The Anti-deficient Act is meant to prevent federal organizations from obligating more funds than they are actually allowed to or spend funds before they have received any funds to spend. Anti-deficiency is defined in the (31 USC § 1341) established by Congress in U.S. Code Title 31 Sections 1341 and 1517. The code states that executive agencies and their subordinates cannot:
- Obligate more funds than are made available to them in an appropriation or in a formal subdivision of funds (allocation, allotment, sub-allotment, or other formal designation of a limitation).
- Make obligations that exceed the amount permitted by agency actions/regulations.
- Obligate funds in advance of receiving an appropriation or allotment.
- 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.
The law also requires that the head of each agency establish an administrative control system to ensure obligations are kept within appropriate levels and enable the agency to fix responsibility for violations.
Agencies that violate the Anti-Deficiency Act must report to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken. Agencies must also transmit a copy of each report to the Comptroller General on the same date the report is transmitted to the President and Congress. 
The three (3) major legal provisions that concern funds execution are the:
- Bona Fide Need Rule
- Anti-deficiency Act
- Misappropriation (also known as the “purpose statute”)
Violations of the Anti-deficiency Act
Violations are subject to sanctions of two types, administrative and penal. The Anti-deficiency Act is the only one of the Title 31, United States Code, fiscal statutes to prescribe penalties of both types.
An officer or employee who violates 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a) (obligate/expend in excess or an advance of appropriation), Section 1342 (voluntary services prohibition), or section 1517(a) (obligate/expend in excess of an apportionment or administrative subdivision as specified in an agency’s regulation) “shall be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office.” In addition, an officer or employee who “knowingly and willfully” violates any of the three provisions cited above “shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both.
AcqLinks and References:
- Website: GAO – Anti-deficiency Background
- Website: U.S. Code Title 31 Section 3101 – Misappropriation
- Website: U.S. Code Title 31 Section 1341 – Anti-deficiency
- Website: U.S. Code Title 31 Section 1502 – Bona Fide Need Rule
- Website: U.S. Code Title 31 Section 1517 – Anti-deficiency