Statement of Disbursements
Glossary of Terms
Appropriation: A law of Congress that provides an agency with budget authority. An appropriation allows the agency to incur obligations and to make payments from the U.S. Treasury for specified purposes. Appropriations are definite (a specific sum of money) or indefinite (an amount for "such sums as may be necessary").
Congress passes 13 annual appropriation acts, as well as supplemental appropriation acts, each year. These appropriation acts provide budget authority to obligate and expend funds from the U.S. Treasury for specific purposes. The House appropriation is contained in one of 13 acts named the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill.
There are several kinds of Appropriations:
- Annual or Single Year Appropriation
- Annual Appropriations (also called fiscal year or 1-year appropriations) are made for a specified fiscal year and are available for obligation only during the fiscal year for which made. Funds expire after one year and are no longer available to incur new obligations;
- Annual Appropriations retain the fiscal year identity and remain available for recording, adjusting and liquidating existing obligations and liabilities previously incurred;
- Funds cancel two years after expiration and are no longer available for obligation or expenditure for any purpose and are returned to the U.S. Treasury.
- Multi-Year Appropriation
- Multiple Year Appropriations are available for obligation for a definite period in excess of one fiscal year. The House alternates each fiscal year between 15-month and 27-month multi-year funding. Funds expire based on the extended period of availability and are no longer available to incur new obligations;
- Multiple Appropriations retain the fiscal year identity for the extended period and remain available for recording, adjusting and liquidating existing obligations and liabilities previously incurred;
- Funds cancel two years after expiration and are no longer available for obligation or expenditure for any purpose and are returned to the U.S. Treasury.
- Revolving Fund — Funds authorized by specific provisions of law to finance a continuing cycle of business-type operations. Receipts are credited directly to the revolving fund as offsetting collections and are available for expenditure without further action by Congress.
- No Year Appropriations — Appropriations available for obligations for an indefinite period of time without fiscal year limitation. They are available until they are used up.
- Expired Appropriation — An appropriation or fund account in which the balance is no longer available for incurring new obligations because the time available for incurring such obligations has expired. Funds may still be available for the recording and/or payment (liquidation) of obligations properly incurred.
- Closed Appropriation (Canceled) — An appropriation or fund account in which the balance has been closed or canceled and is no longer available for obligation or expenditure for any purpose.
Allowance: See Members' Representational Allowance.
Authorization: During each session of Congress, the Committee on House Administration authorizes funds for Special and Select Committees to support the official business of the House. These funds are available for expenditures and receipts from January 3 of one year through January 2 of the following year.
Budget Object Code: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11 provides guidance on preparing the budget submission in the President's Budget and instructions on budget execution. Included in this guidance is the object class structure.
Object Classes are categories or accounting identifiers used to code financial obligations according to the nature of the services or items purchased by the federal government. These two digit codes are standard classifications used throughout the federal government. Sub-classifications, referred to as budget object codes, are four digit codes established by individual agencies to best reflect the nature of their transactions. Obligations need to be classified by the initial purpose for which they are incurred, rather than for the end services or products provided.
Committee Authorization: See Authorization.
Committees' Congressional Handbook: The guidelines established by the Committee on House Administration that assist Committee Chairs in determining whether expenses are reasonable and reimbursable and provide them with the authority and flexibility to manage the committee's budget. As used in the Handbook, "ordinary and necessary" means reasonable expenditures in support of official committee business that are consistent with all applicable federal laws, rules of the House of Representatives and regulations of the Committee on House Administration.
A copy of the manual can be found on the Committee on House Administration's website.
DO: Refers to a duplication of above information. Shorthand for "ditto."
Equipment: Obligations for the purchase of personal property of a durable nature (property that normally may be expected to have a period of service of a year or more after being put into use without material impairment of its physical condition).
Ethics Manual: The guidelines established by the Committee on Ethics that provide guidance regarding ethical rules and standards of conduct. This document also describes the operation and role of the Committee in administering and enforcing applicable laws, rules and standards. The manual also provides guidance to Members and staff on the use of the Members' Representational Allowance and franking privileges. A copy of the manual is located on website of the Committee on Ethics.
Fiscal Year: The federal government's fiscal year beginning on October 1 and ending on September 30 of the following year.
Franked Mail: Postage expenses of specific pieces of mail sent out by Members are reimbursable in accordance with the regulations contained in the Members' Congressional Handbook.
Franking Manual (Redbook): The regulations issued by the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards govern the proper use of the franking privilege. A copy of the manual is located on www.house.gov under the Committee on House Administration.
Franking privileges: The ability to send mail by one's signature rather than by postage.
Fund: An account or set of accounts related to a particular appropriation the agency has with the U.S. Treasury to record financial transactions for obligation, expenditure or collection of moneys.
General Services Administration Federal Rent: A Member's district office rent and related services located in federal buildings controlled by the General Services Administration. Leases may not extend beyond the Member's elected term.
General Fund Receipts: Accounts credited with all receipts which are not earmarked by law for a specific purpose. General fund receipts consist primarily of internal revenue collections, which include income, excise, estate, gift and employment taxes. The remainder consists of: customs duties and a large number of miscellaneous receipts, including fees for permits and licenses, fines, penalties and forfeitures; interest and dividends; rentals; royalties; sale of government property; and the return of monies paid to, but not due, the recipient; compensation for loss of or damage to property; and other recoveries and refunds.
Gifts to United States for Reduction of Public Debt by House Members (salary): Receipts deposited into the General Fund at the U.S. Treasury. The designation itemizes the contributions of individual Members who donated funds from their personal salaries to the reduction of the public debt. Members' Representational Allowances are not used for these contributions.
Habitation Expense: Minor, minimal expenses incurred for decorating offices (pictures, welcome mats, etc.). This category includes furniture items such as chairs, tables, etc., which cost less than $500. Furniture that costs more than $500 and less than $25,000 should appear under the expense category or budget object code for furniture and fixtures less than $25,000.
Legislative Year: The House's 12 month period beginning on January 3 and ending on January 2 of the following year. Members of Congress and Special and Select Committees are authorized funding on a legislative year basis.
Local Transportation: Charges for taxi, subway or bus travel. Parking and toll charges when away from the official duty station are also included under this category.
Members' Representational Allowance:
The Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) is the budget authorized by the Committee on House Administration for each Member of Congress in support of the conduct of offical and representational duties to the district from which elected.
Authorization and Funding
- The Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA) is intended for individual member offices’ expenditures and receipts during a single legislative year. The MRA is funded through fiscal year appropriations and authorized annually by the Committee on House Administration (CHA). It is non-transferable between legislative years.
- While the MRA is authorized on a legislative year (January 3 – January 2), it is funded through annual fiscal year (October 1 – September 30) appropriations. For example, LY07 (1/3/07 – 1/2/08) was funded with FY07 (10/1/07 – 9/30/07) and FY08 (10/1/07 – 1/2/08) appropriations. There is no authorized common pool of funds for offices to use if they exceed their MRA.
- Any unexpended MRA appropriated balance remaining at the end of the fiscal year is available for two additional fiscal years before being returned to the U.S. Treasury as part of returned FY appropriations. For example, FY 2010 appropriations (10/1/09 — 9/30/10) will be returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/12. During FY 2010, FY 2008 and 2009 appropriations were still available to use toward a valid expenditure. During FY 2010, FY 2007 appropriations were no longer available for use. These appropriations were returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/09.
- When the original FY appropriations that funded the MRA are returned to the U.S. Treasury (and no longer available for use), the MRA is still available for use. However, the oldest available fiscal year appropriations are used if a valid expenditure is submitted after the original appropriation has been returned to the U.S. Treasury. For example, LY 2004 (1/3/04 — 1/2/05) funds were funded by FY 2004 and 2005 appropriations. However, both FY appropriations were returned to Treasury and no longer available for use. If an office has remaining funds of $50,000 in LY 2004 and a valid expense for that year is identified on October 2, 2009, the expense will be charged to LY 2004 and FY 2008 because the MRA does not cancel and the FY 2008 appropriation is still available for use.
