Cyclopedia of Congressional Budget Law

Spendout Rate/Outlay Rate


A “spendout rate” or an “outlay rate” means the amounts per a period of time over which budget authority is considered to have become an outlay. Budget authority is the  authorization that Congress gives to Executive Branch agencies, generally, to legally obligate. When such an agency spends an amount and those dollars leave the U.S. Treasury it then is determined to be an “outlay”. Hence an outlay rate is the percentage of the level spent per year. It may be considered a quick spendout rate if, for example, 95% of the amount is spent the first year and the remaining 5% is spent in first out year (the budget year plus one). A longer spend out rate might be little in the first year and a higher percentage farther in the future: For example if none is projected to be spent in the first year, and half is spent in the 4th outyear (budget year plus 4 years), with the remaining fifty percent leaving the treasury in the 5th year, it would be said to have a “zero-zero-zero-50-50” spendout rate, over five years. 

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)

Spendout Rate/Outlay Rate

The rate at which budget authority becomes outlays in a fiscal year. It is usually presented as an annual percentage.

[PAGE 91]

Outlay Rates: The ratio of outlays (actual government disbursements) in a fiscal year relative to new budgetary resources in that fiscal year. In estimating the budget baseline and baseline deficit for their sequestration reports, CBO and OMB use outlay rates for projecting levels of spending resulting from available budget authority.

[The Congressional Budget Process: An Explanation, Appendix J (Glossary), Committee on the Budget of the U.S. Senate, S. Prt. 105-67 (Revised December 1998).]


Spending Committee


Spending Reduction Accounts