Appropriations Law Training


GAO’s Principles of Appropriations Law (PAL) 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 taught by experienced GAO attorneys.  Beginning November 2021, GAO is offering several courses through virtual training (see Registration for Group Courses).  The course is 5 ½ hours, including breaks.  It begins at 9:30 AM EST and ends at approximately 3:00 PM.  The course generally qualifies for 6 continuing professional education (CPE) credits.  See below for a complete course outline.


Registration for Open Enrollment

Each fiscal year, GAO offers at least one PAL course on an “open enrollment” basis, meaning that GAO enrolls individual federal employees for a fee of $300 per seat. GAO typically begins accepting open enrollment requests starting October 1 of a given fiscal year (we do not consider requests received before October 1).  The fiscal year (FY) 2022 open enrollment course will be taught virtually on August 25, 2022.

If GAO has offered you a seat, your agency must finalize your registration by completing both steps of GAO’s advance payment process, i.e., (1) the execution of an interagency agreement AND (2) the use of a government credit card to make advance payment via PAY.GOV. Failure to complete this process (or request an extension) within 8 weeks of your course may result in the loss of your seat. In addition, if your circumstances change after GAO offers you a seat, please email PALCourse@GAO.GOV to decline the seat and free it up for someone else.

Based on the volume of requests received, GAO is no longer accepting requests for the FY 2022 open enrollment course.

Registration for Group Courses

FY 2022 PAL group courses are currently taught virtually and can accommodate up to 35 agency employees for a fee of $3,500.  In the past year, GAO has taught virtual group courses at the Departments of Interior; Homeland Security; Justice; Navy, State, and the Central Intelligence Agency; among others. 

All classes are on a first come, first served basis.  Participants should send an email to PALCourse@GAO.GOV to register for a course.  In the subject line of the email, you must include (Group Course/Date).  All registrations must be received by COB, Saturday, October 30, 2021.  See below for a complete course outline.  Only one POC from each agency can register their group.  Confirmed registrations will only be sent to the agency POC. 

Based on the volume of requests received, GAO is no longer accepting requests for FY 2022 group courses. 

If your circumstances change after GAO has confirmed your attendance, please email PALCourse@GAO.GOV to decline the offer and free it up for someone else.

FY 2022 Group Course Schedule: ​​​​

  • November 10, 2021
  • November 16, 2021
  • December 1, 2021
  • December 7, 2021
  • December 16, 2021
  • January 11, 2022
  • January 19, 2022
  • January 27, 2022
  • February 10, 2022
  • February 15, 2022
  • February 23, 2022
  • March 8, 2022
  • March 16, 2022
  • March 24, 2022
  • April 7, 2022
  • April 26, 2022
  • May 11, 2022
  • May 25, 2022
  • June 15, 2022
  • June 30, 2022
  • July 12, 2022
  • July 21, 2022
  • August 9, 2022
  • August 17, 2022
  • September 14, 2022

Course Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. Constitution
    2. Major Statutes
    3. Key Concepts
    4. Appropriations Law Framework
  2. Availability of Appropriations: Purpose
    1. The Purpose Statute
    2. Purpose Three-Step Analysis
  3. Availability of Appropriations: Time
    1. Time Limitations
    2. Duration of Appropriation Availability
    3. The Bona Fide Needs Rule
    4. Account Closing Law
  4. Availability of Appropriations: Amount
    1. Antideficiency Act
    2. Impoundment Control Act
    3. Miscellaneous Receipts Statute
  5. Recording Obligations and Inter- and Intra-agency Transactions
  6. Resources
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