Administrative Costing Requirements for Proposals and Awards


This page outlines requirements for budgeting and charging administrative type expenses as direct costs on externally funded projects. These requirements apply to all federal and non-federal sponsored agreements. However, a cost normally treated as indirect may be directly charged to a non-federally sponsored agreement if permitted by the Sponsor's policies or otherwise agreed to by the Sponsor.

Effective Date: June 10,1998

Table of Contents

Administrative Salaries

  • Office of Management and Budget(OMB) Uniform Guidance states states that "the salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect costs." Direct charging of administrative, secretarial or clerical salaries is appropriate only where all of the following conditions are met:
    • An extensive amount of administrative or clerical work is required to carry out the project, and the administrative or clerical personnel are specifically listed and justified in the budget proposal
    • The individuals have responsibilities specifically related to the project and the effort devoted to the project is documented
    • The sponsoring agency accepts the cost as part of the project's direct cost budget.
    • Proposal budgets should clearly and thoroughly explain the need for administrative and clerical personnel.
    • 25% FTE will be the minimum threshold for charging administrative and clerical salaries. (When awarded, it will be a requirement of all split-funded personnel in this category to report weekly time sheets with additional information assigning percent effort to all accounts in support of the individual appointment. This system will be explained further at the time of accepting the terms and conditions of awards.
    • These rules apply to all requests for rebudgeting

Examples where direct charging administrative salaries may be appropriate

  • Large, complex programs, such as program projects and research centers and other grants and contracts that entail assembling and managing teams of investigators.
  • Projects which involve extensive data accumulation, analysis and entry, surveying, tabulation, cataloging, searching literature, and reporting
  • Projects that require making travel and meeting arrangements for large numbers of participants, such as conferences and seminars.
  • Projects whose principal focus is the preparation and production of manuals and large reports, books and monographs (excluding routine progress and technical reports).
  • Projects that are geographically inaccessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as seagoing research vessels, radio astronomy projects, and other research field sites that are remote from the campus.

Office Supplies, Postage and other Administrative Costs

  • Office stationery, pens, postage, express mail etc., subscriptions, local telephone, memberships and other general administrative expenses are typically considered indirect costs. Since these costs are normally treated as indirect costs, they cannot be charged directly to grants and contracts, unless the circumstances related to a particular program are clearly different from the normal operations of the institution.
    • For example, although postage is normally treated as an indirect cost, a particular program may have a special need for postage because of the mailing of hundreds of survey questionnaires. In this case, it would be appropriate to charge that program directly for the postage related to the questionnaires, since the postage for the questionnaires would constitute "unlike circumstances" compared to routine postage requirements.
  • Lab notebooks, computer paper, computer diskettes, and other items required for documenting the results of the research project are examples of costs that can be identified to a specific research project and are, therefore, allowable as direct costs.