country monitor the glut of new government programs intended to provide a safety net during this latest economic crash.

“With so much government money out there sloshing around, there’s going to be an even larger market,” Schaufele said.

But the new gig won’t take him too far from Annapolis. He’ll look to work with governments in the state to improve their systems and doesn’t plan to leave his Severna Park home.

“I’m a diehard Marylander,” Schaufele said.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.