Posted on 7/23/2011 10:30 AM

The Antideficiency Act

Just what does the Antideficiency Act say?  It prohibits:

  1. Making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available (unless authorized by law);
  2. Involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated;
  3. Accepting voluntary services for the United States (with certain exceptions); and
  4. Making obligations or expendiures in excess of apportionments or agency regulations.

The government may not make payments or commit the United States to make payments in the future for goods or services if it does not have the money available.  There are both administrative and penal penalties for violations.

What does not having the money available mean?  The prevailing interpretation is that it means money appropriated.  But what does "or funds" in the statute mean?  What if the money is appropriated, but it is not "in the bank"?  What did Congress intend?

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