What is the Statement of Disbursements (SODs)?
The SOD is 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.
A detailed overview of the public law and the SOD components can be found in the SOD Glossary of Terms under Statement of Disbursements.
What period of time does the Statement of Disbursements cover? When and how frequently is the Statement of Disbursements published?
The Statement of Disbursements is published quarterly (January – March, April – June, July – September and October – December).
The SOD is published no later than 60 days following the close of the quarter.
Where can I review a copy of the Statement of Disbursements?
In Member Offices
In the Legislative Resource Center located in B-106 Cannon House Office Building
On disbursements.house.gov (starting with expenditures of July–September 2009)
What is the budget for most Members of Congress?
The Members' Representational Allowance is the budget authorized by the Committee on House Administration for each Member of Congress in support of the conduct of official and representational duties to the district from which elected. For Legislative Year 2016, for example, the MRA ranged from $1.17 – 1.80 million.
What are the guidelines for how a Member’s budget can be used? How are funds assigned to each Member office?
A Member's budget, known as the Member Representational Allowance (MRA), is based on a standard staffing figure, an official expenses figure, and an official mail figure. A full explanation of the MRA value and rules can be found under Members' Representational Allowance in the SOD Glossary of Terms.
Is the unspent portion of a Member's Representational Allowance returned to the Treasury?
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, LY 2015 was funded with FY 2015 and FY 2016 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 2014 appropriations (10/1/13— 9/30/14) will be returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/16. During FY 2014, FY 2012 and 2013 appropriations were still available to use toward a valid expenditure. During FY 2014, FY 2011 appropriations were no longer available for use. These appropriations were returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/13.
- 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 2012 funds were funded by FY 2012 and 2013 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 2012 and a valid expense for that year is identified on October 2, 2016, the expense will be charged to LY 2012 and FY 2015 because the MRA does not cancel and the FY 2015 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, LY15 was funded with FY15 and FY16 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 2016 appropriations will be returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/18. FY 2014, 2015 and 2016 appropriations are still available for use. FY 2013 appropriations were canceled and are no longer available for use. These appropriations were returned to the U.S. Treasury 9/30/15.
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 2012 funds were funded by FY 2012 and 2013 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 2012 and a valid expense for that year is identified on October 2, 2016, the expense will be charged to LY 2012 and FY 2015 because the MRA does not cancel and the FY 2015 appropriation is still available for use.
Who publishes the Statement of Disbursements?
The Chief Administrative Officer of the House (CAO) publishes the SOD.
What is a Shared Employee?
An employee who is paid by more than one employing authority of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Will expenses for a Shared Employee fall under each Member or Employing Office?
Yes, expenses for a Shared Employee will appear under each employing office.
What is the difference between Personnel Compensation and Personnel Benefits?
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.
Does Local Transportation just mean a taxi? Or could that include public transportation (i.e. Metro, Metro Rail)?
Charges for taxi, subway or bus travel are included under local transportation. Parking and toll charges when away from the official duty station are also included under this category.
What qualifies as a 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.
What does it mean when an expense is subtracted from a larger total?
A negative expense amount that appears in the SOD represents a refund or adjustment of an expense through a cash receipt or other type of transaction. The negative amount reduces the total expenses.
What is DC tel toll?
Telecommunication Toll charges include costs associated with the Washington, DC and/or District Offices.
DC Tel Tolls include Cellular Charges (i.e., BlackBerry combo devices – both data and voice), Long Distance (Verizon Business), Federal Universal Service Fee (FUSF) Charges, Directory Assistance Services, Calling Card, Audio-Conferencing, Blast Fax Long Distance and Wireless Air cards.
District Office (DO) Tel Tolls include charges for Long Distance (Verizon Business), Federal Universal Service Fee (FUSF), Frame Relay and National Access Fee (NAF).
What is GSA and why does office rental go through them?
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.
What is 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.)
NOTE: As of 2015, travel subsistence is no longer used as a Budget Object Code.
What are publications/reference materials and subscriptions?
Purchases of or subscription to pamphlets, books, documents, newspapers, periodicals as well as other communications needed to inform official and representational duties.
What is a 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.
Where can I find the rules on what may be purchased with these funds?
www.house.gov under the Committee on House Administration for the Member’s and Committee Congressional Handbooks and Franking Manual; and under the Committee on Standards and Official Conduct for the Ethics Manual.
See SOD Glossary of Terms for brief description of various regulations or visit www.house.gov to review the rules and regulations.
When does the fiscal year start and end?
The federal government's fiscal year beginning on October 1 and ending on September 30 of the following year.
How can I contact my Member of Congress to ask questions about the expenditures?
Members can be contacted via the Washington, DC, or District Office or through www.house.gov.
Why are there multiple years shown in the "Summary of Transactions by Appropriations"?
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).
Why is the House paying for student loans?
The Committee on House Administration has established a Student Loan Repayment Program (the "Program"). The purpose of the Program is to provide House employing offices an additional tool with which to recruit and retain qualified staff in the service of the House. In general, the Program enables participating House employing offices to authorize repayment of qualifying student loans on behalf of eligible employees who agree in writing to remain in their employment for a period of one year.
Why are previous year expenses listed in the current quarter for this year?
Previous year expenses may be listed in the current quarter Statement of Disbursements (SOD). Although the expenses were charged to the Member’s prior year MRA, they were not submitted to the House’s Office of Financial Counseling for payment until the current quarter period. The SOD lists all expenditure transactions from the House for that period of time.
For example, in 2016 the Office of Financial Counseling receives a vendor invoice referencing 2014 service dates and applies the expenditure to the 2014 MRA. The transaction is listed in the corresponding 2016 SOD for the date the transaction occurred citing the 2014 expenditure from 2014 funds.
How are corrections listed in the SOD?
Disbursement Corrections are listed as normal transactions and can be made at any time. However, these transactions must be made prior to the end of a quarter to be included in a specific SOD.
For example, if there is a discrepancy on the office’s February Monthly Financial Statement, you must complete the correction in the House financial system before the last business day in March. This will ensure the correction is included in the January – March SOD (1st quarter). If the March deadline is missed, the correction will be included in the appropriate SOD for the transaction date upon which the correction was made.
If offices have questions or find an error in the Statement of Disbursements, they may notify the Office of Financial Counseling.
What is the Mass Mail Report?
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 that the SOD report the total pieces and total costs of mailings for each Member per quarter.
What is the Mass Communication Report?
Public Law 104-197 § 311 and resolution 110-10 of the Committee on House Administration requires the reporting of unsolicited communications of substantially identical content to 500 or more persons in a session of Congress by means other than USPS (e.g. telephone, internet, e-mail, etc.) The law requires the SOD report the total pieces and total costs of mailings for each Member per quarter.