The highest level of budgeting control is the appropriation level. The legislature sets this using appropriation bills or Idaho Code. The legislature sets controls that the agency cannot change without further legislative approval.

Elements of Budgetary Controls

There are three major elements of budgetary controls on STARS – the appropriation bill, Funds, and Budget Units. These will determine the level of controls set for expenditures:

  • Expenditure Object
  • Budget Unit
  • Fund

Appropriation Bill - When the legislature writes the appropriation bill, they will identify the “programs" and Funds they wish to control. They also identify the Object level (Personnel, Operating Expenses, Capital Outlay, or Trustee/Benefits) for how you can spend these Funds. In your budget submission, you will have to report these amounts at those levels. These “programs" are the basis for the Budget Units in STARS.

Fund - The legislature will identify the Funds for each appropriation in the appropriation bill. Idaho Code does not allow you to move appropriations between Funds.

Budget Unit - For each “program" on the appropriation bill, a Budget Unit must be set up in STARS. When a program's name changes on the appropriation bill, you should make a name change to the Budget Unit Table (20) for the fiscal year involved.

Enter the appropriation amounts using Batch Type 1, but you can also use Batch Types 4 or 5. Enter the appropriation amounts according to the required legislative source document.

If the legislature gives you a Lump Sum appropriation, DFM requires that you enter the Lump Sum appropriations at the Object level. With Lump sum appropriations, the agency decides which Objects they want to post the amount.

The legislature identifies Lump Sum appropriations in a separate column on the Appropriation Bill. There are very few Lump Sum appropriations approved by the legislature. Typically you should post appropriations at the Object level.


Funds and Fund Details determine whether the appropriation will be controlled at the Fund or the Fund Detail level. Funds and Fund Details must be set up on the STARS Descriptor Table before they are used.

When a new Fund or Fund Detail is on the appropriation bill, you should review any controls are described.

  • The State Controllers' Office will add or change the Funds based on Idaho Code or the appropriation bill.
  • The agency should add or change the Fund Details based on the appropriation bill or other agency needs. 
    The agency can make 'adds' or changes by completing and submitting a Descriptor Table (DESCR-23) form to the State Controller's Office.

    Once the Funds and Fund Details are added to the Descriptor Tables, you can add them to your Budget Units.

Budget Units

Budget Units are normally set up by legislative “programs" within each agency, and are used to establish the control levels.

The Budget Unit setup determines:

  • the level of organization and program to control
  • which Expenditure Object level you will control and post appropriations
  • whether appropriations will be controlled down to the Project/Phase level
  • whether appropriation controls are 'fatal' (i.e., expenditure transactions will not process without sufficient appropriation balance)

    The Budget Unit also determines the levels by which the agency wishes to control their allocations. Allocations usually have a lower level of control than the appropriation.

    There are steps that must be completed before SCO can enter the Budget Unit information into STARS. The first step involves changing various STARS tables (Descriptor or Budget Unit Tables) to reflect any changes to your agency structure.

    To set up a new Budget Unit, contact the Division of Financial Management (DFM). DFM will assign the four-digit Budget Unit code. DFM also establishes the State Goals and State Objectives per Budget Unit in order to collect data for the legislature. DFM may require you to establish extra Budget Units in order to separate Funds that have different appropriation control types. Those types of Budget Units are set up into categories.

    Once you identify all of the necessary budgetary control information, you can complete the Budget Unit Table (BU-20) form. The controls you set on a Budget Unit will affect all Funds within the Budget Unit.

Budget Control Levels

In the Budget Unit process (as well as in other budgetary control), STARS has the following levels of control:

Control LevelDescription
NO CONTROLThis level of control can allow processing of expenditures or encumbrances in excess of budgeted amounts. All transactions will post, and you should not receive any error messages. You can use this control for all levels of budget; however, the only time you will see it used at the appropriation level is for the “Continuous", “Deficiency Warrant", and “Miscellaneous" appropriation categories.
ADVISORY CONTROL (WARNING)This level of control will warn the agency in the daily error output that a transaction exceeds the budgeted amount. However, it will not stop the transaction from processing. This control can be used at the allocation level, and at the appropriation level to receive warning messages on appropriation categories that are usually No Control. You can establish this type of control per Budget Unit.
FATAL CONTROLThis level of control will stop the processing of any transaction that exceeds the budgeted amount. You must use this level at the appropriation level, but you may use this at the allocation level as well. You can establish this type of control per Budget Unit.  Use this control for the “Regular" appropriation categories.


