Members of Congress On-Demand

The Antideficiency Act


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The government shutdown continues…

  • The Government Shutdown Happened – Beginning Fri 12/21/2018 9:00 PM
  • An upcoming vote will add between $5 and $12 billion for the purposes of building a Border Security wall and funding disaster aid.

Q: What is a government shutdown?

A: Federal government shutdowns occur when spending bills expire, and Congress and the president find themselves at an impasse.

Shutdowns have a constitutional basis, from Article I, Section 9, which says, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

This has been reinforced by the Antideficiency Act, which stems from an 1870 law that has been revised periodically over the years. There is some leeway to continue certain federal activities that are deemed essential.


Temper Tantrums are being alleged now by both sides of the debate, and I can see the reasoning behind the desired narrative.  But Members of Congress have to be more mature instead of resorting to needless character attacks on the President of The United States.  It’s against the rules of both the House and the Senate and it has been a constant since before the shutdown even began.

Antideficiency Act Resources



This act prohibits federal agencies from obligations 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.

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). The reports are to be signed by the agency head. The report to the President is to be forwarded through the Director of OMB. 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, which may be found in OMB Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, § 145 (June 21, 2005). The report is to include all pertinent facts and a statement of all actions taken to address and correct the Antideficiency Act violation (such as administrative discipline imposed, referral to the Justice Department where appropriate, and new safeguards imposed). An agency also should include a request for a supplemental or deficiency appropriation when needed.

What if GAO uncovers a violation but the agency thinks GAO is wrong? The agency must still make the required reports, and must include an explanation of its disagreement.

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 AntideficiencyActReports@gao.gov. GAO will confirm receipt by e-mail.


Send paper copies of reports to:

Antideficiency Act Reports
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Room 7165
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548


For more information about submitting Antideficiency Act reports to GAO, contact Julie Matta, Managing Associate General Counsel, at mattaj@gao.gov or 202-512-4023.

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 AntideficiencyActReports@gao.gov.



Chris Hanrahan

Founder of ESP Tribe and Creator of MOC On-Demand

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