Borrowing Authority

The term borrowing authority is a form of budget authority as defined in section 3 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. It is the authority granted by law to Federal Agency or some other entity of the Federal Government to enter into legal obligation to repay amounts provided for it to spend.

Though the GAO Glossary does not have an specific entry for the term, it is found under the broader heading of “budget authority” on page 21 of the Glossary of Terms and Definitions Used in the Congressional Budget Process. 

Section 3 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974

Borrowing Authority

The term “borrowing authority” may be found in section 3(2) (CBA) where it is defined as a form of budget authority: 

(2)  Budget authority and new budget authority.–

(A) In general.–The term “budget authority” means the authority provided by Federal law to incur financial obligations, as follows:


(ii) borrowing authority, which means authority granted to a Federal entity to borrow and obligate and expend the borrowed funds, including through the issuance of promissory notes or other monetary credits;

Glossary of Terms and Definitions Used in the Congressional Budget Process

(September 2005)

Borrowing Authority (GAO)

The term “borrowing authority does not have a separate entry in the GAO Glossary, but it does have the following description in the “budget authority” definition.

Borrowing Authority

Budget authority enacted to permit an agency to borrow money and then to obligate against amounts borrowed. It may be definite or indefinite in nature. Usually the funds are borrowed from the Treasury, but in a few cases agencies borrow directly from the public. (See also Debt, Federal.)

[Page 21]


Bases of Budgeting


Bowsher v. Synar