Period of Availability of Appropriated Funds
Letter to the Honorable Steve Womack
The Congressional Budget Office is providing the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform with information about the period during which discretionary budget authority provided in annual appropriation acts is generally available for obligation.
By law, budget authority is provided to allow federal agencies to enter into obligations, and in most cases, those funds expire if they are not obligated during a specified period. Once expired, such funds are no longer available for obligation unless newly appropriated.
Discretionary budget authority generally is designated as:
- Annual authority, which expires at the end of the first year in which an appropriation is made available (unless explicitly stated otherwise, funds provided in appropriation acts are available for one year only);
- Multiyear authority, which expires at the end of a designated period of more than one year; or
- “No-year” authority, which does not expire but remains available until the funds are expended.
Data from the Department of the Treasury (see attached report) indicates that the discretionary budget authority provided for fiscal year 2017 (excluding advance appropriations and spending authority from offsetting collections) was made available as follows:
- 51 percent for one year,
- 19 percent for two years,
- 14 percent for three or more years, but expiring on a specified date, and
- 15 percent indefinitely until expended.