Department Program Codes

A program is defined as a group of interdependent or interrelated activities directed toward the achievement of a common goal or objective. A department's program structure shows the relationships of the department's various activities to its hierarchy of goals and objectives. This program structure must be maintained to provide consistency in program identification across fiscal years in the databases of the State's computerized budget, accounting, and fiscal information systems.


    Department programs will be coded with a ten digit (numeric) code as follows but cannot include all zeros within each program part:

    Program Element Component Task

    The following rules apply in coding a program structure:

    1. Codes cannot be reused: Once a program code has been established and used for a specific purpose within a department for fiscal accountability and reporting, the same program code cannot be reused in subsequent years for a different program.
    2. Hierarchical structure must be maintained: A higher program part must always be defined whenever a lower level part is defined. For example, if a program code 20.30.010 is defined, then program parts 20 (program) and 20.30 (element) must also be defined.
    3. A new code must be used if programs change: When programs are split or merged, new codes must be assigned to identify and define the new programs and the old codes used until the appropriations revert and the displays are no longer needed (see paragraph A.1.).
    4. Justification for each change: Specific reference, when appropriate, will be included in the Governor's Budget. For example, in the "Detail of Appropriations and Adjustments" section a notation "Chapter XXX, Statutes of 20XX" would be sufficient if the change came about because of wording in that legislation.
    5. The Administration program must contain two elements:
      1. Element 01, Administration — is used for charges.
      2. Element 02, Distributed Administration — is used for recoveries.
    6. Program code numbering conventions should allow room for growth but cannot include 00 or 95 through 99: Codes will be established by each department in cooperation with the Department of Finance. Code sequences should be established to allow for future reorganizations and additions. A program part cannot include all zeros (i.e., program cannot include 00, element cannot include 00, component cannot include 000, and task cannot include 000). Codes 95 through 99 are reserved for special uses.

    Not all of a department's programs will contain all of the lower levels of detail; e.g., elements, components, and tasks. Departments may keep their internal program accounting records (including CALSTARS records) in greater detail than the Governor's Budget. Departments with single goals or objectives should not allow significant items to be submerged so low in one program as elements, components, or tasks that their scheduling in the Budget Bill becomes cumbersome. Generally, single goal departments should opt for several programs instead of one program with several elements if program subdivision is needed.


    Program codes 95 through 99 are reserved for special uses as follows:

    1. Transfer Program and Loan Repayment

      This program code is used with appropriations that authorize transfers or loans between funds and that do not identify specific department programs. The funding source used for Program 95 is "Z".

    2. Undistributed Multi-Program Cost

      This code is used to identify costs or variances collected in cost centers for subsequent distribution to line programs and funding sources; e.g., telephone costs which cannot reasonably be charged in the first instance to all of the affected program levels/funding sources of a department. Use of this code applies only to the recording of expenditures. This program will not be displayed in the Governor's Budget or Budget Act.

    3. Unallocated

      97.10 Special Adjustments — Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs).

      97.20 Other Unallocated

      These codes include unallocated portions of appropriated funds. No expenditures can be recorded against these codes.

    4. State-Mandated Local Programs

      This code is intended to identify all State-Mandated Local Program costs. The California Constitution, Article XIIIB, Section 6, requires the State to provide a subvention of funds to reimburse local entities for costs incurred in compliance with various state mandates. Each mandate will have a separate schedule number comprised of (1) the appropriate program number assigned to the "State-Mandated Local Programs" program, and (2) the chapter number (cannot include all zeros) and the year it was enacted for the mandated program (cannot include all zeros).

      Program code to State-Mandated Local Programs Conversion:

      Program Element Component.Task
      98 01 XXX.XXX
          Chapter Number / Year of Enactment

      All state mandates will be paid by the State Controller's Office from departmental appropriations authorized for this purpose. The Commission on State Mandates' Budget (8885) provides an informational summary of all state-mandated costs.

    5. Clearing Account for CALSTARS Agencies

      This code is intended for, but not limited to, use with the CALSTARS Clearing Account or other Internal Service Funds such as the Water Resources Revolving Fund.


    The objective of a statewide capital outlay coding structure is to (1) provide consistency in project identification across fiscal years and in the various automated state budgetary and accounting systems; and (2) provide unique identification for a project from inception to completion.

    The statewide project code, as shown in the Governor's Budget and Budget Bill/Act, will generally be a seven digit code comprised of the first seven digits (Program, Element, Component) of the ten digit program code. The only exception to this rule will be when a project has more than one phase scheduled separately in the same appropriation (reference number and fund). As a general policy, this situation should be discouraged unless the Legislature appropriates in this manner.

    In this instance, the additional three digits (Task) of the program code will be used to distinguish the separately scheduled phases. The assignment of the last three digits will be made by the Department of Finance Capital Outlay and Financial Operations Units when it is deemed necessary.

    1. Program Code to Capital Outlay Code Conversion:

      Program Element Component Task
      Program Location Project Year of Appropriation
      and Sequencer
    2. Code Definition:
    • Program — The two digit (cannot include 00) agency-specific program code will denote the capital outlay "program" within a department's overall program structure (this is not applicable to the Departments of Transportation and Water Resources).
    • Element — The two digit (cannot include 00) element code will denote the applicable locations for major capital outlay projects for institutional and non-institutional departments with location breakdown. For those projects of a general nature not identified to a specific location, an agency-specific code will be assigned for "Minor Capital Outlay". When developing the location codes, departments need to allow for expansion in the coding structure (e.g., plan for any new locations).
    • Component — The three digit (cannot include 000) component code will denote the projects. If possible, numbering should be "by fives" or "by tens" to allow for expansion. These should be unique to each location (element).
    • Task — The three digit (cannot include 000) task code can only be assigned by Department of Finance Capital Outlay and Financial Operations Units when a project has more than one phase scheduled separately in the same appropriation (reference number and fund). Of the three digit code, the first two would identify the year of the appropriation and the third would be a sequencer. In all cases the title of the project and the seven digit code will remain the same, with descriptive language identifying the phase or separate phases in the various appropriations and schedules.

Questions concerning material contained in this section should be directed to your Department of Finance Budget Analyst.

Comments or questions regarding this page should be directed to California State Department of Finance, Fiscal Systems and Consulting Unit, at (916) 324-0385 or via email at FSCU Hotline.

Last updated: May 2011