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Appendix II - Glossary and List of Acronyms

Friday, January 6, 2012

Appendix II - Glossary and List of Acronyms


Terminology and definitions used herein are the same as those used in the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1991 and more fully described in A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process, January 1993. Other terminology and definitions are from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Government Finances, and from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Conceptual Basis for Chain-Type Measures. The terminology and definitions are summarized here along with a discussion of additional measures and concepts used in this report.

Budget Authority (BA)

Budget authority is the authority provided by federal law to incur financial obligations that will result in immediate or future outlays of government funds.

Capital Expenditures

A capital expenditure as defined in this report is any expenditure that adds to the productive capacity of the economy. Specifically, a capital expenditure in transportation is any expenditure that increases the capacity and efficiency of the transportation infrastructure, whether by reducing times, improving access, creating capacity for more passengers and goods traffic, reducing costs, or reducing adverse safety and environmental impacts.

Chained 1996 Dollars

Chained 1996 dollars provide dollar values of inflation-adjusted government revenues and expenditures using 1996 prices. These estimates are derived by dividing the current dollar values by chain-type price indexes. The indexes are different for the federal government and for state and local governments. The resulting chained dollar values are those that would exist if prices had remained at the same level as in 1996.

Chain-Type Price Index

Chain-type price index is a measure of movements in prices over time for a fixed set of goods and services. Chain-type price indexes are compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) using Fishers ideal price index formula. Fisher ideal price index is a geometric mean of a Laspeyres and a Paasche price index. The Laspeyres price index uses the prices of the first of the two periods being compared to weight prices, while the Paasche price index uses the prices of the second period. Since the Fisher ideal price index is a geometric mean, the change in the index falls between the changes in the Paasche and Laspeyre price indexes. The annual changes in Fishers price index are chained (multiplied) together using weights from two adjacent years to form a time series of changes. For example, the 1998-1999 annual percent change in prices uses quantities for 1998 and 1999 as weights, and the 1999-2000 annual percentage changes in prices uses quantities for 1999 and 2000 as weights.

Current Dollars

The dollar value of a good or service in terms of prices current at the time the good or service is sold. This contrasts with the value of the good or service measured in constant dollars.

Expenditures from Own Funds

Federal expenditures from own funds include all amounts of money paid out by the federal government including not only direct spending but also grants to state and local governments. State and local expenditures from own funds include outlays of the state and local governments from all sources of funds excluding federal grants.

General Fund

The general fund consists of accounts for receipts not earmarked by law for a specific purpose, such as income taxes and many excise taxes, the proceeds of general borrowing, and the expenditure of these moneys.

Government Transportation Revenues

Transportation revenues include money received by the government from transportation-related taxes, user charges or fees earmarked to fund transportation-related expenditures.

Government Transportation Expenditures

Transportation expenditures consist of money paid out for transportation-related activities by the government. In this definition, expenditures include payments from all sources of funds, including transportation trust funds, general funds and proceeds from borrowing


A grant is a federal financial assistance award making payment in cash or in kind for a specified purpose. The federal government is not expected to have substantial involvement with the state or local government or other recipient while the contemplated activity is being performed. The term "grants-in-aid" is commonly restricted to grants to state and local governments.

Intergovernmental Revenues

Amounts received from other governments as fiscal aid in the form of shared revenues and grants-in-aid, as reimbursements for performance of general government functions and specific services for the paying government, or in lieu of taxes. This revenue excludes the amounts received from other governments for sale of property, commodities, and utility services.


Obligations are binding agreements that will result in outlays, immediately or in the future. Budgetary resources must be available before obligations can be incurred legally.

Offsetting Collections

Offsetting collections are collections from the public that result from business-type or market-oriented activities and collections from other government accounts. These collections are deducted from gross disbursements and budget authority in calculating outlays and budget authority, rather than counted in governmental receipt totals. Some offsetting collections are credited directly to expenditure accounts; others, called offsetting receipts, are credited to receipt accounts. The authority to spend offsetting collections is a form of budget authority.

Trust Fund

Accounts established by law to hold receipts (such as specific taxes or revenues) collected by the federal government and earmarked for financing special purposes and programs. To assure the financial soundness of a trust fund, it must be tracked separately to determine that outlays/expenditures do not exceed available revenues.

User Charge or Fee

Payment by a user for goods and services provided by the federal, state, or local government. User charges, either directly or indirectly, are collected on a periodic or occasional basis in the form or license fees and excises. Also, a user charge is paid at the time infrastructure services are consumed, as with the payment of fuel taxes and tolls. In the narrow budgetary sense, a toll for the use of highway is considered a user fee since it is related to the specific use of a particular section of highway. Highway excise taxes on gasoline are considered a form of user charge in the economic sense, but since the tax must be paid regardless of how the gasoline is used, and since it is not directly linked to the provision of the specific service, it is considered a tax and recorded as a governmental receipt in the federal budget.

User Coverage

The ratio used to measure the degree to which expenditures are funded or "covered" by the various types of revenues. This ratio indicates the percent of expenditures that is funded by identifiable transportation-related tax receipts, fees, and the like.

List of Acronyms


Airport and Airway Trust Fund


National Railroad Passenger Corporation


Bureau of Transportation Statistics


United States Department of Transportation


Federal Aviation Administration


Federal-aid Primary


Federal-aid Secondary


Federal-aid Urban


Federal Highway Administration


Federal Railroad Administration


Federal Transit Administration


Fiscal Year


Gross Domestic Product


Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund


Highway Trust Fund


Interstate Commerce Commission


Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991


Inland Waterway Trust Fund


Maritime Administration


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River and Tributaries Program


National Aeronautics and Space Administration


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


National Transportation Safety Board


Office of Management and Budget


Office of Pipeline Safety


Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund


Office of the Secretary of Transportation


Panama Canal Commission


Pipeline Safety Fund


Research and Special Programs Administration


Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.


Southern Pacific ChicagoSaint Louis Corp.


Surface Transportation Board


Surface Transportation Program


The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


U.S. Coast Guard


Vehicle Miles Traveled


Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority