Cyclopedia of Congressional Budget Law

Wholly-Owned Government Corporation


A Wholly-Owned Government Corporation is not defined by specified criteria. Instead, such entities are specifically listed in law (see below 31 U.S.C. 9101(3)). These government-owned corporations, though, all have common features in that they operate in a business-like capacity  similar to privately-owned corporations. The primary distinguishing feature are that they are owned and operated entirely by the Federal Government.

Chapter 91 of subtitle VI of Title 31 of the U.S. Code is known generally as the “Government Corporation Control Act”. 

Definition in Section 9101(3) of Title 31 of the U.S. Code

Wholly-Owned Government Corporation

The term “Wholly-Owned Government Corporation” is  not defined with criteria by which an entity may be categorized as such. It is rather defined in 31 U.S.C. 9101(3) as a list of specified entities. It was last amended in the 110th Congress (Pub. L. 110-140, 121 Stat. 1492, 1737, Dec. 19, 2007) when  subparagraph (r) was added. Section 9101(3)of Title 31 reads as follows:

§9101. Definitions

In this chapter—

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(3) “wholly owned Government corporation” means-

(A) the Commodity Credit Corporation.

(B) the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.

(C) the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

(D) the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

(E) Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated.

(F) the Corporation for National and Community Service.

(G) the Government National Mortgage Association.

(H) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

(I) the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation.

(J) the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

(K) the Rural Telephone Bank until the ownership, control, and operation of the Bank are converted under section 410(a) of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 950(a)).

(L) the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

(M) the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when carrying out duties and powers related to the Federal Housing Administration Fund.

(N) the Tennessee Valley Authority.

[(O) Repealed. Pub. L. 104–134, title III, §3117(a), Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321–350 .]

(P) the Panama Canal Commission.

(Q) the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

(R) the International Clean Energy Foundation.

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)

Wholly-Owned Government Corporation

An enterprise or business activity designated by the Government Corporation Control Act of 1945 (31 U.S.C. § 9101) or some other statute as a wholly-owned government corporation. Each such corporation is required to submit an annual business-type statement to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Wholly-owned government corporations are audited by Government Accountability Office (GAO) as required by the Government Corporation Control Act, as amended (31 U.S.C. § 9105), and other laws. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is an example of a wholly- owned government corporation. Budget concepts call for any corporation that is wholly owned by the government to be included on-budget. (For distinctions, see Government-Sponsored Enterprise; Mixed-Ownership Government Corporation; Off- Budget.)

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Exception in Section 401 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974

Wholly-Owned Government Corporation in Section 401 (CBA)

Section 401 (CBA) sets forth a point of order prohibiting the consideration in the House or the Senate that provides contract authority or new entitlement authority unless it is subject to appropriations made at a future time. Certain exceptions to this rule are also set forth, one of which spending associated with wholly-owned government corporations:


Sec. 401.

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(2) Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to new authority described in those subsections to the extent that—

(A) the outlays resulting therefrom are made by an organization which is (i) a mixed-ownership Government corporation (as defined in section 201 of the Government Corporation Control Act), or (ii) a wholly owned Government corporation (as defined in section 101 of such Act) which is specifically exempted by law from compliance with any or all of the provisions of that Act, as of the date of enactment of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985;

[Emphasis added.]

CRS Report on Government Corporations

The following description is from the CRS Report: Federal Government Corporations: An Overview:

The U.S. Code does not provide a single definition of the term “government corporation.” Title 5 of the U.S. Code defines a “government corporation” as “a corporation owned or controlled by the Government of the United States” (5 U.S.C. 103).[6] Meanwhile, the Government Corporation Control Act ((GCCA) 31 U.S.C. 9101-10) states that the term “government corporation” means “a mixed-ownership Government corporation and a wholly-owned government corporation.” It then lists 28 entities—some, like the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, now defunct—as being “government corporations” for the purposes of chapter 91 of Title 31.

In addition to the enumeration of corporations provided in the GCCA, there have been several other listings of corporations available, each different and based upon the definition employed by the compiler. Corporations cover the spectrum from such large, well-known corporations as the United States Postal Service and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to such small, low- visibility corporate bodies as the Federal Financing Bank in the Treasury Department and Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) in the Justice Department.

[CRS Report Footnote #6: This definition holds only for “the purpose of this title,” i.e., Title 5 of the U.S. Code.]

[Federal Government Corporations: An Overview, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report to Congress, RL30365, June 8, 2011.]
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