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Antideficiency Act Resources


This act prohibits federal agencies from obligating or expending federal funds in advance or in excess of an appropriation, and from accepting voluntary services.

The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal employees from

  • making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under, any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(A).
  • involving the government in any obligation to pay money before funds have been appropriated for that purpose, unless otherwise allowed by law. 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(B).
  • accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. 31 U.S.C. § 1342.
  • making obligations or expenditures in excess of an apportionment or reapportionment, or in excess of the amount permitted by agency regulations. 31 U.S.C. § 1517(a).

Federal employees who violate the Antideficiency Act are subject to two types of sanctions: administrative and penal. Employees may be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, employees may also be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.

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Reporting Requirements

Once it is determined that there has been a violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 1341(a), 1342, or 1517(a), the agency head "shall report immediately to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken." 31 U.S.C. §§ 1351, 1517(b). In addition, the heads of executive branch agencies and the Mayor of the District of Columbia shall also transmit "[a] copy of each report . . . to the Comptroller General on the same date the report is transmitted to the President and Congress." 31 U.S.C. §§ 1351, 1517(b), as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. No. 108-447, div. G, title II, § 1401, 118 Stat. 2809, 3192 (Dec. 8, 2004).

OMB has issued further instructions on preparing the reports. OMB Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, § 145 (July 10, 2020).

The reporting requirements of the Antideficiency Act apply to all violations, including those that GAO finds. After GAO publishes a decision or opinion concluding that an Antideficiency Act violation occurred, we will contact the relevant agency to ensure a report of the violation. If the agency does not report the violation within a reasonable period, GAO will notify Congress of the violation. Our report will note the agency’s failure to report the violation. B-331295, Sept. 23, 2019.

Additional Information

For more information on the Antideficiency Act's purpose, history, and requirements see Chapter 6, Availability of Appropriations: Amount.

Principles of Federal Appropriations Law: Third Edition, Volume II
GAO-06-382SP, February 1, 2006

Submitting Reports

Agency heads and the Mayor of the District of Columbia must provide a copy of Antideficiency Act reports to the Comptroller General of the United States at the same time they are submitted to the President and Congress.


Send PDF reports to GAO will confirm receipt by e-mail.


For more information about submitting Antideficiency Act reports to GAO, contact Shirley Jones, Managing Associate General Counsel, at or 202-512-8156.

For more information about the Antideficiency Act requirement, see Transmission of Antideficiency Act Reports to the Comptroller General of the United States B-304335, March 8, 2005

For general inquiries about the act, send an e-mail to