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Budget Functions

The federal budget is divided into approximately 20 categories known as budget functions. These functions include all spending for a given topic, regardless of the federal agency that oversees the individual federal program.

For example, the budget's Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology) includes spending for the National Science Foundation, science programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Office of Science within the Department of Energy. The budget for National Institutes for Health - which does involve scientific research - is included with other health programs in Function 550 (Health). Both the President's budget, submitted annually, and Congress' budget resolution, passed annually, comprise these approximately 20 functions.

Click on the links below to see a description of the types of programs in each budget function. For more information about Budget Functions, see our report Focus on Function.

Major Budget Functions


Function Number



National Defense


International Affairs


General Science, Space, and Technology




Natural Resources and Environment




Commerce and Housing Credit




Community and Regional Development


Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services






Income Security


Social Security


Veterans Benefits and Services


Administration of Justice


General Government


Net Interest




Undistributed Offsetting Receipts


Overseas Deployments and Other Activities



Function 050: National Defense

The National Defense function includes the military activities of the Department of Defense (DoD), the nuclear-weapons related activities of the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration, the national security activities of several other agencies such as the Selective Service Agency, and portions of the activities of the Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The programs in this function include: the pay and benefits of active, Guard, and reserve military personnel; DoD operations including training, maintenance of equipment, and facilities; health care for military personnel and dependents; procurement of weapons; research and development; construction of military facilities, including housing; research on nuclear weapons; and the cleanup of nuclear weapons production facilities. (Back to Top)


Function 150: International Affairs

Function 150 contains funding for all U.S. international activities, including: operating U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world; providing military assistance to allies; aiding developing nations; dispensing economic assistance to fledgling democracies; promoting U.S. exports abroad; making U.S. payments to international organizations; and contributing to international peacekeeping efforts. Funding for all of these activities constitutes about one percent of the federal budget. The major agencies in this function include the Departments of Agriculture, State, and the Treasury; the United States Agency for International Development; and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. (Back to Top)


Function 250: General Science, Space and Technology

This function includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration except for aviation programs, and general science programs at the Department of Energy (DOE). (Back to Top)


Function 270: Energy

Function 270 contains civilian energy and environmental programs in the Department of Energy (DOE). This function also includes the Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This function does not include DOE's national security activities, which are in Function 050 (National Defense), or its basic research and science activities, which are in Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology). (Back to Top)


Function 300: Natural Resources and Environment

Function 300 includes programs concerned with environmental protection and enhancement; recreation and wildlife areas; and the development and management of the nation's land, water, and mineral resources. It includes programs within the following federal departments and agencies: Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Transportation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Back to Top)


Function 350: Agriculture

Function 350 includes farm income stabilization, agricultural research, and other services administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The discretionary programs include research and education programs, economics and statistics services, administration of the farm support programs, farm loan programs, meat and poultry inspection, and a portion of the Public Law (P.L.) 480 international food aid program. The mandatory programs include commodity programs, crop insurance, and certain farm loans. (Back to Top)


Function 370: Commerce and Housing Credit

Function 370 includes mortgage credit, the Postal Service, deposit insurance, and other advancement of commerce (the majority of the discretionary and mandatory spending in this function). The mortgage credit component includes housing assistance through the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), and rural housing programs of the Department of Agriculture. The function also includes net postal service spending and spending for deposit insurance activities of banks, thrifts, and credit unions. Most of the Commerce Department is provided for in this function. Finally, the function also includes funding for independent agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the majority of the Small Business Administration. (Back to Top)


Function 400: Transportation

Function 400 consists mostly of the programs administered by the Department of Transportation, including programs for highways, mass transit, aviation, and maritime activities. This function also includes two components of the Department of Homeland Security: the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration. In addition, this function includes several small transportation-related agencies and the research program for civilian aviation at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (Back to Top)


