Allotment (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms


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Allotment, an authorization by either the agency head or another authorized employee to his/her subordinates to incur obligations within a specified amount. Each agency makes allotments pursuant to specific procedures it establishes within the general apportionment requirements stated in OMB Circular No. A-11. The amount allotted by an agency cannot exceed the amount apportioned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). An allotment is part of an agency system of administrative control of funds whose purpose is to keep obligations and expenditures from exceeding apportionments and allotments.

The Office of Management and Budget apportions or distributes budgeted amounts to the executive branch agencies, thereby making funds in appropriation accounts (administered by the Treasury Department) available for obligation. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1511–1516. The apportionment system through which budget authority is distributed by time periods (usually quarterly) or by activities is intended to achieve an effective and orderly use of available budget authority, and to reduce the need for supplemental or deficiency appropriations. Each agency then makes allotments pursuant to the OMB apportionments or other statutory authority. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1513(d), 1514. An allotment is a delegation of authority to agency officials that allows them to incur obligations within the scope and terms of the delegation. (Note the distinction in terminology: Congress appropriates, OMB apportions, and the receiving agency allots (or allocates) within the apportionment.)

From Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, Fourth Edition, Chapter 2, GAO-16-464SP, 5.a. Page 2-27 (2016).



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