GAO Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process (September 2005)


A separate financial reporting unit for budget, management, and/or accounting purposes. All budgetary transactions are recorded in accounts, but not all accounts are budgetary in nature. Some accounts do not directly affect the budget but are used purely for accounting purposes. Budget accounts are used to record all transfers within the budget, whereas other accounts (such as deposit fund, credit financing, and foreign currency accounts) are used for accounting purposes connected with funds that are nonbudgetary in nature. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), assigns account identification codes reflecting appropriations as enacted in appropriations laws. Treasury establishes and maintains a system of accounts that provides the basic structure for the U.S. Standard General Ledger Chart of Accounts. (See also Accounts in the President’s Budget; Accounts for Purposes Other Than Budget Presentation; Credit Reform Act Accounts under Federal Credit; Standard General Ledger Chart of Accounts.)


The basic unit of an appropriation generally reflecting each unnumbered paragraph in an appropriation act. An appropriation account typically encompasses a number of activities or projects and may be subject to restrictions or conditions applicable to only the account, the appropriation act, titles within an appropriation act, other appropriation acts, or the government as a whole. (See also Appropriation Rider; Continuing Appropriation/Continuing Resolution; Line Item; Supplemental Appropriation.)

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Account in the President’s Budget: Expenditure/Appropriation and Receipt Accounts Classified by Fund Types