Antideficiency Act--Applicability to Statutory Prohibitions on the Use of Appropriations
B-317450: Mar 23, 2009
- Full Report:
In a letter dated October 30, 2008, the Committee requested our opinion regarding the applicability of the Antideficiency Act to statutory prohibitions on the use of appropriations. Specifically, the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has concluded that when an agency obligation or expenditure violates a statutory prohibition on the use of appropriated funds, the agency violates the Antideficiency Act only if the prohibition was enacted in the appropriations act from which the appropriations were obligated. Under this interpretation, agencies would not be required to report violations of statutory prohibitions on the use of appropriations unless the prohibition is incorporated "in an appropriation."
We disagree with OLC's narrow construction of the Act. In our opinion, neither the text of the statute nor the history and evolution of the Act over the last century support OLC's interpretation. Further, OLC's interpretation is not consistent with long-standing judicial and administrative understanding of the Act.