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41 U.S. Code § 6301 - Authorization requirement

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(a) In General.—
A contract or purchase on behalf of the Federal Government shall not be made unless the contract or purchase is authorized by law or is under an appropriation adequate to its fulfillment.
(b) Exception.—
(1) Definition.—In this subsection, the term “defined Secretary” means—
the Secretary of Defense; or
the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Navy.
(2) In general.—
Subsection (a) does not apply to a contract or purchase made by a defined Secretary for clothing, subsistence, forage, fuel, quarters, transportation, or medical and hospital supplies.
(3) Current year limitation.—
A contract or purchase made by a defined Secretary under this subsection may not exceed the necessities of the current year.
(4) Reports.—
The defined Secretary shall immediately advise Congress when authority is exercised under this subsection. The defined Secretary shall report quarterly on the estimated obligations incurred pursuant to the authority granted in this subsection.
(c) Special Rule for Purchase of Land.—
Land may not be purchased by the Federal Government unless the purchase is authorized by law.
Amendment Not Shown in Text

Subsecs. (a) and (b) of this section are derived from section 11 of former Title 41, Public Contracts, which was amended by Pub. L. 111–281, title IX, § 903(a)(4), Oct. 15, 2010, 124 Stat. 3010, prior to being repealed and reenacted as subsecs. (a) and (b) of this section by Pub. L. 111–350, §§ 3, 7(b), Jan. 4, 2011, 124 Stat. 3677, 3855. For applicability of that amendment to this section, see section 6(a) of Pub. L. 111–350, set out as a Transitional and Savings Provisions note preceding section 101 of this title. Section 903 of Pub. L. 111–281 provided that, effective with the enactment of Pub. L. 109–241, section 902(c) of Pub. L. 109–241, which amended section 3732 of the Revised Statutes, is amended by inserting in the directory language, “of the United States” after “Revised Statutes”, resulting in no change in text.

Historical and Revision Notes



Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


41:11(a) (words before 2nd comma).

R.S. § 3732; Pub. L. 89–687, title VI, § 612(e), Oct. 15, 1966, 80 Stat. 993; Pub. L. 98–557, § 17(e)(1), (2), Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2868; Pub. L. 104–106, div. D, title XLIII, § 4322(b)(4), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 677; Pub. L. 109–241, title IX, § 902(c), July 11, 2006, 120 Stat. 566.


41:11(a) (words after 2nd comma), (b).



R.S. § 3736.

In subsection (b)(1)(A), the words “Secretary of Defense” are substituted for “Department of Defense” because of 10:113.

In subsection (b)(1)(B), the words “Secretary of Homeland Security” are substituted for “Department of Homeland Security” because of section 102(a)(2) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 112(a)(2)).