Glossary of Terms

The Department of Finance and Management uses many terms which may not be familiar or commonly used.  This Glossary of Terms is intended to clearly explain many of the terms you will encounter in the charts, graphs, tables, and reports posted on, or linked to, this website.  We hope that you find this glossary helpful.

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Agency/Department - Refers to any agency, department, board, commission and office which is a unit of the State’s Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches.

Appropriation - An appropriation is the amount of funds the Legislature has authorized to be spent in a fiscal year, as passed by the Legislature in an Act (bill) during session. When the Legislature is not in session, there are other statutorily approved methods to increase appropriations for funds other than the General Fund.  Although appropriation reductions may be made to the General Fund in certain situations, increases to the General Fund appropriation may only be enacted by the Legislature.  Expenditures may not exceed authorized appropriation levels.  Appropriations may be: Duplicated or Non-duplicated.

Duplicated Appropriations - A duplicated appropriation occurs when $1 of funding is appropriated to a department and spent “inside” State Government.  For example: one department uses its appropriation for “purchasing services” from a second department.  In order for the second department to spend that same $1, a second appropriation is necessary.  Spending authority is required before the second department may spend the $ “outside” of State Government.  In this case, the same $1 was appropriated twice, hence a duplicated appropriation. 

Non-duplicated Appropriations - Non-duplicated appropriations are those where $1 of funding is appropriated to a department and spent “outside” State Government (vendor payments, contractors, supplies, employee salaries, equipment purchases, etc.). 

Balanced Budget Statute - Many states have a “balanced budget” statute, which requires that the authorized appropriations must not exceed anticipated revenue.  Vermont does not have a balanced budget statute.  However, Vermont does have a statutory mechanism - the Consensus Revenue Forecast process - which acts to achieve a balanced budget.  Revenue forecasts are formally adopted twice each fiscal year.  Adopting revenue forecasts defines the revenue amount available for appropriation.  Defining the revenue available effectively ensures a balanced budget.

Budget (State Budget) - The State Budget, as appropriated by the Legislature, is the total operational spending authorized for a fiscal year, by department, program, or function, and by state and/or federal funds. The total non-duplicated appropriations equal the total State Budget.

Business Unit (BU) - Broadly defined as an operating unit (department, office, board, or commission) and established statutorily or administratively. Business Units can be individual departments or divisions that need to segregate their financial data for accounting purposes, or operational centers, that segregate their operations for management purposes, including security.  BU is one of the seven (7) ChartFields within the general ledger chart of accounts.

CAFR - The acronym for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is the formal audited financial statements of the State, prepared on an accrual basis, and in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Capital Budget - The Capital Budget, as appropriated by the Legislature, is the total spending authorized for a fiscal year(s) relating to capital construction and state bonding, exclusive of transportation infrastructure and bonding.  The Office of the State Treasurer is responsible for the issuance and management of the State of Vermont's debt in a prudent and cost-effective manner. The State Treasury issues long-term debt consistent with authorization by the Legislature. The full faith and credit of the State is pledged to the payment of the State's general obligation bonds. For more information, visit the Office of the State Treasurer's Debt Management webpage.

CFDA/CFDA# - This acronym refers to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which is a government-wide compendium of Federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public.  Each grant from the federal government to the State has a CFDA number assigned.

Chart of Accounts - A listing of the names of the accounts or categories (such as assets, liabilities, revenue, operating expenses, etc.) that an organization has identified and made available for recording financial transactions in its general ledger. The general ledger reflects a permanent summary of all financial transactions. An organization has the flexibility to tailor its chart of accounts to best suit its needs, including additional accounts and the incorporating of other elements, such as department indicators as needed. 

ChartFields - The VISION financial system stores chart of account information in segmented fields called ChartFields. The State of Vermont utilizes the following seven (7) ChartFields; Business Unit (required), Account (required), DeptID (required), Fund (required), Program (optional), Project/Grant (optional) and Class (optional).  The use of these ChartFields allow for financial reporting at each level, or on a consolidated basis, as necessary. 

Consensus Revenue - Refer to Revenue Forecast.

ContractCommodity - A legally enforceable agreement between an agency/department of the State of Vermont and another legal entity for goods. 

Contract - Service -  A legally enforceable agreement between an agency/department of the State of Vermont and another legal entity to provide services (may also include products). 

Current Law Revenue - Refer to Revenue Forecast.

Debt Service - The amount of funds required to cover the repayment of the interest and principal of a debt (loan, bond, lease, etc.).

DeptID - One of the seven (7) ChartFields within the general ledger which refers to operational unit subdivisions.

Emergency Board (E-Board) - The Vermont Emergency Board (E-Board) established under 32 V.S.A. §131 is composed of the Governor and the Chairpersons of the Legislature’s four (4) “money committees” (Senate Appropriations, Senate Finance, House Appropriations, and House Ways and Means Committees). 

Expenditure - The act of expending money for the operations and programs of State government, infrastructure spending, and capital assets/improvements is called an expenditure.

Fiscal Year (FY) ‐ The State of Vermont operates, budgets and accounts for revenue and expenses on a 12 month fiscal (FY) basis, beginning on July 1st and ending on June 30th of the subsequent year.  The fiscal year takes its name from the calendar year in which it ends.  For example: the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2018 is referred to as FY 2018 or FY18. 

Function - State government is segregated into like-kind functions including: General Government (administrative functions); Protection to Persons and Property (the legal system and law enforcement; oversight of: banks, insurance and securities; farming; energy; professional licensing; etc.); Human Services (health; mental health; Medicaid; social programs; and corrections); Labor (unemployment and workforce training services); General Education (K-12 schools; adult education; special education; and the Agency of Education); Higher Education and Other (State funding for University of VT; the VT State Colleges; and Vermont Student Assistance  Corp., etc.); Natural Resources (Environmental Conservation; Fish and Wildlife; Forests, Parks and Recreation; etc.); Commerce and Community Development (Economic Development; Housing; Tourism; statewide marketing; etc.); Transportation (transportation infrastructure including: highways; roads; rails; airports; bridges; etc.); and Debt Service. 

Fund ‐ A self‐balancing set of accounts recording assets, liabilities, and equity. A fund is used to segregate financial information for carrying on specific activities or attaining certain objectives. For budgetary purposes, funds are segregated into Federal or State sources and reported by types (see Fund Types). As reported in the CAFR, funds are grouped by fund type according to governmental accounting standards: Governmental Funds; Proprietary Funds; and Fiduciary Funds. “Fund” is one of the seven (7) ChartFields within the general ledger.

Fund Types - There are five major State funds: General Fund; Transportation Fund; Education Fund, Special Funds, and Global Commitment Fund; and a sixth major fund - Federal Funds.  In addition there are other non-major funds (Capital Funds, Debt Service Funds), several Proprietary Funds (Enterprise Funds for business-like activities, and Internal Service Funds), and Fiduciary Funds (Pension Fund, Other Post Employment Benefit Funds, and Trust Funds).   

General Fund (GF) - This fund includes all revenue and receipts that are not required by law to be accounted for or deposited into other funds, including tax receipts, fees, and other income.  Receipts deposited in the GF include: Personal Income Tax, Corporate Income Tax, a portion of Sales and Use Tax, Rooms and Meals Tax, and other miscellaneous taxes and fees.  Expenditures from GF include support of functions such as General Government, Protection to Persons and Property, Human Services, Labor, General Education, Higher Education, Natural Resources, Commerce and Community Development and Debt Service. 

Transportation Fund (TF) - As the name suggests, the Transportation Fund is a State Special Fund primarily used to fund the Agency of Transportation operations, transportation infrastructure, and related repairs and maintenance; the Department of Public SafetyState Police operations are also partially funded with TF.  Receipts deposited in the TF include: Gasoline Tax, Diesel Tax, Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax, Motor Vehicle Fees, and other taxes and fees.

Education Fund (EF) - This State fund includes receipts from both the statewide property taxes and non-property tax sources.  Non-property tax sources include a portion of Sales and Use Tax, Motor Vehicle Purchase and Use Tax, and State Lottery profits. 

