GAO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (September 2005)


A term that usually modifies either “spending,” “appropriation,” or “amount.” “Discretionary spending” refers to outlays from budget authority that is provided in and controlled by appropriation acts. “Discretionary appropriation” refers to those budgetary resources that are provided in appropriation acts, other than those that fund mandatory programs. “Discretionary amount” refers to the level of budget authority, outlays, or other budgetary resources (other than those which fund mandatory programs) that are provided in, and controlled by, appropriation acts. (See also Appropriation Act; Appropriations under Forms of Budget Authority under Budget Authority; One-Year Authority under Duration under Budget Authority; Gramm-Rudman-Hollings. For a contrast, see Entitlement Authority; Mandatory.)

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