Principles of Appropriations Law Training

FY 2015 Schedule

We have two Open Enrollment (for non-GAO federal participants) classes scheduled at GAO in fiscal year 2015:

    • April 14 – 16, 2015 and August 18 – 20, 2015

These classes are held primarily for GAO employees; however, we allot about 10 - 15 slots per class for non-GAO federal participants.

The Open Enrollment training is held here at GAO headquarters.

If classes are currently full, you can request to be placed on the waiting list.

We also schedule contracted group training for federal agencies upon request. However, these classes are scheduled based upon instructor availability.


$450.00 per participant

$4,000 (additional costs apply for groups taught outside of the Washington, D.C. area)

To register as an individual

E-mail PALCourse@GAO.Gov. Include

    • the class dates you desire
    • your contact information

Tuition for the course is paid through the IPAC (wire transfer) system or paying by credit card. All participants must complete an interagency agreement form to process the payment. Registration is not complete until GAO receives the completed interagency form. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL PAYMENT PROCESSING WILL BE COMPLETED AFTER THE TRAINING. Your agency will receive billing instructions after course completion. We will not accept advance payments. Please do not attempt to pay for training in advance using, or through the IPAC system, as these payment will be returned to your agency through our finance office.

To contract for a group class

E-mail PALCourse@GAO.Gov.

Class Hours

Days 1 and 2:  8:30 am to 4:00 p.m.

Day 3:  8:30 am to 12:00 p.m.

Course Description

GAO’s course on Principles of Appropriations Law acquaints participants with the purposes and principles of federal fiscal law. It blends lecture, case studies, and student participation in a way that engages and challenges participants, while maximizing the exchange of both practical and theoretical information.

The course is designed to provide the student with an analytical framework for approaching appropriations issues. Topics addressed include the availability of appropriations as to purpose, amount and time, the necessary expense rule, the Antideficiency Act, augmentation, the bona fide needs rule, and multiyear contracting.

This course refers to the same body of case law published in GAO’s Principles of Federal Appropriations Law (commonly referred to as “the Red Book”), and is a useful companion to the Red Book. Participants receive a copy of the Red Book on compact disc.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to Appropriations Law

    1. Constitution and Major Statutes
    2. Annual Budget Process
    3. Annual Appropriations Process
    4. Budget Execution and Control
    5. Apportionment and Allotment
    6. Obligating and Disbursing Funds
    7. Impoundment
    8. Account Closing
  2. Terminology and Classification
  3. Statutory Construction
  4. Availability of Appropriations:  Purpose

    1. Three-Step Analysis
    2. Necessary Expense Rule
    3. Statutory Purpose Restrictions
    4. Other Available Appropriations
  5. Availability of Appropriations:  Amount

    1. Antideficiency Act:  Provisions, Exceptions, Sanctions and Applications
    2. Rules Against Augmentation, and the Miscellaneous Receipts Act
  6. Availability of Appropriations: 

    1. General Rule
    2. Classification
    3. Bona Fide Needs Rule:  Fiscal Year Needs, Exceptions, and Applications
    4. Prohibitive on Advance Payments
    5. Appropriation Account Closing
  7. Obligation of Appropriations
  8. Interagency Transactions

Course Objectives

The course provides participants an analytical framework useful in identifying and resolving appropriations law issues arising in their own work. The course focuses on the availability of appropriations as to purpose, amount, and time. It also explains:

    • The basic constitutional and legislative controls and processes regarding federal funds
    • Fiscal law terminology
    • Fundamental rules of statutory construction.
    • The concept of “obligation” in appropriations law
    • The application of appropriations law in interagency transactions

Who should attend

Government personnel with finance, accounting, contracting, budgeting, property management, auditing, or legal responsibilities

Who has attended

Recent attendees include staff from the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor and State, the Federal Aviation Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, and the Library of Congress, as well as Army, Navy, and Joint Chiefs staff and staff from other Defense Department components, including the Comptroller’s Office, Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Defense Education Agency.

Course Materials

Participants receive a Manual (with course notes and exercises) of the current edition of the Red Book.

Other GAO Appropriations Law Training

    • Speakers
    • Abbreviated Courses and Seminars
    • Specialized Presentations

For more information, e-mail PALCourse@GAO.Gov