GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)


A definite commitment that creates a legal liability of the government for the payment of goods and services ordered or received, or a legal duty on the part of the United States that could mature into a legal liability by virtue of actions on the part of the other party beyond the control of the United States. Payment may be made immediately or in the future. An agency incurs an obligation, for example, when it places an order, signs a contract, awards a grant, purchases a service, or takes other actions that require the government to make payments to the public or from one government account to another. The standards for the proper reporting of obligations are found in section 1501(a) of title 31 of the United States Code. See also OMB Circular No. A-11.

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Object Classification


Obligation Limitation