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Appropriation Lifecycle


Alternate Definition

A term used to describe the periods and uses of appropriation categories (RDT&E, Procurement, MILCON, O&M, MILPERS). This is a critical part of fiscal/appropriations law, as appropriations can only be used for specific purposes depending on the period of the appropriation lifecycle.

General Information

Each appropriation category has three distinct periods during its lifecycle: current period, expired period, and cancelled period.  Below is a description of each period, including the timing of each period and possible uses of appropriated funds during that period.
Current Period: This period, also known as period of availability, is the initial period for appropriated funds that occurs once funds have been appropriated by Congress for execution.  During this period, funds are available for new obligations, obligation adjustments, expenditures, and outlays.  The current period varies by appropriation category.  O&M and MILPERS appropriations have a one year current period; RDT&E appropriations have a two year current period; Procurement appropriations have a three year current period (Procurement for Navy Shipbuilding/Conversion has a five year current period), and MILCON appropriations have a five year current period. 
Expired Period: This period takes place after the current period for each appropriation.  During this period, funds are available for obligation adjustments, expenditures, and outlays (but no new obligations).  Whereas the current period duration varies per appropriation, the expired period duration (five years) is the same for all appropriations.
Cancelled Period: This period takes place after the five-year expired period for each appropriation.  Regardless of appropriation category, funds are unavailable for obligations, obligation adjustments, expenditures, and outlays.  Since Program Offices cannot use appropriated funds in the cancelled period to pay legitimate invoices, Programs Offices can only consider use of appropriated funds within the same appropriation account that are in the current period.  Although funds within the cancelled period can no longer be utilized by Program Offices, the funds can still be tracked for accounting and financial execution purposes.
The appropriation lifecycle is of significant importance to all members of acquisition teams, specifically those within Financial Management and Program Management.  Whereas Financial Management personnel must complete cost estimation, budget formulation (for budget submissions), and budget execution to ensure funds are used appropriately per period, Program Management personnel must ensure adequate funding is available per year and phase of the acquisition lifecycle to accomplish the Program's objectives.


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