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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Authority and Funding

go through page Purpose / Why / How / Go /No Go / Go On

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navigate in the page--Purpose

This is the last step in developing a proposal to obtain authority and funding.

Keep in mind your primary purpose is to help solve problems.

To get consent from the public (through congressional authority and funding) to proceed with the proposal.

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navigate in the page--Why?

Without this step, the entire decision process is moot. Without authority, Reclamation cannot proceed. Without funding, Reclamation cannot provide the resources to act in a given area. Funding and authority are tools which express what decisions have been made, which actions are supported, and how decisions are carried out.

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navigate in the page--How

Authority and funding depend on Congress.


Either the Administration or an individual senator or representative can propose legislation to authorize a program, study, or activity. The authorization can be limited to studying a problem and potential solutions rather than implementing a solution, with the implementation to be determined and submitted for a separate authorization. Authorization may be under the umbrella of a larger program.


You have a preliminary definition of what the problem is, how much it will take to solve it, and how important it is in the overall scheme of Reclamation activities and role. Funding determinations will now be made through the Federal budget process.

Knowing fund allocation procedures will help you determine how and when funds should be spent and help find ways to provide flexible responses to change. Educating managers at all levels helps managers understand what you are doing with the current budget and incorporating these approaches in future budgets.

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navigate in the page--Go/No Go *definition

Everything that Reclamation does is controlled by authority and funding.

With Authorization and Funding

These authorizations and funds now spell out what the Congress, the Administration, and ultimately, the American taxpayers expect you to do. If the situation changes significantly or if you determine that other actions are needed, go back through the Commissioner's Office to the committees that appropriated the money and propose a new course of action. Be sure to justify this change--explain why things have changed and why you think it would be better to do something else.

Without Authorization

Not getting authority (either under a general or specific program) means that the Congress and the Administration have decided that there is no Reclamation role. Risk communicating with decisionmakers--ask direct questions about why the authorization was not granted.

Without Funding

If a specific activity or program was authorized but not funded, you might seek outside funding to show the support for continuing. Documenting the problems and issues will provide a paper trail for future efforts. Other participants may ask the Congress for additional funds or provide outside funding.

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navigate in the page--Go On

Be flexible to change with changes in congressional philosophies, priorities, and methods.

PreviousEstimating a Budget

GeneralBefore Funding

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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.