- At the end of the fiscal year, unspent MRA appropriated funds remain available for preapproved and obligated expenses for two additional fiscal years before being returned to the U.S. Treasury.
LY vs. FY
- Legislative Year — January 3 through January 2 of the following year.
- Fiscal Year — October 1 through September 30 of the following year.
Fiscal Year Impact
- While the MRA is authorized on a Legislative Year, the source of these funds is through annual Fiscal Year appropriations. For example, LY07 (1/3/07 – 1/2/08) was funded with FY07 (1/3/07 – 9/30/07) and FY08 (10/1/07 – 1/2/08) appropriations.
- Fiscal Year (FY) appropriations are available for obligations, expenditures and receipts for services provided from October 1 of one year until September 30 of the following year.
- It is the FY appropriations that are returned to the U.S. Treasury not the MRA. The MRA is the spending allowance that is funded through FY appropriations.
- In accordance with Section 102a, Title 2 of the U.S. Code, any unexpended appropriations balances subject to disbursement by the Chief Administrative Officer "shall be withdrawn...as of September 30 on the second fiscal year following the period or year for which provided."
- For example, FY 2010 appropriations (10/1/09 – 9/30/10) will be returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/12. FY 2008 and 2009 appropriations are still available for use. During FY 2007 appropriations were canceled and are no longer available for use. These appropriations were returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/09.
LY and FY Example
- When the original FY appropriations that funded the MRA are returned to the U.S. Treasury (and no longer available for use), the MRA is still available for use. However, the oldest available fiscal year appropriations are used if a valid expenditure is submitted after the original appropriation has been returned to the U.S. Treasury.
- For example, LY 2004 (1/3/04 – 1/2/05) funds were funded by FY 2004 and 2005 appropriations. However, both FY appropriations were returned to Treasury and no longer available for use. If an office has remaining funds of $50,000 in LY 2004 and a valid expense for that year is identified on October 2, 2009, the expense will be charged to LY 2004 and FY 2008 because the MRA does not cancel and the FY 2008 appropriation is still available for use.
Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) Calculation:
The total amount of each Member’s 2010 Representational Allowance is the sum of the following three component’s amounts:
- Clerk-hire (personnel compensation) – This amount is the same for all Members. For 2010 this amount is $944,671.
- Official expenses – This amount varies for each Member and is based on the sum of the following subcomponents:
- A base amount of $256,574
- The dollar equivalent of 64 x the rate per mile multiplied by the mileage between the District of Columbia and the furthest point in the Member’s district, according to the Rand McNally Standard Highway Mileage Guide, plus ten percent. The following rates per mile apply:
Under 500 miles $0.96 At least 500 but less than 750 miles $0.86 At least 750 but less than 1,000 miles $0.71 At least 1,000 but less than 1,750 miles $0.61 At least 1,750 but less than 2,250 miles $0.51 At least 2,250 but less than 2,500 miles $0.48 At least 2,500 but less than 3,000 miles $0.43 3,000 miles or more $1.32
- In no case, shall this amount be less than $6,200.
- The dollar equivalent of 2,500 square feet multiplied by the applicable General Services Administration (GSA) rental rate. This rate is based on the rental rate charged by GSA to Federal Agencies and departments located in counties and metropolitan areas located (in whole or in part) in the Member’s district.
- Official Mail – The amount of this component varies for each Member based on the following formula:
- Not more than the product of 3 times the single-piece rate applicable to first class mail and the number (as determined be the Postmaster General) of addresses (other than business delivery stops) in the Member’s congressional district.
- The Committee has set the amount at 45% of this calculation.
Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) Rules
- The MRA may only be used for official and representational expenses.
- A Member may expend personal funds in support of his official and representational duties.
- The MRA may not be used to pay for any expenses related to activities or events which are primarily social in nature.
- The MRA may not pay for personal expenses.
- The MRA may not pay for campaign expenses.
- The MRA may not pay for political expenses.
- The MRA may not pay for committee expenses.