Special Funds (SF) - Special Funds (State) are directed toward a specific, or special, program or purpose.  Examples of State Special Funds are: Fish and Wildlife Fund, DUI Enforcement Fund, Tobacco Settlement Fund, Act 250 Permit Fund, and many more. Special Funds may be reported individually or grouped together as Special Funds.

Enterprise Funds (ENT) - Enterprise Funds are used to fund and account for business-like operations, such as the Vermont Lottery Commission, Liquor Control and others.  

Federal Fund - As the name indicates, all federal receipts, whether on-going support for federal programs like 3SquaresVT (food stamps), or specific grant awards to the State, from the Federal government.  This is not a State Fund.

Global Commitment - The State of Vermont received a Medicaid waiver from the federal Center for Medicaid/Medicare Systems to operate an expanded Medicaid program and the State’s long term care program (Choices for Care).  The Global Commitment Fund is a consolidated funding source composed of appropriated receipts from the General Fund, Special Funds, State Health Care Resources Fund, Tobacco Fund, Catamount Fund and Federal Funds.  Once assembled, the Global Commitment Fund is used to fund Human Service operations and benefit programs provided primarily through the Agency of Human Services departments and programs.  All appropriations funded with the Global Commitment Fund are duplicated appropriations.

Fund Summaries (GF, TF and EF) - Fund Summaries, sometimes referred to as Operating Statements, for the three major State funds are presented on this website on a budgetary basis.  Formal audited accrual basis financial statements are presented in the CAFR.

Grant - A legally enforceable agreement between an agency/department of the State of Vermont (grantor) and another legal entity recipient (grantee) to carry out a purpose(s) as defined in a grant agreement and grant-like situations.  Grants may be funded in whole or in part with state and/or federal funds.

Grant Expense - Refers to appropriations and expenditures made under grant agreements, or grant-like agreements and for the support of persons or providers, or community partners in the performance of public benefit activities.

Indicator – A measure that helps quantify the achievement of an outcome/results/goal. 1

Operating Expense - Refers to appropriations and expenditures for the support of State government, such as utilities, office supplies, materials, travel expenses, and others.

Outcome/Result – A condition of well-being for children, adults, families, and communities. "Outcome" is generally used at the population level.  When delving down to the department or program level, "result" may be substituted.1

Performance Accountability – is about the well-being of the clients served, programs run, or functions performed by the agencies, service systems, or units of government.

Performance Measure – A measure of how well a program, agency, department, or division is working.  There are three types of performance measures, with the most important of these are #3 and #2, respectively: (1) “How much did we do?” (effort/quantity); (2) “How well did we do it?” (effort/quality); (3) “Is anyone better off?” (effect/quantity/quality).1

Personal Services - Refers to a category of appropriations and expenditures for items such as employee salaries and wages, fringe benefits, payroll taxes, temporary employees, and 3rd party contracts for service.

Population Accountability – is about the well-being of whole populations whether they are receiving services or not. This includes all Vermonters, Chittenden County residents, youths 13 – 19 years, people with disabilities, hunters, students, etc.

Program/Function – An identifiable segment of State government delineated by a set of activities with a specific goal. It's a system of procedures or activities that has a specific and distinct mission (e.g. to assist Vermonters with developmental disabilities, provide community development grants, adult education, etc.) with a plan of action on how to achieve that goal. 

Programmatic/Functional Budget – Appropriated and actual expenditures (personal services, operating expenses and grants out) for costs directly related to the management and support of the program/function, including identification of revenue sources. 

RBA – is an acronym standing for Results-Based Accountability.1

Reserves - Reserves are monies “set aside” at fiscal year end, to be held for use in subsequent fiscal years.  The General, Transportation, and Education Funds each have one or more statutory reserves.  The major reserves are: the GF, TF and EF Budget Stabilization Reserves, the GF and TF Balance Reserves, and the GF Human Services Caseload Reserve.

Reserve - Balance Reserves - Established during the 2012 Legislative Session, these reserves within the GF and TF are referred to as “the Rainy Day Funds”.  At the close of fiscal year 2013 and each fiscal year thereafter, and after meeting the statutory maximum for the Budget Stabilization Reserves, and any other reserve as required, any additional amount of revenue in excess of the Consensus Revenue Forecast is reserved for allocation as designated by the Legislature in subsequent years.

