Authority for the Continuance of Government Functions During a Temporary Lapse in Appropriations

Headnotes: 

Statutory authority for an agency to incur obligations in advance of appropriations heed not be express, but may be implied from the specific duties that: have been imposed upon, or of authorities that have been invested in, the agency.

The “authorized by law” exception in the Antideficiency Act exempts from that Act’s general prohibition not only those obligations for which there is statutory authority, but also those obligations necessarily incident to initiatives undertaken within the President’s constitutional powers.

A government agency may employ personal services in advance of appropriations only when there is a reasonable and articulable connection between the function to be performed and the safety of human life or the protection of property, and when there is some reasonable likelihood that either or both would be compromised in some degree by delay in the performance of the function in question.

Updated July 9, 2014