• Appropriations Law Training

      GAO’s Principles of Appropriations Law course 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.

    • Appropriations Law Decisions

      GAO’s Office of General Counsel issues decisions and opinions on appropriations law. Learn more >


  • GAO's Principles of Appropriations Law Course

    GAO attorneys teach the Principles of Appropriations Law (PAL) course at (1) GAO headquarters for two open enrollment courses each fiscal year and (2) other federal agencies for group courses about a dozen times each fiscal year. The PAL course is two and a half days; the course runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on days 1 and 2 and from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on day 3. A course outline is below. The course generally qualifies for 17 CPE credits.

  • Registration for Open Enrollment Courses

    Each fiscal year, GAO offers 2 PAL courses on an open enrollment basis. GAO enrolls approximately 15 federal employees in each course, starting after October 1. For FY 2018, our open enrollment courses will be April 10 – 12, 2018 and August 14 – 16, 2018. At this time, GAO has received requests for all available seats in both courses. Those who have been offered seats have received an interagency agreement for their agency to complete, after which their agency must pay the $500 course fee to secure the participant’s enrollment. GAO will endeavor to finalize enrollment 2 months prior to the start of each course. If you wish to be placed on the wait list for one or both courses, please email PALCourse@gao.gov stating your preferences, and we will let you know if a space becomes available.

  • Registration for Group Courses

    The cost for a group course is $5,000 (plus additional costs for courses held outside the Washington, D.C. area). Course enrollment is limited to 35 participants. In recent years, we have held group courses at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development; the Library of Congress; U.S. Marshals Service; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among others.

    Please email PALCourse@gao.gov to request a group course. Please include your desired course dates. If your agency is selected, you must complete an interagency agreement in advance. We require reimbursement after the course via the IPAC (wire transfer) system.

  • Course Outline

    1. Introduction to Appropriations Law
      1. Constitution and Major Statutes
      2. Annual Budget and Appropriations Process
      3. Budget Execution and Control
      4. Apportionment and Allotment
      5. Obligating and Disbursing Funds
      6. Impoundment
    2. Terminology and Classification
    3. Statutory Construction
    4. Availability of Appropriations: Purpose
      1. Purpose 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: Time
      1. General Rule
      2. Bona Fide Needs Rule
      3. Prohibition on Advanced Payments
      4. Account Closing Law
    7. Obligation of Appropriations
    8. Interagency Transactions