Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


1.0
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Federal sponsors require that direct costs of research be related to specific
actions supported by a grant. These costs must be reasonable and necessary,
not exceeding the costs that would be incurred by a prudent person, and they
must be allowable, allocable, and easily identifiable as a benefit to the project
receiving the charge.

Because institutions provide infrastructure support that is not easily identifiable
with specific projects, they are allowed to apply Facilities and Administrative
(F&A; formerly indirect costs) support costs to federal grants and contracts on an
average rate basis to help offset the infrastructure costs. As required by the
federal Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21, the Colorado School of
Mines negotiates a Facilities and Administrative cost rate agreement with the
federal government to arrive at the F&A reimbursement rate. In the process of
developing the F&A rate proposal, a number of institutional cost pools are
applied to identify the indirect cost of conducting research. These cost pools
include obvious items, such as utilities, depreciation, library services, sponsored
program administration, and a portion of departmental and central personnel, to
be assigned to the institution’s research infrastructure costs. They also include
other “administrative” items (such as office supplies, postage, local telephone
costs, journals, and subscriptions) in proportion to research spending relative to
total institutional spending. Because the university is reimbursed for these
administrative supplies as a part of the F&A rate, the cost of these items cannot
be charged as direct costs.

Circular A-21 does allow these expenses to be charged directly to a sponsored
project in certain circumstances. Direct charging may be appropriate where a
major project or activity explicitly budgets for administrative or clerical
services/supplies, and these costs can be specifically identified with the project
or activity. Examples of major projects (taken from OMB Circular A-21, Exhibit
C) where it may be allowable to direct charge expenses that are normally treated
as F&A costs are identified in Appendix A. The examples are not exhaustive
nor are they intended to imply that direct charging of administrative or
clerical salaries or clerical supplies would always be appropriate for the
situations described above.

The purpose of this policy is to provide the institutional standard for determining
how costs are charged to grants, contracts and other sponsored projects whether
they are supported by federal or private funds.

Page 1 of 10




Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


2.0 DEFINITIONS:


2.1 OMB Circular A-21: A document from the Federal Office of Management
and Budget that defines cost principles for educational institutions, including
appropriate charges to Federal awards.

2.2 Cost Accounting Standards: The Cost Accounting Standards,
implemented in 1980 by the Cost Accounting Standards Board, outline
standards to achieve consistency in cost accounting practices. These
standards address the measurement, assignment, and allocation of costs to
the federal government.

2.3 Cost Sharing: Project expenses that are not reimbursed by the
sponsoring agency but contributed to the project by Mines and other
collaborators either voluntarily or as required by the sponsor.

2.4 Direct Costs: Expenses specifically associated with a particular grant,
contract or other sponsored project. Direct expenses must be specifically
identified as project activities with relative ease and a high degree of
accuracy.

2.5 Facilities and Administrative costs: (F&A - also referred to as
indirect costs or overhead) Costs associated with the conduct of sponsored
activities that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore are
not readily identifiable with a specific project.

2.6 Major Project: A project that requires an extensive amount of
administrative or clerical support/supply costs that are significantly greater
than the routine level of services provided by academic departments.

2.7 Allowable costs: According to OMB Circular A-21, expenses are
chargeable to grants, contracts and other sponsored projects only if they are:

2.7.1 Reasonable: A prudent person would have purchased this item and
paid this price. Considerations involved in the determination of the
reasonableness of a cost are whether or not the cost is of a type generally
recognized as necessary for the operation of the institution or the
performance of the sponsored project, federal and state regulations,
sponsored agreement terms and conditions, and the extent to which the
actions taken with respect to the incurrence of the cost are consistent with
established institutional policies and practices.
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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu



2.7.2 Allocable: Expenses can be assigned to the activity based on the
benefit derived. A cost is allocable to a grant, contract or sponsored
project if it is incurred solely to advance the work under the sponsored
agreement.

2.7.3 Consistently Treated: Like expenses must be treated the same in
like circumstances. OMB Circular A-21 states that no cost can be charged
to a grant, contract or other sponsored project as a direct charge if other
costs incurred for the same purpose in the same circumstances have
been included in the negotiated facilities and administrative cost rate. See
Appendix B

2.7.4 In conformity to any limitations or exclusions set forth in OMB
Circular A-21: A-21 defines categories of costs that are allowable as
direct costs, allowable as indirect costs, and unallowable.

3.0 POLICY


The Colorado School of Mines follows the general guidelines in sections D and E
of Circular A-21 in determining the treatment of costs as direct or indirect. Mines’
F&A costs are consistent with the definitions of specific F&A cost categories in
section F of Circular A-21. It is the responsibility of the university to ensure that
costs incurred for the same purpose, in like circumstances, are consistently
treated as either direct or F&A costs.

4.0
COST CATEGORIES

The following are lists of costs that are normally either direct, F&A, or
unallowable expenses on a sponsored project under “like” circumstances.

4.1 Normally Direct Costs: The following should normally be directly
charged to sponsored accounts. However, the terms of the specific
agreement and the sponsoring agency’s regulations must be reviewed
prior to determining the appropriateness of costs for an individual
project. Note also that direct costs must meet the criteria as stated
above, i.e., allowable, directly benefiting the project, reasonable, and
consistently treated.

