GAO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (September 2005)

Unfunded Mandate

Federal statutes and regulations that require state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector to expend resources to achieve legislative goals without being provided federal funding to cover the costs.

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104–4 (2 U.S.C. §§ 658– 658g), generally defines intergovernmental and private sector mandates as “any provision in legislation, statute, or regulation that imposes an enforceable duty” but excludes “conditions of federal assistance” and “duties that arise from participation in a voluntary federal program,” among others. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is required to determine whether the costs to the states or private sector of a mandate in legislation reported from a congressional committee exceeds certain statutory thresholds. This determination is included in the cost estimate provided to Congress on that legislation. The act also contains procedures for congressional consideration of proposed legislation that contains mandates whose costs are estimated to be over the thresholds unless the legislation also provides funding to cover those costs.

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Unfilled Customer Orders


Unified Budget