Budget Unit Table Appropriations Categories

There are four categories of appropriations identified by the APPN CATEGORY on the Budget Unit Table. The ACFR (Annual ​Comprehensive Financial Report), as well as Legislative reporting, uses this information to categorize appropriations of a similar type.

Appropriation CategoryDescription
(R) REGULARRegular appropriations are the most common of appropriations set each year by the legislature in the form of House or Senate bills. These appropriations usually are specific amounts set for one year in duration. Use this for any Budget Unit requiring some type of an appropriation, which includes regular appropriations, non-cognizable appropriations, continuous appropriations where a cap amount is loaded, etc. In the Budget Unit citation field, you should enter the House or Senate bill numbers. All of these Budget Units should have an 'Appn_Ctl_Typ' of “1" (Fatal Control).
(C) CONTINUOUSThe legislature sets Continuous appropriations. These have no specific amount limitations. They base the maximum spending amount on the cash in the Fund on the Cash Control File. In the Budget Unit citation field, enter the Idaho Code section number. (See “R" if the continuous appropriation has a cap for the year.) All of these Budget Units should have an Appn_Ctrl_Typ of “0" (No Control).
(D) DEFICIENCY WARRANTThe legislature sets deficiency warrants appropriations. Their controls are more like the continuous appropriations with no set amount. The state uses these Budget Units mostly for emergencies where the State must act on disasters such as hazardous materials, pest eradication, etc. A supplemental appropriation is requested after-the-fact and may or may not cover the full deficiency amount by year-end. In the Budget Unit citation field, post the Idaho Code section number. All of these Budget Units should have an Appn_Ctrl_Typ of “0" (No Control).
(M) MISCELLANEOUSMiscellaneous appropriations are set up by DFM for non-state agencies such as for federally funded agencies or for independent body corporate politic agencies. The maximum spending amount is based on the cash in the Fund on the Cash Control File not a specific appropriation. The Appn_Ctrl_Typ should be “0" (No Control).

Appropriation Batch Release Instructions

  1. Enter the batch on STARS. Be sure the person entering the batch and batch header has the approval to enter appropriation batches. The Operator Class on STARS security determines who can enter appropriations.
  2. Once the batch is entered, have your batch-release person release it.
  3. After your agency releases the batch, contact your DFM analyst for their approval and release. Do this so they can review and approve the batch before 3:30 PM. You do not have to send the batch to DFM unless they request you do so.
  4. When DFM approves the batch online, they put the batch on the DFM Batch Release Log to send to the State Controller's Office by 3:30 PM. To determine if DFM has released the batch, view the F9 Batch Balancing screen on STARS. When DFM approves the batch, you will see their initials in the Batch Approved By section above AL6 (Approval Level 6). There must also be a User Approval Level of “6".
  5. Do not go back into the batch once DFM has released the batch except in the “View" mode. If you use the “Change" mode, you will override the DFM release. If this happens, SCO will not process the batch until it is re-released by DFM. This is a safeguard against changes to the batch after DFM approval. So, be sure to release the batch before contacting DFM for their release.
  6. Once SCO receives the DFM Batch Release Log, they will :
    1. Review the information in the batch to be sure they match the Data Entry Requirements of the transactions in the batch.
    2. When dealing with transactions other than Non-cognizable, Object transfers and Activity transfers, SCO also checks the appropriation bill or Idaho Code to be sure they match.
    3. SCO reviews the release approval section on the batch header to verify DFM's approval is still on the batch.
  7. When SCO verifies the batch meets the requirements, they will release the batch for processing in the nightly STARS IEU. You will see their initials in the Batch Approved By section above AL8 (Approval Level 8) and a User Approval Level of “8". NOTE: If you see DFM's initials and User Approval Level “6" on the batch for more than a day or two, check with your DFM analyst to be sure the batch is on the DFM Batch Release Log. SCO cannot release the batch unless it is on the log.
  8. Retain a copy of the batch in your office.

Online Appropriation File Inquires

The Appropriation File is on the STARS menu under I for Online File Inquiry and 62 under Record Inquiries for Appropriation File (AP) or 72 under Financial Inquiries for Appropriation File (AP).  Screen 62 has more detail information than screen 72.

