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    May 7, 2018

    Government Appropriations and Shutdowns

    Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a Government shutdown and the anxiety that comes with it. But do you know what leads to such a serious financial situation?

    AdobeStock_47195820_Government SpendingIn this post, I’ll briefly explain the three types of appropriations and how each affects the way the Government is funded. These include:

    1. Appropriation or omnibus spending bill
    2. Supplemental appropriation bill
    3. Continuing resolution (CR)

    1. Appropriation or omnibus spending bill

    Generally speaking, an appropriation is a bill that sets aside money for government agencies and departments. A regular appropriations bill is supposed to fund the government for the entire fiscal year (1 Oct – 30 Sep), and is actually a collection of 12 separate bills. You’ll sometimes hear this referred to as an omnibus spending bill since it is a collection of two or more bills.

    2. Supplemental appropriation bill

    The second type of bill is a supplemental appropriation which is used to add funding to already funded programs or add funding for unforeseen issues such as war or natural disasters.

    3. Continuing resolution

    The third kind of bill that we have heard a lot about in the past several years is the continuing resolution (CR). A CR continues existing appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year for a specified period of time and is used when a regular appropriations bill does not cover the entire fiscal year.

    This type of bill has been used extensively because the last time Congress passed all of its required regular appropriations on time was in 1997. Operating under a CR can have several negative impacts on long-term programs and can greatly affect the day-to-day operations of the government, especially in the final days leading up to the expiration of the CR.


    Fortunately, an omnibus spending bill was signed by the President on March 23, 2018, which funds the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Let’s hope that we don’t start fiscal year 2019 under another CR, but if history is an indicator, the chances are very high!

    David Morrison, PMP®, CSM®

    Dave is Chief Delivery Officer of Markon's Civilian market. He provides project management, financial consulting, and IT services to clients across the Intelligence Community. Dave earned an MBA from Georgetown University and a BS in Finance from the University of Delaware.

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