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. Days 1 and 2 run from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 3:45 p.m., and Day 3 runs from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 11:30 a.m.  The course generally qualifies for 17 continuing professional education (CPE) credits.  See below for a complete course outline.

PAL is only available 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 Group Courses).


Registration for Open Enrollment Courses

Each fiscal year, GAO offers 2 PAL courses on an open enrollment basis at a cost 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, our open enrollment courses will be April 23 – 25, 2019 and August 13 – 15, 2019. At this time, GAO has received requests for all available seats in both courses, and the wait-lists are also full. Those who have been offered seats have received an interagency agreement for their agency to complete, after which their agency must pay the $500 fee in advance of the course to secure the participant’s enrollment. GAO will endeavor to finalize enrollment 2 months prior to the start of each course

Registration for Group Courses

PAL group courses are taught at various federal agencies and can accommodate up to 35 agency employees for a fee of $5,000 (plus additional costs for instructor travel expenses for group courses held outside the Washington, D.C. local travel area). In recent years, GAO has taught group courses at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and State; the Office of Personnel Management; and the General Services Administration.

For its FY 2019 group course schedule, GAO asked agencies to submit requests by August 31, 2019. Based on the volume of requests received, GAO is no longer accepting requests for FY 2019 group courses.  In the event that circumstances change and we are able to accommodate additional FY 2019 group course requests, we will update this page accordingly. In addition, we will update this page in the summer of 2019 to alert agencies that we are soliciting expressions of interest for FY 2020 group courses.

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