Sponsored Award Expenditures

The PI is responsible for reviewing the terms and conditions in the award document, the approved award budget, and all applicable terms on the Award Requirements webpage prior to charging labor effort and purchasing goods and services using sponsored funds.

Direct Expenditures

Direct expenditures are costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.  In order for any labor effort or purchase to be charged directly to a sponsored project, it must be allowable, allocable, reasonable, and treated consistently.

Indirect (F&A) Expenditures

Indirect expenditures are expenses not able to be directly allocated to a specific project (i.e., general office supplies, clerical support, facility costs, etc.).  The University has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with the Office of Naval Research, our cognizant agency, to be applied to all sponsored research budgets. Indirect costs may also be termed Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs. Additional information can be found here: Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Rates

Personnel Expenditures on Sponsored Projects

Transactions for personnel affiliated with a sponsored project must be processed as soon as possible, but no later than 60 days after the PI is notified the award set-up has been completed.  If the sponsored project includes funds to support the PI, and/or other personnel (i.e., research faculty, graduate research assistants, wage employees, etc.), please work with your unit research administrator to charge current GMU employees to the project or hire new employees for the project.

PIs are obligated to ensure that all personnel related transaction forms (i.e., hiring, funding changes, and timesheets) on a sponsored project are submitted in a timely manner.  Failure to do so could cause disallowed cost transfers resulting in effort being charged to a non-sponsored funding source.

Helpful Resources for Personnel Expenditures:

Non-Personnel Expenditures on Sponsored Projects

PIs are obligated to ensure that all non-personnel expenditure forms on a sponsored project are submitted in a timely manner.  Failure to do so could cause disallowed cost transfers resulting in transactions being charged to a non-sponsored funding source.

Helpful Resources for Non-Personnel Expenditures:

International Travel

Grants from some federal agencies and many federal contracts require that international travel, even if included in the proposal budget, be approved in advance by the sponsoring agency. Before making arrangements for international travel that will be funded by a grant or contract, travelers should review the awarding agency requirements and the specific terms and conditions of the award to ensure compliance.  If the requirements are unclear, or there are any additional questions, travelers should consult the OSP post award research administrator assigned to their academic unit for assistance.

Fly America Act

Travel on sponsored projects to foreign countries supported by federal grants and contracts is subject to the “Fly America Act” (49 U.S.C. 40118; https://www.gsa.gov/policy-regulations/policy/travel-management-policy-overview/fly-america-act). The “Fly America Act” provides that federal domestic grantees should use U.S. flag air carriers to the maximum extent possible when commercial air transportation is the means of domestic travel or travel between the U.S. and a foreign country or between foreign countries. This requirement shall not be influenced by factors of cost, convenience, or personal travel preference.

A U.S. flag air carrier service may include service provided under a Code Share Agreement with a foreign air carrier when the ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, identifies the U.S. flag air carrier’s designator code and flight number.  This requirement applies to all GMU personnel, students, trainees, consultants, and collaborators that are reimbursed for air travel on federally sponsored awards. The Fly America Act Certification of Exception should be submitted in Mason Finance Gateway with the request for reimbursement if there is an allowable exception for use of a foreign carrier. If any segment of the trip is on a foreign carrier, appropriate documentation to support an exception must be provided (these may include travel itineraries from travel agents or results from online travel booking services from the booking day listing the available flights).   The Fly America Act Decision Tree can be utilized to determine when exceptions may be allowable.

Cost Transfers

A Cost Transfer is a transfer of labor or non-labor expenses to a federally funded sponsored project for an expense previously recorded elsewhere.

Unacceptable Practices

Unacceptable direct charging practices include:

  • Purchasing items simply to exhaust an unobligated balance.
  • Rotating charges among projects.
  • Assigning charges to a project on the basis of the remaining balance to resolve availability of funding issues or simply to avoid the loss of carry-forward balances.
  • Charging the budgeted amount (in contrast to an amount based on actual usage), unless the project allows a fixed price or other types of approved reimbursement method that does not require tracking of actual charges to the project.
  • Assigning charges to an award before the cost is incurred.
  • Charging an expense exclusively to a single award when the expense clearly has supported other activities.
  • Applying a unit “tax” to projects to distribute clerical and administrative expenses.
  • Transferring an overdraft from one sponsored project to another, without express sponsor approval.