- Committee resources may not pay for a Member's official and representational expenses.
- Campaign funds may not pay for a Member's official and representational expenses.
- A Member may not maintain, or have maintained for his or her use, an unofficial office account for the purpose of defraying or reimbursing ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in support of a Member's official and representational duties.
- A Member may not accept from any private source in kind support having monetary value for an official activity.
- Only appropriated funds, not personal or unofficial funds, may be used to pay for mail sent under the frank.
- Each Member is personally responsible for the payment of any official and representational expenses incurred that exceed the provided MRA or are incurred but are not reimbursable under these regulations.
- Unless specifically authorized by an applicable provision of federal law, House Rules or Committee Regulations, no Member, relative of the Member or anyone with whom the Member has a professional or legal relationship may directly benefit from the expenditure of the MRA.
Member's Congressional Handbook: The guidelines established by the Committee on House Administration that govern all expenditures from the MRA and assist Members in determining whether expenses are reimbursable. As used in the Handbook, "ordinary and necessary" means reasonable expenditures in support of official and representational duties to the district from which elected that are consistent with all applicable federal laws, rules of the House of Representatives and regulations of the Committee on House Administration. A copy of the manual can be found on the Committee on House Administration's website.
Miscellaneous Receipts: See General Fund Receipts.
Obligations: A formal order legally committing the federal entity to ultimately pay a future liability.
Other services: Obligations for contractual services including training. For example, Members may contract with firms or individuals only for general, non-legislative, office services (e.g. equipment maintenance, systems integration, data entry, staff training, photography, custodial services, educational expenses, interpretation and translation services) for
a specific, limited period not to exceed the Member's term.
Personnel compensation: Compensation directly related to duties performed for the government by federal civilian employees, military personnel and non-federal personnel. It includes regular salaries and wages, as well as other payments that become part of the employee's basic pay. Also included are the salaries and wages paid to an employee while on annual, sick or other paid leave; lump sum payments to an employee upon separation; and other payments above the basic rate of pay, such as overtime compensation.
Personnel benefits: Benefits for currently employed federal civilian, military and non-federal personnel. This includes the government's shares of an employee's retirement, life insurance, health insurance benefits, accident compensation and Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes. Also included are payments to finance the fiduciary insurance costs of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and payments to the Civil Service Retirement Thrift Investment Board; expenditures for the Transit Benefit & Student Loan Reimbursement programs; benefits to former employees of the U.S. House of Representatives or their survivors; and gratuities and payments to the unemployment trust fund.
Printing and reproduction: Printed materials produced by the Member which are reimbursable in accordance with the Franking Regulations. Reimbursable printing and production expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Newsletters, postal patron mailings, mass mailings, notices of town hall meetings or notices of personal appearance of the Member at an official event
- Administrative papers (casework tracking forms, personnel record forms, etc.)
- Legislative papers (bills, drafts, summaries, amendments, etc.)
- Business cards for Members and their employees
- Stuffing, sealing and associated expenses relating to printing and sending official mail
Charges for printing and reproduction (e.g., photocomposition, photography, blueprinting, photostatting and microfilming) and the related composition and binding operations performed by the Government Printing office, other agencies or other units of the same agency, as well as commercial printers or photographers are included under this category. This also includes all common processes of duplicating obtained on either a contractual or reimbursable basis; charges for publication of notices, advertisements and radio and television time; and specially printed standard forms and printed letterhead and envelopes.
Receipts: Collections by government entities, including gifts and donations, which may or may not, depending on legislation, be available for general or specific use by the collection entity.
Rent, Communication, Utilities: Payments for the use of land, structures or equipment owned by others and charges for communication and utility services; General Services Administration (GSA) rental of space and rent related services; a non-federal source for rental of space, land and structures; and information technology, utilities and miscellaneous charges are included under this category.
Charges for the rental of district office space owned by either the federal government (usually GSA) or a non-federal source; communication and utility services and House-owned equipment; and Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery activities of the Chief Administrative Officer are included under this category. Charges for rental of transportation equipment are excluded.
