Antideficiency Act I


Bethany Walsh

Sep 08, 2021

The Antideficiency Act ("ADA") is a series of provisions incorporated into the appropriation law since 1870s, which prohibits federal agencies from using public funds without Congressional permission and from accepting voluntary goods or services. However, the scope of ADA is very wide, which means that agency staff should be cautious about free technological innovation information.

The potential barriers to innovation caused by ADA are as follows:

1. ADA's prohibition on receiving voluntary goods and services. Information briefings, studies, memos, raw research data, etc. provided by companies, foundations and regulated entities require time, money and manpower to conduct the research and compile it into available rules or guidelines, which are valuable in the market. Yet, such information will violate ADA's prohibition on receiving voluntary goods and services.

2. ADA prohibits voluntary service. An institution considers having a professor who recently published a paper on the subject meet with its staff and discuss the study at its headquarters. Although the professor is willing to hold this discussion free of charge, yet this behavior will be taken as accepting voluntary service, so the speech will violate ADA.

3.Heavy penalties for violations of ADA. Federal employees may be subject to employment impact and criminal penalties for accidentally violating ADA, which greatly frustrates the enthusiasm of agency staff to obtain innovative resources.


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