Fiscal Law and Contracting
Fiscal law and contracting are two vital components of money as a weapons system. Three key players serve the commander when contemplating using money to accomplish his mission: the contracting officer, the field ordering officer, and/or the project purchasing officer; the resource manager and/or the paying agent; and the staff judge advocate. Each provides knowledge of fiscal, contracting, and procurement laws required to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse of funds (U.S. government and other funds available).
Working with these three individuals enables commanders to maintain awareness of changes to laws. For example, Congress waived a portion of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that applies to the Commander's Emergency Response Program which allows commanders to give preference to Iraqi and Afghan contractors and does not require commanders to undertake the traditional bidding process to identify the lowest cost to the government. General fiscal prudence and local guidance balance this waiver by stating that commanders will not deliberately overpay for products and will pay reasonable prices for supplies and services that yield a modest, functional standard.
Fiscal law spans the whole field of financial management and requires familiarity with the following:
Fiscal law establishes limitations on expending and obligating funds. An officer or employee of the U.S. government may not:
The basic axiom of fiscal law is that the expenditure of public funds is proper only when authorized by Congress, and not that the expenditure of public funds is proper unless prohibited by Congress.
Contract and procurement laws are contained in the FAR and deal with creating, interpreting, and enforcing written agreements. The basic guidance, stated in the Feed and Forage Act, is as follows:
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012