Revolving Fund: Funds authorized by specific provisions of law to finance a continuing cycle of operations in which outlays generate receipts and the receipts are available for outlay without further action by Congress. They are classified as (a) public enterprise funds where receipts come primarily from sources outside the government and (b) intragovernmental funds where receipts come primarily from other appropriations or funds. These accounts are usually designated as "no-year" accounts, i.e. they are without limitation as to period of availability for outlay. Examples of revolving funds are the House Services and Stationery Revolving Funds.
Service Dates: The date goods were provided or services were rendered to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Shared Employee: An employee who is paid by more than one employing authority of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Statement of Disbursements: A quarterly public report issued by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House (CAO). The document is used to report all receipts and expenditures of the U.S. House of Representatives. This document is published within 60 days of the last day of the quarter. The issuance of the SOD satisfies the law requirement found in 2 USC 104a.
Public Law (in general)
- Commencing with the semiannual period beginning on July 1, 1964 and ending on December 31, 1964 and for each semiannual period thereafter, the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives shall compile and, not later than sixty days following the close of the semiannual period.
- Submit to the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively and make available to the public a detailed report containing a detailed statement, by items, of the manner in which appropriations and other funds available for disbursement by the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, have been expended during the semiannual period covered by the report.
- In general, not later than 60 days after the last day of each semiannual period, the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives shall submit to the House of Representatives, with respect to that period, a detailed, itemized report of the disbursements for the operations of the House of Representatives. The report required shall include: (1) the name of each person who receives a payment from the House of Representatives; (2) the quantity and price of any item furnished to the House of Representatives; (3) a description of any service rendered to the House of Representatives, together with a statement of the time required for the service and the name, title and amount paid to each person who renders the service; (4) a statement of all amounts appropriated to or received or expended by the House of Representatives and any unexpended balances of such amounts.
- Letter of Submittal — The CAO Letter of Submittal to the Speaker is a letter stating the SOD is ready for release to the public per 2 USC 104a. Each Statement of Disbursements of the House begins with a CAO Letter of Submittal. It is located on page III of each volume.
- Table of Contents — The SOD Table of Contents is a list of the House entities contained in the SOD and is organized in alphabetical order.
- Statement of Accountability for Appropriations and Other Funds (SOA) — This section summarizes both appropriated and other funds (non-appropriated) receipt and disbursement financial activity for the House during a given quarter.
- Summary of Transactions by Appropriations — This section summarizes the appropriated and other funds (non-appropriated) receipt and disbursement financial activity by fund and fiscal year for the House during a given quarter. The Summary of Transactions by Appropriations show various years based on the nature of the appropriation. The House maintains single (displaying three available years) and multi-year appropriations (displaying four or five available years depending on the time of the year) and no year or revolving funds (displaying one year of availability). In addition to the summarized net financial activity, the section provides the beginning funds available and ending unexpended balances for the quarter.
- Summary of General Fund Receipts and Gifts to the United States for Reduction of the Public Debt — This section summarizes receipts that were received and deposited to the General Fund at Treasury. It also itemizes the contributions of individual Members who donated funds from their personal salaries to the reduction of the public debt. Member Representational Allowances are not used for these contributions.
- SOD Body — The office by office expenditure summary and detail section is compiled from an office's Monthly Financial Statement. Each House office has an expenditure section in the SOD. This section includes all receipts and expenditures of the named office for the quarter.
- Member of Congress Mass Mail Information —Public Law 104-197 § 311 requires the reporting of unsolicited mailings of substantially identical content to 500 or more persons in a session of Congress. The law requires the SOD report the total pieces and total costs of mailings for each Member per quarter.
- Members' Representational Allowance: This section lists each current Representatives' Members Representational Allowance (MRA) and describes the calculation and listing of the current year's MRA.
- Alphabetical Index of House Officers and Employees — This section is an alphabetized list of House Officers and Employees and the page or pages on which each name appears.
Components of SOD Body
Each House office has an expenditure summary and detail section in the SOD which is compiled from an office's Monthly Financial Statement. This section includes all receipts and expenditures of the named office for the quarter.
