The term “allowances” can be used in different ways. Perhaps the primary use for Congressional budgeting is as a function in the budget resolution. It is Function 920, “Allowances”. It does not include programs or agencies, but instead may be used to reflect proposals that cross multiple budget functions. It can be useful for anything that cannot be easily distributed across functions, though it has been used to obscure what is really happening with numbers in a budget.
An amount included in the President’s budget request or included in a projection in a congressional resolution on the budget to cover possible additional proposals, such as contingencies for programs whose expenditures are controllable only by statutory change and other requirements. As used by Congress in the concurrent resolutions on the budget, an allowance represents a special functional classification designed to include an amount to cover possible requirements. An allowance remains undistributed until the contingency on which it is based occurs; then it is distributed to the appropriate functional classification. For agency budgetary accounting and fund control purposes, an allowance is a subdivision of an allotment. For treatment of undistributed allowances, see function 920 in the table “Outlays by Function and Subfunction” in the Historical Tables of the President’s budget. (For more details on the government accounting definition, see Standard General Ledger Chart of Accounts.) For federal proprietary accounting, an allowance also represents the estimated uncollectible amount of accounts receivable.