Purpose and Scope
The purpose of this Administrative Bulletin is to provide departments with guidance at the start of a fiscal year in which the General Appropriation Act (GAA) is delayed. This guidance clarifies how certain government business should be managed during an interim period between July 1 and the signing into law of the GAA for the fiscal year beginning July 1, to achieve the proper balance between the need for uninterrupted essential government services and operations and the need for prudent fiscal restraint in the absence of an approved budget. Executive Department agencies must adhere to the requirements outlined in this Bulletin. I recommend that other state agencies and the Legislative and Judicial Branches follow these procedures as well.
Conduct Under an Interim Budget
In fiscal years when the GAA is not in place by July 1, it is usual for the General Court to enact and the Governor to sign into law a bill authorizing certain spending prior to enactment of the GAA. This legislation commonly is referred to as an interim budget. Departments will be notified by the Comptroller when an interim budget is in place. This notice will include any particular conditions or restrictions on spending stipulated in the interim budget, together with guidance for departments' compliance with these restrictions.
Departments generally must adhere to the following when managing their activities under an interim budget, in addition to requirements imposed by the General Court.
Departments must assume, absent explicit instruction to the contrary from the Comptroller, that all activity conducted under an interim budget will be subject retroactively to the conditions and restrictions included in the GAA when eventually signed into law. Departments must not undertake any activities which they have reason to believe will not be supported by the relevant appropriations and other provisions of the GAA. In the absence of a report of a Conference Committee on the budget, and where the relevant appropriations and other provisions enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives differ materially, departments must act under their best judgment regarding the likely resolution by a Conference Committee, but should favor the most conservative reasonable prediction of the outcome. Departments should consult with the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F) prior to making significant commitments which would exceed the lowest of the relevant House 1, House, or Senate spending recommendations.
Departments must also recognize that fiscal constraints and policy differences may result in the Governor vetoing or reducing appropriations or other provisions of the GAA as enacted by the General Court when he signs it into law, and must manage obligations accordingly.
Departments must refrain, absent explicit instruction to the contrary from A&F, from making expenditures or binding commitments of funds for new or expanded programs or operations even if they believe these eventually will be funded in the GAA. Obligations and expenditures of funds under an interim budget generally must be confined to those required to maintain the basic levels of services and operations in effect at the close of the prior fiscal year. Increases in rates and other costs that are required by law, previously existing contractual provisions, or other requirements that become effective while an interim budget is in effect are not considered expansion for the purposes of this Bulletin.
Departments generally must not commit to discretionary obligations, and particularly discretionary expenditures, and should delay such activities until after the GAA has been enacted and signed into law. If delay would result in materially increased costs or other serious negative consequences, departments should consult with A&F as necessary.
Departments may not create or backfill positions without authorization from A&F. Hiring generally will be kept to a minimum or delayed until after the GAA has been enacted and signed into law. Departments should exercise the maximum amount of restraint compatible with their ability to maintain essential services and operations in refilling positions which are vacated while an interim budget is in effect. The general restriction in Subsection A on constraint by the GAA applies to all staffing decisions, including the refilling of positions which are vacated while an interim budget is in effect. The general restriction in Subsection B on new or expanded programs applies to net increases in a department's workforce. The general restriction in Subsection C on discretionary spending applies to promotions and other compensation increases which are not mandated by law or previously existing contractual provision.
The Budget Director or the Comptroller from time to time may issue communications which explain more fully the guidance outlined in this Bulletin, including particular requirements, procedures, and approval processes.
A&F Secretary Approval and Effective Date
This Administrative Bulletin published by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance shall be effective as of the date specified below:
Kristen Lepore, Secretary
Effective Date June 28, 2016