The Administration 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
that is a policy difference.
Earmarks May Include:
Add-ons. If the Administration asks for $100 million for formula grants,
for example, and Congress provides $110 million and places restrictions
(such as site-specific locations)
on the additional $10 million, the additional $10 million is counted
as an earmark.
Carve-outs. If the Administration asks for $100 million and Congress
provides $100 million but places restrictions on some portion of the funding
that circumvents merit and competitive allocation processes or curtails the
Executive branch's ability to properly manage funds,
the restricted portion is counted as an earmark.
Funding provisions that do not name a grantee(s), but are so specific that
only a small number or specific grantee can qualify for funding.
Other documents on collection of information about earmarks: