March 4, 2024Published Article

Appropriations and Fiscal Law in an Increasingly Uncertain and Evolving World

The Procurement Lawyer - American Bar Association

The US budgetary process is riddled with challenges that over time have only become more complex. Despite an express congressional desire to return to “regular order” and the best of intentions, what, in theory, should function as a well-oiled machine consistently gets derailed by competing priorities, dynamic world events, polarized political stances, and near-peer adversaries. In fact, with only a few rare exceptions, Congress has not successfully passed a budget on time since the fiscal year (FY) was set back in 1977. These delays cause negative consequences for agencies, government employees, contractors, and the nation writ large.

This article begins with a discussion of how the United States classifies its appropriations and undergoes its budgetary process. Next, it offers a discussion on the challenges associated with the US budgetary process and how fiscal law principles shape government spending. Finally, it provides an overview of the tools contractors can employ during periods of high inflation, authorities agencies use to increase fiscal flexibility, and a brief exploration of what is expected in the near future for the US budget.

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How Fiscal Law Principles Shape US Government Spending
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