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The Moneyspeak-to-English Dictionary

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 1999 – The president's fiscal 2000 defense budget goes to Congress Feb. 1, and with it will go much media coverage and some confusion.

To help you sort through the process, here are some common budget terms and phrases:

Apportionment -- The Office of Management and Budget distributes funds to federal agencies for obligation. An agency may not obligate more funds than it receives.

Appropriation Bill -- Passed by Congress, this bill tells an agency how much it can spend on a program. When the president signs the bill it becomes the Appropriation Act. The act actually gives the agency the funds to pay its bills.

Authorization Bill -- This provides an agency with the legal authority to operate. It recommends policy guidelines and funding levels and must be passed by Congress. When the president signs the bill it becomes the Authorization Act. The Authorization Act allows the agency to spend money, but does not actually provide funds.

Balanced budget -- A budget in which the money coming in is equal to or greater than the money going out. The U.S. government in fiscal 1998 had its first balanced budget since the Nixon administration.

Budget authority -- The value of the annual new authority to incur obligations.

Budget resolution -- Congressional budget committees come up with this legislation, basically an outline, which determines ceilings for an agency's budget authority and spending outlays. It is not legally binding.

Continuing resolution -- If the appropriation bill is not signed by Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, this legislation allows an agency to continue operating at the previous year's spending level. A continuing resolution has a set expiration date.

Deficit -- What happens when you spend more than you take in during a fiscal year.

DoD budget -- This budget contains funding for DoD programs, including personnel and services. It does not contain funding for Department of Energy security programs.

Fiscal year -- The federal budget cycle. Fiscal 2000 runs from Oct. 1, 1999 to Sept. 30, 2000.

Future Years Defense Program -- Often abbreviated FYDP, this program charts the budget through six years. The fiscal 2000 FYDP, for example, runs through fiscal 2005.

Gross National Product -- The total monetary value of all final goods and services produced in a country during one year.

National Defense Budget -- Drafted by the administration, this budget covers spending requested for DoD, civil defense and Department of Energy national security programs.

Obligations -- A binding agreement with a supplier for goods or services.

Operations and maintenance -- Often abbreviated as O&M, this account funds allocations for maintenance and repair of equipment, utilities, upkeep, training, fuel and spare parts.

Outlays -- Actual expenditures or the net checks issued by an agency.

Real growth or decline -- The growth or decline of a budget after considering inflation. The fiscal 2000 defense budget request seeks the first real growth since 1985.

Topline -- Shorthand for total amount of money available to an agency.

Total obligation authority -- The value of an agency's entire operation for each fiscal year regardless of how it is financed. This dollar figure, for instance, can include proceeds from the sale of items and money available from prior years.

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