Function 450: Community and Regional Development

Function 450 includes federal programs to improve community economic conditions, promote rural development, and assist in federal preparations for and response to disasters. This function provides appropriated funding for the Community Development Block Grant, Department of Agriculture rural development programs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other disaster mitigation and community development-related programs. It also provides mandatory funding for the federal flood insurance program. (Back to Top)


Function 500: Education, Training, Employment and Social Services

Function 500 includes funding for the Department of Education, social services programs within the Department of Health and Human Services, and employment and training programs within the Department of Labor. It also contains funding for the Library of Congress and independent research and art agencies such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  (Back to Top)


Function 550: Health

Function 550 includes most direct health care services programs. Other health programs in this function fund anti-bioterrorism activities, national biomedical research, protecting the health of the general population and workers in their places of employment, providing health services for under-served populations, and promoting training for the health care workforce. Some of the agencies funded in this function include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration. The major mandatory programs in this function are Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), federal and retirees' health benefits, and health care for Medicare-eligible military retirees. (Back to Top)


Function 570: Medicare

Function 570 includes only the Medicare program, which provides health insurance to senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Congress provides an annual appropriation for the costs of administering and monitoring the Medicare program. Nearly 99 percent of spending in this function occurs on the mandatory side of the budget, and almost all of the mandatory spending consists of payments for Medicare benefits. (Back to Top)


Function 600: Income Security

Function 600 consists of a range of income security programs that provide cash or near-cash assistance (e.g., housing, nutrition, and energy assistance) to low-income persons, and benefits to certain retirees, persons with disabilities, and the unemployed. Housing assistance programs account for the largest share of discretionary funding in this function. Major federal entitlement programs in this function include unemployment insurance, trade adjustment assistance income support, food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, foster care, and Supplemental Security Income. Federal and other retirement and disability programs comprise approximately one third of the funds in this function. (Back to Top)


Function 650: Social Security

Function 650 consists of the two payroll tax-financed programs that are collectively known as Social Security: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI). This function includes Social Security benefit payments and funds to administer the program. Under provisions of the Congressional Budget Act and the Budget Enforcement Act, Social Security trust funds are off-budget and do not appear in the budget resolution totals. However, a small portion of spending in Function 650 - the general fund transfer of income taxes on Social Security benefits - is considered on-budget and appears in the budget resolution totals. The table and discussion below contain information pertaining to both the on-budget and off-budget components. (Back to Top)


Function 700: Veterans Benefits and Services

Function 700 covers the programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including veterans' medical care, compensation and pensions, education and rehabilitation benefits, and housing programs. It also includes the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the American Battle Monuments Commission. Almost 90 percent of appropriated funding in Function 700 goes to veterans' health care. (Back to Top)


Function 750: Administration of Justice

The Administration of Justice function consists of federal law enforcement programs, litigation and judicial activities, correctional operations, and state and local justice assistance. Agencies within this function include: the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Border and Transportation Security; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Attorneys; legal divisions within the Department of Justice; the Legal Services Corporation; the federal Judiciary; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This function includes several components of the Department of Homeland Security. (Back to Top)


Function 800: General Government

This function includes the activities of the White House and the Executive Office of the President, the legislative branch, and programs designed to carry out the legislative and administrative responsibilities of the federal government, including personnel management, fiscal operations, and property control. (Back to Top)


Function 900: Net Interest

Function 900 consists primarily of the interest paid by the federal government to private and foreign government holders of U.S. Treasury securities. This amount is slightly offset by interest income received by the federal government on loans and cash balances and by earnings of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust. (Back to Top)


Function 920: Allowances

This function displays the budgetary effect of proposals that cannot easily be distributed across other budget functions. In the past, this function has included funding for emergencies or proposals contingent on certain events. (Back to Top)


Function 950: Undistributed Offsetting Receipts

This function comprises major offsetting receipt items that would distort the funding levels of other functional categories if they were distributed to them. (Back to Top)


Function 970: Overseas Deployments and Other Activities

This function includes funding for overseas deployments and other activities. This budget function was new in the congressional budget resolution for fiscal year 2008. (Back to Top)