Bid Protests, Appropriations Law, & Other Legal Work

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Appropriations Law Training


GAO’s Principles of Appropriations Law course acquaints participants with the purposes and principles of federal fiscal law. It blends lecture, case studies, and student participation in a way that engages and challenges participants, while maximizing the exchange of both practical and theoretical information.

GAO’s Course

GAO attorneys teach the Principles of Appropriations Law (PAL) course at (1) GAO headquarters for two open enrollment courses each fiscal year and (2) other federal agencies for group courses about a dozen times each fiscal year. The PAL course is two and a half days; the course runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on days 1 and 2 and from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on day 3. A course outline is below. The course generally qualifies for 17 CPE credits.


Registration for Open Enrollment Courses

Each fiscal year, GAO offers 2 PAL courses on an open enrollment basis at a cost of $500 per seat. For FY 2019, our open enrollment courses will be April 23 – 25, 2019 and August 13 – 15, 2019. GAO enrolls approximately 15 federal employees in each course and begins accepting requests starting October 1st (we do not consider early requests). We typically fill both courses before the end of the month, although a small number of seats may become available through the wait-list process. To submit your request, email on or after October 1, 2018. If your request does not indicate a course preference, we may consider you for either course. If you are offered a seat, your agency must secure your registration by completing an interagency agreement and paying in advance for the course via

Registration for Group Courses

GAO is now accepting requests for its FY 2019 group courses, which can accommodate up to 35 employees at your agency. Because of the high demand for PAL group courses, we anticipate finalizing our FY 2019 course calendar very quickly.

If you wish to be considered for a PAL group course, please submit an email to PALCourse@GAO.GOV by August 31, 2018. Your email should use the subject heading “FY19 PAL GROUP COURSE REQUEST [Insert Your Agency’s Name]” and should include (1) your name and contact information and (2) your preferred months for PAL training. (Please note that is difficult to accommodate course requests before December 2018 because of the need to execute an interagency agreement in advance of a PAL course.)

Once the course is complete, GAO will bill your agency via the Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) system for the $5,000 cost of the course. For courses held outside the Washington, D.C. area, your charges will also include reimbursement for two PAL instructors’ travel expenses. We refer you to GSA’s Travel Resources page to estimate these travel costs as you consider your request.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to Appropriations Law
    1. Constitution and Major Statutes
    2. Annual Budget and Appropriations Process
    3. Budget Execution and Control
    4. Apportionment and Allotment
    5. Obligating and Disbursing Funds
    6. Impoundment
  2. Terminology and Classification
  3. Statutory Construction
  4. Availability of Appropriations: Purpose
    1. Purpose Three-Step Analysis
    2. Necessary Expense Rule
    3. Statutory Purpose Restrictions
    4. Other Available Appropriations
  5. Availability of Appropriations: Amount
    1. Antideficiency Act: Provisions, Exceptions, Sanctions and Applications
    2. Rules Against Augmentation, and the Miscellaneous Receipts Act
  6. Availability of Appropriations: Time
    1. General Rule
    2. Bona Fide Needs Rule
    3. Prohibition on Advanced Payments
    4. Account Closing Law
  7. Obligation of Appropriations
  8. Interagency Transactions