Monitoring Budgets and Expenses

  • What are "allowable" expenses to charge to my award?

    It is the principal investigator's/project manager's responsibility to ensure that the funding he or she has received is expended for charges that are "allowable" for the project in question.  Guidance is provided in OMB Circular A-21, and general provisions for selected items of cost are more specifically addressed in Section J, but in general for an expense to be considered allowable for direct-charging to an award, it must first satisfy four conditions:

    1. Reasonable - If the nature and amount of the expenditure reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the same circumstances.
    2. Allocable - Chargeable or assignable in that is it either incurred solely to advance the project work or has a reasonable basis for proportional assignment.  Note that items generally covered by indirects (e.g. office supplies, administrative personnel, facilities costs) should not be assigned to sponsored projects.  If the project is considered a "major project" per the definition in Circular A-21 Exhibit C, administrative personnel may be direct-charged to an award. Contact your Sponsored Programs Administrator if you are unsure whether your proposal qualifies as a major project. 
    3. Consistently Treated - Through application of generally accepted accounting principles.
    4. Conforming to any limitations or exclusions either specific to the sponsor or to OMB Circular A-21.

    Questions regarding the allowability of costs should be directed to the Cost Accounting Unit of the Office of Sponsored Programs. You may also choose to view the Power Point file in our Training section of the website.

  • May grant budgets be used as the default account budget for a purchasing card?
    No.  Due to the risk associated with incorrectly charging items to sponsored projects, those budgets may not be selected as default purchasing card budgets.  For more information on purchasing cards, see the Purchasing Card section of the Business Systems and Accounting Services website.
  • What kind of reports are available to help me monitor expenses posting to my award?
    There are a number of Banner reports available that your departmental grant administrator can run and provide to you.  OSP is working to make those directly available to PIs.  The ones you will most likely use are as follows, along with a link to the Banner Forms and Reports manual:
    • Itemization of Expenses by Period (FWRITEM):  This report can be run for any time period by budget number and provides either expenses by expense code (e.g. Lab Supplies) in its summary form, or expenses by invoice in its detailed form.  This report allows you to see all expenses that posted to a given budget.  Note that items still in processing will not be included; work with your departmental grant administrator to determine any pending expenses.
    • Grant Inception to Date Summary (FWRSUMR):  This report is a one page summary by primary expense code (e.g. travel) of the budget, the expenses, the encumbrances, the balances by category and in total, and the percent of time and percent of funding remaining for a given award.  It is a good snapshot of your rate of spending vs time remaining.
    • Payroll Summary (NWRPREX):  This gives a summary of payroll and fringe by person by period and is useful for determining whether personnel are being charged appropriately to the project(s) they are working on.
    • Banner Forms and Reports Manual
  • How will I know whether there are rebudgeting restrictions on my award?

    OSP makes an effort to add budgetary restriction information to the information contained in your Notice of Award that you will receive at award set up.  It is important to review those restrictions and also take time to review the award document and any agency guidelines for more specific information.

  • What should I do if my project expenses don't turn out as I planned?
    If there are no budgetary restrictions on your award then generally you may move up to 25% of budgeted line items to other categories.  Request the transfer from your departmental grant administrator along with a brief explanation of the need for the transfer to be provided for audit purposes.  Any budgetary changes that fall into the restricted category (over 25% or other sponsor limitation) must have prior approval from an authorized official of the sponsor.  Please provide a rebudget request letter to the Office of Sponsored Programs Post Award for review and AOR signature.