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The Appropriations Law Answer Book by William G. Arnold

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Chapter 2

Purpose

This chapter introduces the concept of the “availability” of appropriations. Comptroller general decisions are often stated in terms of whether appropriated funds are or are not “legally available” for a given obligation or expenditure. This is just another way of saying that a given item is or is not a legal expenditure. Legal availability depends on three factors:1

1. The purpose of the obligation or expenditure must be authorized.

2. The obligation must occur within the time limits applicable to the appropriation.

3. The obligation and expenditure must be within the amounts Congress has established.

Thus, three elements—purpose, ...

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