Antideficiency Act Violation


The Antideficiency Act prohibits Federal Employees from obligating funds unless both the amount and purpose of such spending has been approved by Congress in the form of enacted law. An Antideficiency Act Violation occurs when this prohibition is violated, and which includes both administrative and criminal penalties.

No one has ever been prosecuted under the law, though administrative sanctions in the form of suspension and removal have occurred.

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)

Antideficiency Act Violation

Occurs when one or more of the following happens:

  • overobligation or overexpenditure of an appropriation or fund account (31 U.S.C. § 1341(a));
  • entering into a contract or making an obligation in advance of an appropriation, unless specifically authorized by law (31 U.S.C. § 1341(a));
  • acceptance of voluntary service, unless authorized by law (31 U.S.C. § 1342); or
  • overobligation or overexpenditure of (1) an apportionment or reapportionment or
  • amounts permitted by the administrative control of funds regulations (31 U. S.C. 1517(a)).

Once it has been determined that there has been a violation of the Antideficiency Act, the agency head must report all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken to the President and Congress and submit a copy of the report to the Comptroller General. Penalties for Antideficiency Act violations include administrative discipline, such as suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, an officer or employee convicted of willfully and knowingly violating the law shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both (31 U.S.C. §§ 1349, 1350, 1518, and 1519). (See also Administrative Division or Subdivision of FundsAntideficiency ActExpenditure.)

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Antideficiency Act