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Federal Budget Process


Account Structure. Also called Cost Structure or Cost Account Structure. The 18-digit code used on all source documents to identify the fund, project, authority, main, sub, and detail (called the Program and Job number in FFS). Most employees are familiar with these codes because they are used daily in charging their time, travel, purchases, etc. The addition of a 19th digit signifies direct charging to another region.

Activity Plan. An annual plan developed and submitted in conjunction with the program and budget formulation process, which justifies any request for funds.

Allotment. An authorization by the head (or other authorized employee) of an agency to subordinate organizations to incur obligations within a specified amount. Primary allotments of funds are made to projects and activities to provisions contained in the annual appropriation act.

Allowances. Initial allowances serve as target amounts, along with other policy guidance issued to all offices, for use and compliance in formulating budget estimates. Final allowances normally received in November represent final amounts and instructions for use in revising budget estimates for inclusion in the President's budget. Also called Passbacks.

Anti-Deficiency Act. Legislation enacted by Congress to prevent the incurring of obligations in excess of apportioned budget authority. The act also places responsibility within an agency.

Appropriations. An authorization by an act of Congress that permits Federal agencies to incur obligations and to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes.

Budget Justifications. Budget documents included in the President's Budget Request to Congress. Final documents reflect any adjustments resulting from the Congressional Hearing and appropriation process.

Budget Year +1 (BY+1) or Program Year. The fiscal year for which budget estimates are being formulated.

Budget Year +2 (BY+2). The fiscal year beyond the fiscal year for which estimates are being formulated.

Budget Year. The fiscal year for which appropriation requests have been made.

Call Letter (Operating Budget). Initial guidance to managers and staff for formulating their annual Operating Budgets. The Call Letter is the first formal step in the formulation process.

Congressional Budget. A term used by the MP Region that refers inclusively to all appropriated funds and the process lending to that appropriation.

Continuing Resolution (CR). Legislation enacted by Congress to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and/or specific activities to continue in operation until the regular appropriations are enacted. Continuing resolutions are enacted when action on appropriations is not completed by the beginning of the fiscal year.

Current Year. The fiscal year for which operations are currently underway or the budget year for which funds are currently being requested.

Custodial Accounts. Within the Mid-Pacific Region--those accounts managed by one organization on behalf of the entire Region. Normally this is done for administrative expediency.

Distributive Costs. Costs that re accumulated in clearing accounts for further distribution to projects, features, and jobs. Examples include warehousing costs, Indirect Costs, ADP costs, drilling operations, etc.

Federal Financial System (FFS). The accounting system used by the Bureau of Reclamation, most of the Department of the Interior, and many other Federal Government agencies.

Fund Code. A three-digit accounting code used on all source documents to designate the appropriate fund to be charged or credited. The Fund Code is the first three digits of the 18-digit account structure. Each fund code relates to a Treasury appropriation symbol. It is not uncommon to have several fund codes assigned to one appropriation symbol. An example of this is the Working Capital Fund were separate "K" fund codes are assigned for each activity.

Fund Transfer. An official budget process approving the movement of appropriated funds between projects within the same appropriation and within specified limits.

Indirect Costs. Costs incurred in support of accomplishing specific work activities that because of their nature cannot practically be identified and charged direct to a project/program, feature, or job level, and must be distributed to all benefiting activities on an equitable basis. The most common components of indirect costs include administrative services, general training, space, utilities, miscellaneous supplies and materials, etc. This term is often used interchangeably with "overhead."

MRB 2000. Mid-Pacific Region operating budget system. An internal management tool to manage available financial resources.

Object Code. A standard Federal Government-wide classification assigned by code on all source documents to identify the type of expenditure or receipt. The Bureau of Reclamation's code is four digits, and sometimes has an additional two digits for further breakdown. The code is used on all source documents to identify the type of cost, such as personnel costs, travel, rent, utilities, supplies, indirect costs, etc. Sometimes called Object Class.

Operating Budget. Organization based budged used during the current year to distribute and manage funds received through the Congressional Budget (appropriations) process.

Organization Code. A seven-digit code assigned to an organization that is included on all source documents processed through the accounting system. Official organization codes are assigned and maintained by the appropriate personnel office. Sometimes called Cost Center.

Outyears. Budget term referring to years extending beyond the budget year under consideration.

Past Year. The fiscal year most recently completed.

Prevalidation. An action by a delegated authority to certify that funds in a specified amount and for the purpose requested are available for obligation. Delegations are by position and must be documented in an annual supplement to the Reclamation Manual.

Program and Budget System (PABS). The Bureau of Reclamation's automated budget system. PABS provides all Reclamation Offices with a tool for programming and budgeting projects and activities in a standard format, and provides the Commissioner's Office overall control of the official program.

Project Manager. Employee (normally non-supervisory) with delegated responsibility to plan, manage, coordinate, and evaluate one or more specific line item project or activity.

Realignment. Administrative process of adjusting Operating Budget amounts among different Region organizations.

Revolving Funds. Funds authorized by specific provisions of law to finance a continuing cycle of operations in which expenditures generate receipts and the receipts are available for expenditure without further action by Congress.

Source Documents. Refers to the variety of documents that serve as support for accounting transactions. The most common source documents are: purchase orders, receiving reports, travel vouchers, contractor earnings vouchers, journal vouchers, training forms, etc.

Trust Funds. Amounts advanced from non-Federal sources under a trust agreement to provide specified services.

Underfinancing. A general reduction to an appropriation for unanticipated delays in accomplishing the program or performing the work.

Working Capital Fund (WCF). A revolving fund authorized by law for the Bureau of Reclamation's use to efficiently finance support services and equipment for reclamation programs and reimbursable services provided to others. The fund is designed to be self-sustaining.

Year-End Close-Out. A variety of activities associated with "closing" the "books" on fiscal year and finalizing the financial records for that year.