Reserve - Budget Stabilization Reserves - In each fiscal year, and in accordance with statute, the State reserves (sets aside) an amount equal to a certain percentage of the prior fiscal year’s total appropriations within the General Fund, Transportation Fund, and Education Fund.  The statutory percentage set aside for each of the funds is: GF - 5%, TF - 5%, and EF - 3.5% to 5% (range).  Reserving these funds provides protection from unanticipated declines in revenue or emergency expenditures, which occur too close to the end of the fiscal year to be covered by reducing spending, or generating additional revenue, within the remainder of the fiscal year.  Prior to FY 2012, this Reserve was commonly, but erroneously referred to as the "Rainy Day Fund" (Balance Reserve).

Reserve - Human Service Caseload Reserve – Available amounts may be reserved within the GF by the Legislature, for use in subsequent fiscal years, to cover additional costs in Human Service programs due to increased caseload (number of clients served), or utilization (amount of service consumed), which exceed the existing appropriations for these programs.

Results-Based Accountability – Results-Based Accountability™ (RBA), also known as Outcomes-Based Accountability™ (OBA), is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that communities can use to improve the lives of children, youth, families, adults, and the community as a whole. RBA is also used by organizations to improve the performance of their programs or services. RBA has two components: Population Accountability, and Performance Accountability.  RBA was developed by Mark Friedman and described in his book "Trying Hard is Not Good Enough", FPSI Publishing

Revenue - Refers to receipts from all taxes, fees, licenses, and permits as established in current law, and any other sources of income including federal funding

Revenue Component ‐ A grouping or type of revenue received as a result of tax law, statutory fees or miscellaneous income.

Revenue Forecast/Current Law - In accordance with 32 V.S.A. §305(a), the State’s Emergency Board officially adopts revenue forecasts for certain funds in January and July of each year, or in the interim, as necessary, including the General Fund, Transportation Fund, and the non-property tax components of the Education Fund.  This forecasted revenue is also referred to as Current Law Revenue.

Scorecard (Dashboard) – is a “report card” which shows data about how an agency, department, program, or function is performing relative to outcomes/results. Scorecards/Dashboards may be reported manually, or supported and displayed using software.  

Strategy – is a coherent collection of actions that have a reasoned chance of improving results. Strategies work at both the population and performance level.1

Vantage - The State's primary centralized budget development system used to develop the Governor's Budget Recommendations and track legislative changes throughout the session.  Vantage is a product of CGI Group, Inc. Vantage was implemented during the summer of 2012 and was first used to develop the FY 2014 budget.

Vendor ‐ The payee to whom a payment is made via check or ACH (electronic), excluding payments to State of Vermont employees for salary and wages. Vendors include many types of individuals and organizations, including, but not limited to, individuals, partnerships, for profit and non-profit entities, taxable and non-taxable entities, licensed professionals, contractors, grantees, and others.

VISION - The State’s primary centralized financial system used for the processing, recording, tracking and reporting of deposits, purchase orders, expenses, appropriation control, assets management, and billings is called the VISION system.  VISION is an Oracle/PeopleSoft system.  The term “VISION” originated from the name of the original project to implement the PeopleSoft financial system in 2001 (Vermont Integrated System for Information and Organizational Needs). Today – the acronym has become the common name for the system.

V.S.A. - This acronym stands for the Vermont Statutes Annotated.  The statutes are organized into 33 Titles, each with enumerated sections by Chapter. For example, the citation “1 V.S.A § 315” refers to: Title 1: General Provisions, Section 315: Statement of Policy.

VTHR - The State’s primary centralized payroll and human capital management system used for the processing, recording, tracking and reporting of payroll, benefits, leave balances, and other employee data is the VTHR system.  VTHR is an Oracle/PeopleSoft system.

Footnote 1: Based on the book Trying Hard Is Not Good Enough by Mark Friedman, FPSI Publishing.

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Commissioner Adam Greshin
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Montpelier, VT 05609-0401

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