The controls on the Budget Unit Table determine the level of structure that will post to the Appropriation File. The AP control on the Fund Detail (FUND/DET) determines whether the appropriation posts to the File at the Fund or Fund Detail level. The transaction code used on your transactions determines which Appropriation Type balances are posted to.

The normal balance for the Appropriation File is a negative. A negative BALANCE amount means you have that much appropriation left to spend.


Appropriation File Record Inquiry screen (62)

VERSION 3.1                      STARS—APPROPRIATION FILE RECORD INQUIRY                S062  

 AGENCY: 230   DIV: 20   BUR: 21   SEC:                UNIT:    BUDGET UNIT: CCAC             

 BFY: 00         TRANS YR: 00         FUNC: 02    ACTV:       PROG:         ELEM:                 

 FUND/DET: 0481 05 EXP OBJECT: 5000 PROJ/PH:                                  

 CM: X PM:   CP:   PP:   PY:            CUM: X ACTV:                                                                                                         

 INDEX: 2021 EXP SOBJ/DTL: 5000                 ENACT YEAR: 00                


ORIGINAL APPROP               8,578,800.00-               PY REAPPROPRIATION               0.00  

SUPPLEMENTAL                                  0.00                CLOSE CY REAPPROP                0.00  

GOV'S HOLDBACK                               0.00                REVERSION                                0.00  

BRD EXAM REDUCTION                       0.00                NON-COGNIZABLE                     0.00  

OBJECT TRANSFERS                           0.00                ACTIVITY TRANSFERS                0.00  

ENCUMBRANCES                                 0.00               CASH EXPENDITURES                0.00  

RECEIPTS TO APPROP                         0.00                                          

                                                                                                 BALANCE:       8,578,800.00- 

ACCRD EXPEND(MEMO)                       0.00              PRE-ENCUMB(MEMO)                   0.00  

The Appropriation File FINANCIAL Inquiry screen does not show the structure level of the appropriation such as the Division, Bureau, etc. You cannot select the screen by Fund, but you can press ENTER until you see the Fund you wish.

Where the Record Inquiry (62) screen shows detail field information, the Financial Inquiry (72) screen combines some of the fields together. TCs that post to their normal fields are TC 010 Original Appropriation, TC 019 Governor's Holdback, Expenditures and Encumbrances.

The Financial Inquiry (72) screen also has additional fields - the Percentage of Year Elapsed (PCNT OF YEAR ELAPSED) field, a Percentage of Year Expended (PCNT EXPEND) field, and a Percentage Obligated (PCNT OBLIGATED) field. This screen also shows the Budget Unit, Object and Fund/Detail in a different order.

You can compare these percentages to see if your expenditures or obligations (expenditures plus encumbrances) are comparable to the amount of the year that has passed.




AGENCY: 230   BUDGET UNIT:    CCAC ISCI - BOISE                                   

EXP OBJECT/DET:      5000            PERSONNEL COSTS                                    

BFY:   00       TRANS YR:     00                 PROJECT/PH:                                    

CM: X   PM:      CP:      PP:      PY:                              CUM:  X ACTV:                            

ENACT YR: 00                                                                   

FUND/DET: 0481 05    GENERAL FUND                                              

PCNT OF YEAR ELAPSED                          0.00                                          

ORIGINAL APPROP                     8,578,800.00-      EXPENDITURES                    4,597.02     

GOV'S HOLDBACK                                     0.00       PCNT EXPENDED                        0.00     

ADJUSTMENTS                                          0.00       ENCUMBERED                            0.00     

NET TRANSFERS                                       0.00        PCNT OBLIGATED                       0.00     

NET APPROPRIATION                  8,578,800.00-                                          

                                                                           **AVAILABLE BALANCE        8,574,202.98     


ACCRD EXPEND(MEMO)              0.00                       PRE-ENCUMB (MEMO)                 0.00     


The ADJUSTMENTS field combines:

  • TC 012 - PY Reappropriation
  • TC 015 - Supplemental
  • TC 017 - Close CY Reapprop
  • TC 021 - Reversion
  • TC 022 - Brd Exam Reduction
  • TC 025 - Non-Cognizable
  • TC 027 - Receipts to Approp

The NET TRANSFERS field combines:

  • TC 030 - Object Transfers
  • TC 031 - Activity Transfers

The NET APPROPRIATION shows the combined amount of the appropriation field without Expenditures or Encumbrances.  The AVAILABLE BALANCE is the appropriation left to spend.