Element: Unobligated Balance

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Data Element Name Category Legislation
Unobligated Balance Account Information DATA Act


The DATA Act requires agencies to report unobligated balances from each of their appropriations accounts. Unobligated balances are published in the President’s Budget; SF 133 Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources; and, in other government-wide publications.


By way of context, the unexpired phase of an appropriations account is the time when the account can incur obligations. Appropriations accounts cannot incur obligations during the expired and canceled phases.

Congress often provides funds that agencies must obligate in one year (starting October 1 and ending September 30). At the end of the year, the appropriations account shifts to the expired phase and can no longer incur obligations. When Congress provides agencies with authority to obligate funds over two or more years, the funds left over at the start of the following year(s) for those appropriations accounts in the unexpired phase are called unobligated balances brought forward, October 1.

Unobligated balance and other financial data elements are defined in OMB Circular A-11. The definitions for all financial data elements typically appear in Section 20, Terms and Concepts, and Appendix F, Format of SF 132, SF 133, Schedule P and SBR.

The Department of the Treasury publishes a crosswalk showing all Standard General Ledger accounts (used in agency financial systems) that crosswalk to each line in OMB’s SF 133 Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources. The crosswalk appears in the Treasury Financial Manual Volume I Part 2 Supplement, Section V: Crosswalks to Standard External Reports for Fiscal 2015 Reporting.

Recommended Data Element Name Recommended Definition
Unobligated Balance Unobligated balance means the cumulative amount of budget authority that remains available for obligation under law in unexpired accounts. The term “expired balances available for adjustment only” refers to unobligated amounts in expired accounts.
Additional detail is provided in Circular A‐11.


OMB Circular A-11, Section 20, Terms and Concepts and Appendix F, Format of SF132, SF133, Schedule P, and SBR. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/assets/a11_current_year/s20.pdf

Treasury Financial Manual supplement United States Government Standard General Ledger, Part 2 Fiscal 2021 Reporting, Section V: Crosswalks to Standard External Reports for Fiscal 2021 Reporting. https://tfm.fiscal.treasury.gov/v1/supplements/ussgl/ussgl_part_2.html