Common Budget and Fiscal Terms


Account – A fiscal and accounting entity in which cash and other financial resources are deposited, withdrawn, recorded, and segregated for the purpose of carrying on specific activities. Often used interchangeably with the term “Fund”.

Accrual (or Accrual Basis) – The basis of accounting whereby revenues are recognized when earned and measurable regardless of when collected; and expenses are recorded on a matching basis when incurred. The state uses this basis of accounting as opposed to a Cash-basis, in which expenditures and revenues are recorded when paid or received.

Activity (or Activity Inventory) – A high level description of the nature of the services and the expected results of each budgeted agency. Activity Inventories are “re-casted” after each budget is enacted to show how the activity was funded in the budget.

AFRS (Agency Financial Reporting System) – The accounting system used by Washington state government.

Allotment – An agency's plan of estimated expenditures, revenues, and cash receipts for each month of the biennium. Often referred to an agency’s “Spending Plan”.

Appropriation – A legislative authorization for an agency to make expenditures for specific purposes from designated resources available or estimated to be available during a specified time period.

Carry-Forward Budget (Carry-Forward Level) – An agency’s “base budget” used as a starting point in an agency’s budget request. It is the biennialized costs in the current budget of decisions already recognized in appropriations by the Legislature, less any nonrecurring costs.

Chart of Accounts –A coding system designed to track revenues and expenses.

Compensation Impact Model (CIM) – Agency salary data collected by OFM to be used in collective bargaining negotiations and budget development. The model is the best approximation of future FTEs and salaries the agency can make at that time. It is not a request for additional funding.

Decision Package – An agency’s specific request for additional funding, or any proposed changes to the agency’s budget, through the legislative budget process. Decision packages are the key set of building blocks to construct the agency’s budget request.

Disclosure Forms – Forms completed at fiscal-year end that covers specific activity or area of information that is not readily available from the data collected in the state's Agency Financial Reporting System (AFRS).

Encumbrance – A budgetary tool used to commit funds for goods or services not yet received. Encumbrances represent the estimated amount of expenditures ultimately to result if a purchasing event/process is completed.

Enterprise Reports – A web-based application used to generate various Financial and Budget Reports. The application pulls data from other financial systems, such as Agency Financial Reporting System (AFRS), The Allotment System (TALS), and Travel and Employees Management System (TEMS).

Expenditures – Costs to an agency. Expenses represent the cost of operation incurred during the current period regardless of the timing of the related payment.

Expenditure Authority – Permission for agencies to disburse moneys or accrue liabilities during specific fiscal periods, up to specified amounts, from specific accounts. Authority is normally provided by the Legislature through appropriations or inclusion of nonappropriated account moneys in the legislative budget.

Expenditure Authority Index (EAI) – A three digit code assigned by OFM to track expenditure authority over a fiscal period. Sometimes referred to as an “Appropriation Index”.

Fiscal Note – An agency’s formal statement of the estimated fiscal impact of proposed legislation.

Fiscal Year – Washington State’s fiscal year is July 1st through June 30th. Fiscal years are named for the calendar year in which they end (for example, FY17 ends June 30, 2017).

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) – The equivalent of 2088 hours of work in a fiscal year (one person working full-time for one year equals one FTE).

Fund – Often used interchangeably with the term “Account”. A fiscal and accounting entity in which cash and other financial resources are deposited, withdrawn, recorded, and segregated for the purpose of carrying on specific activities.

GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) – These are the uniform minimum standards for financial accounting and reporting.

General Fund – The account used for the financial activities of the general government that are not required to be accounted for in another account.

Maintenance Level – A level in an agency’s budget request that reflects the cost of mandatory caseload, enrollment, inflation and other legally unavoidable costs not contemplated in the current budget.

Master Index (MI) – An eight alphanumeric code assigned by the agency to track expenditures and revenues over a specific combination of Account, Expenditure Authority, and Program.

MFSR (Monthly Financial Status Report) – A monthly report completed by an agency’s assigned SAFS budget analyst that shows the differences between planned spending (allotments) and actual expenditures through the closing of a fiscal period.

Non-Appropriated Funds – Moneys or resources that can be spent by an agency without legislative appropriation.

Object – Object of Expenditure. Categorization, or “coding”, used for expenditures; this term applies to the character of the article purchased or the service obtained. Examples are Salaries and Employee Benefits (Objects A and B, respectively). Also includes hierarchy categories of Sub-Objects and Sub-Sub-Objects.

Performance Measure – A quantitative indicator used to determine an agency’s progress towards an objective or target.

Policy and Performance Level – The level in an agency’s budget request for decision packages that do not fall under the definitions of carry-forward or maintenance levels. These requests may represent revised strategies or substantial differences in program direction, changes in discretionary workload, new programs or services, or program reductions and other program changes.

Program – A primary function or organizational unit of an agency.

Program Index (PI) – A five digit code assigned to track expenditures or revenues to a specific program in the agency.

Proviso – Language in a budget bill that restricts an agency’s funding for a specific purpose.

SAAM (State Administrative & Accounting Manual) – The minimum requirements that state agencies must meet over financial and administrative affairs of the state of Washington.

Unanticipated Receipt – Spendable money received by an agency which has not been appropriated by the Legislature. The Governor has the authority to approve the allotment of such money within the guidelines of the intent in which they were received.

Variance – The difference between planned spending (allotments) and actual expenditures. A “positive” variance denotes underspending compared to planned amounts, while a “negative” variance means spending is above planned levels

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