Bid Protests, Appropriations Law, & Other Legal Work

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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.

GAO’s Course

Principles of Appropriations Law (PAL) is a 2 ½ -day course taught by experienced GAO attorneys. GAO offers PAL exclusively through live, in-person training, either at GAO headquarters (see Registration for Open Enrollment Courses) or at a requesting agency’s training site (see Registration for Group Courses). The course begins at 8:30 AM each day. It ends at approximately 3:45 PM on Days 1 and 2 and 11:30 AM on Day 3. The course generally qualifies for 17 continuing professional education (CPE) credits. See below for a complete course outline.


Registration for Open Enrollment Courses

Each fiscal year, GAO offers 2 PAL courses on an open enrollment basis at a fee of $500 per seat. GAO enrolls approximately 15 federal employees in each course and begins accepting registration requests starting October 1 of a given fiscal year (we do not consider requests received before October 1). For FY 2019, GAO held its first open enrollment course from April 23 – 25, 2019, and we will hold our second (and final) course from August 13 – 15, 2019. At this time, GAO has offered all available seats, and the wait-list is also full.  However, GAO will withdraw an offered seat if the agency does not complete the following 2-step reimbursement process: (1) the execution of an interagency agreement AND (2) the use of a government credit card to make advance payment via  GAO endeavors to finalize enrollment 8 weeks prior to the start of a course.

Registration for Group Courses

PAL group courses can accommodate up to 35 employees at your agency’s training location for a fee of $5,000 and, if applicable, GAO travel expenses for group courses held outside the Washington, D.C. local travel area. If your agency wishes to host a group course in fiscal year 2020, GAO would appreciate your request by August 31, 2019.  Please email PALCourse@GAO.GOV and use the subject heading “PAL GROUP COURSE REQUEST [Insert Your Agency’s Name and the Geographic Location of Your Requested Course]. Your request should include (1) your name and contact information, (2) whether GAO was unable to accommodate a group course request from your agency last fiscal year, and (3) for which of the following dates your agency would be available to host a group course in fiscal year 2020:

  • November 5, 2019 to November 7, 2019
  • December 10, 2019 to December 12, 2019
  • January 14, 2020 to January 16, 2020
  • January 28, 2020 to January 30, 2020
  • February 11, 2020 to February 13, 2020
  • March 24, 2020 to March 26, 2020
  • April 7, 2020 to April 9, 2020
  • April 21, 2020 to April 23, 2020
  • May 5, 2020 to May 7, 2020
  • May 19, 2020 to May 21, 2020
  • June 2, 2020 to June 4, 2020
  • June 16, 2020 to June 18, 2020
  • June 23, 2020 to June 25, 2020
  • July 14, 2020 to July 16, 2020
  • July 28, 2020 to July 30, 2020
  • August 11, 2020 to August 13, 2020
  • August 25, 2020 to August 27, 2020
  • September 1, 2020 to September 3, 2020
  • September 15, 2020 to September 17, 2020

GAO endeavors to contact agencies within the first six weeks of the fiscal year to finalize its group course schedule.  Agencies offered a spot on our schedule must execute an interagency agreement in advance of the course to reimburse GAO the $5,000 course fee and, if applicable, GAO’s estimated travel expenses.  After GAO completes your course, it will bill your agency via the Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) system for the $5,000 course fee and, if applicable, GAO’s actual travel expenses.

Please note that is difficult to accommodate group course requests in the first quarter of the fiscal year because of the need to execute the interagency agreement in advance of the PAL course.  In addition, please be advised that GAO does not provide travel estimates for agencies requesting group courses outside the Washington, D.C. local travel area. We would refer you to GSA’s Travel Resources to estimate the travel expenses for two GAO instructors to teach a 2 ½ day course at your requested location. Finally, if you are a government employee seeking registration on an individual, rather than a group, basis, please see Registration for Open Enrollment Courses, above.

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