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:
- Reasonable - If the nature and amount of the expenditure reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the same circumstances.
- 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.
- Consistently Treated - Through application of generally accepted accounting principles.
- 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.