Definition/Scope: (OMB) The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines "earmarks" as "funds provided by the Congress for projects, programs, or grants where the purported congressional direction (whether in statutory text, report language, or other communication) circumvents otherwise applicable merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the executive branch to manage its statutory and constitutional responsibilities pertaining to the funds allocation process." Earmarks vs. Unrequested Funding. At the broadest level, unrequested funding is any additional funding provided by the Congress -- in either bill or report language -- for activities/projects/programs not requested by the Administration. Earmarks are a subset of unrequested funding. The distinction between earmarks and unrequested funding is programmatic control or lack thereof of in the allocation process. Earmarks and Programmatic "Control." If the congressional direction accompanying a project/program/funding in an appropriations bill or report or other communication purports to affect the ability of the Administration to control critical aspects of the awards process for the project/program/funding, this IS an earmark. Note: The definition of "control critical aspects" includes specification of the location or recipient or otherwise circumventing the merit-based or competitive allocation process and may be program specific. However, if the Congress adds funding and the Administration retains control over the awards process for the project/program/funding, it is NOT an earmark; it is unrequested funding.
Broader Terms:Approved Operating Budget
Narrower Terms:off-budget expenditures