For general purposes, the Leadership offices are usually listed first, followed by the Officers of the House, the Member offices and Committee offices.
Each office section includes the following information:
- Office Name;
- MRA, Authorization or Fiscal Year;
- Expenditure Summary by the two digit Object Code for quarter and year-to-date;
- Transaction Date — The date the financial transaction was entered into the House Financial System;
- Transaction Code — The unique transaction identifier. This number helps the CAO Finance Office to identify individual transactions within the House Financial System. The two digits listed before the voucher number (usually an alpha and numeric combination such as P1, S1, etc.) are "internal" financial transaction codes. A number is assigned for each financial transaction;
- Transaction Number — The number assigned to a transaction for identification and tracking purposes;
- Payee (Member, Staff or Vendor) — Lists the person and/or vendor receiving the expenditure from the House of Representatives as a result of goods provided and/or services rendered;
- Service Dates — Lists the date goods were provided or services were rendered to the House of Representatives;
- Description — Describes the service received by the House. The CAO Finance Office uses the automated description generated by the budget object code (BOC) to describe the service;
- Quarterly Amount — This amount lists the total expenditures for the specified quarter;
- Year-to-date Amount — This amount lists the total expenditures for the given period. Legislative Year offices — January 3 of the given year up to the current date. Fiscal Year offices — October 1 up to the current date.
Supplies and materials: Obligations for commodities, whether acquired by formal contract or other forms of purchase, that are: ordinarily consumed or expended within one year after they are put into use; converted in the process of construction or manufacture; or used to form a minor part of equipment or fixed property.
Telecommunications charges include the following:
- Telecommunication Service, Equipment and Tolls
- DC/District office or cellular telephone equipment, service and toll charges not obtained through House Information Resources.
- Could include authorized beeper or pager service (older Blackberry devices) and rental charges for telephone equipment, etc. This includes vouchers and purchase orders.
- DC Tel Equipment (Transfer)
- Auto Attendant
- Voice Mailbox
- Avaya (telephone) Charges
- DC Tel Service (Transfer)
- Telephone Lines (includes fax and modem lines)
- DC Tel Tolls (Transfer)
- Cellular Charges (includes BlackBerry combo devices — both data and voice)
- Long Distance (Verizon Business)
- Federal Universal Service Fee (FUSF) Charges
- Directory Assistance Services
- Calling Card
- Blast Fax Long Distance
- Wireless Aircards
- District office Tel Equipment (Transfer)
- DO Equipment Maintenance
- 24-month Payment Plan
- One-Time Manual Charges
- District office Tel Tolls (Transfer)
- Long Distance (Verizon Business)
- Federal Universal Service Fee (FUSF) Charges
- Frame Relay
- National Access Fee (NAF)
Transfer: The U.S. House of Representatives processes transactions, referred to as interfaces, between House offices. The cost of goods and services rendered are charged to Members, Committees and other House offices. The offices providing the goods and services receive credit or revenue for the transfers. These charges are transferred from the House office Service Providers to the recipient House organizations. Transfers include:
- Office supply purchases and flag sales;
- Costs of equipment acquisitions;
- Photography services;
- Graphic services;
- Communications media services;
- Telephone services, equipment and tolls.
Travel: Travel by Members, staff and vendors in support of the official duties for Members of Congress, Committees, Leadership, House Officers and Offices of the House. Ordinary and necessary expenses associated with official travel are reimbursable. Official travel includes local travel and travel away from home overnight to conduct official and representational duties, when returning to the duty station or residence is impractical.
Travel subsistence: Reimbursement for subsistence expenses, not exceeding the high cost limit of the Executive Branch Per Diem rates, incurred while on travel, including charges for lodging and meals. (Member and Committees not subject to per diem limitations)
Voucher: A document which authorizes payment through reference to necessary supporting documentation. Commonly, a voucher is a document that shows goods have been bought or services have been rendered, authorizes payment and indicates the accounting classifications in which these transactions have to be recorded.