Mayor Vincent Gray has ordered a spending freeze for District of Columbia agencies that are directly under the mayor's control.
D.C. officials project that overspending by city agencies will reach $70 million or more by the end of the fiscal year.
The District is required by law to maintain a balanced budget, and agencies on track to overspend are told either to cut spending or to find new revenue.
The spending freeze applies to nonessential areas, including supplies and equipment and contractual services.
It does not apply to salaries, and dozens of agencies not directly under the mayor's control are exempt from the order.
However, the order does apply to D.C.'s public schools and the police and fire departments.