Definition of Budget Authority
Broad responsibility conferred by Congress that empower government agencies to spend federal funds. Congress can specify criteria for the spending of these funds. For example, it may stipulate that a given agency must spend within a specific year, number of years, or any time in the future. The basic forms of budget authority are; appropriations, authority to borrow, contract authority, and authority to obligate and expend offsetting receipts and collections. The period of time during which Congress makes funds available may be specified as one-year, multiple years or no year. The available amount may be classified as either definite or indefinite; a specific amount or an unspecified amount can be made available. Authority may also be classified as current or permanent. Permanent authority requires no current action by Congress.