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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


• Salaries and Wages/Employee Benefits: Faculty, technicians, research
associates and assistants, including graduate research assistants and
other students performing scientific or technical work, post doctoral
associates and other technical and programmatic personnel necessary to
meet the goals of the project.

• Professional and Consulting Fees: Specific restrictions may apply to
hourly and daily rates. An individual may not normally be an employee and
a consultant on the same sponsored agreement.

• Repairs and maintenance: Costs incurred for necessary maintenance,
repair, or upkeep of property or equipment (purchased as a direct charge
to the project) keeping it in an efficient operating condition.

• Special purpose equipment: equipment that is used only for research,
medical, scientific, or other technical activities.

• Supplies: Laboratory and scientific supplies, chemicals, glassware, field
supplies, compressed gases and liquids, radioactive material, and
animals. These items should be charged to projects based on benefit
derived. If multiple projects are being supported in one lab there must be a
reasonable method of documenting allocation of charges to all projects.

• Telephone: long distance charges necessary to carry out the objectives of
the sponsored project.

• Travel required to carry out the objectives of the sponsored project.

• Food costs for routine operations or staff meals are allowable in the
course of travel or as part of a bona fide meeting related to the terms of
the project. For seminars, food costs may be appropriate as a direct cost
when related to the specific needs of the agreement, in which case they
are usually authorized as part of the agreement. Documentation, including
the names of those in attendance, CSM or non-CSM employee, must be
provided in order to directly charge food to a sponsored agreement.

4.2 Normally F & A costs: The following are normally treated as F&A
costs and are not directly charged to sponsored agreements nor used
as cost sharing. These costs are charged to institutional funds and
recovered through applications of the F&A rate.
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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu



• Accounting and audit costs.

• Computer Services or Use Fees: Routine, standard computer services,
hookups and networking costs, including ITS/Networking costs.

• Salaries and Wages/Employee Benefits: Administrative and clerical
positions such as administrative assistants, accountants, office personnel,
student office workers, purchasing agents and buyers; administrative
activities of directors and assistant/associate directors, executive
assistants, and other administrators.

• General purpose equipment: Equipment not limited to research, medical,
scientific or other technical activities. Examples of general-purpose
equipment include office equipment (personal computers, FAX machines,
typewriters, copiers) and furnishings (desks, chairs, and file cabinets), air
conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, and motor
vehicles.

• Legal services, insurance, general recruitment advertising, repair and
maintenance of general purpose equipment and facilities.

• Supplies: Office supplies (printers, scanners, paper, toner, post-its,
markers, hole punchers, binders, folders, forms,) custodial supplies, parts
and supplies associated with repair and maintenance of general purpose
equipment and facilities, general purpose books and reference materials.

• Library costs/collections/acquisitions.

• Travel related to administrative activities.

• Postage (including express delivery, etc.)

• Basic telephone service, installation, repair, and line charges; fax line
charges; cellular phone purchase and use fees; utilities.

• Dues/memberships
in
professional and technical organizations,
subscriptions (other than those specifically required for the performance of
the sponsored activity).

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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


4.3 Unallowable Costs: The following types of costs may not be
charged to a federally sponsored agreement either directly or as F&A
costs. This is a quick reference. Please be aware that there are some
exceptions to some of the categories listed.

• Advertising, Public Relations and Promotional Costs
• Alcoholic beverages
• Alumni activities
• Awards, prizes, trophies
• Bad debts
• Commencement
Costs
• Contingency provisions
• Entertainment costs
• Fines and penalties
• Flowers,
gifts
• Food costs for routine operations or staff meals
• Fund raising and investment management costs
• First class or other non-coach class travel
• Goods or services not specified by the agreement
• Housing and personal living expenses
• Interest, fund raising and investment management costs
• Memberships in social, dining, country clubs, or civic organizations
• Parking
tickets
• Selling and Marketing
• Student
activities

5. 0 APPROVAL OF EXCEPTIONS

Federal regulations state that sponsor approval of a budget does not constitute
approval of each specific line item. The sponsor assumes that researchers at
CSM have complied with A-21, the Cost Accounting Standards, our F&A
proposal assumptions, and any other applicable regulations. If a Principal
Investigator believes that any of the normally F&A costs listed above are
appropriate as direct costs, they should be included in the proposal budget and
be fully justified on the basis of the unique or mitigating scientific/technical needs
of the project. Requests for direct charging of items normally considered to be
F&A must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Research Administration
(ORA). If the Principal Investigator determines that there is a need for these
types of costs but they were not included and justified in the original budget
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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


submitted to the sponsor or to the Office of Research Administration, the
Principal Investigator may request an exception to direct charge the costs. In
accordance with Circular A-21 requirements, CSM requires written justification to
be provided to ORA for an item normally considered an F&A cost to be directly
charged to a sponsored project. The justification must specifically address how
the cost would benefit the project, how the charge would be assigned to the
project with a high degree of accuracy, and what the unique or mitigating
scientific/technical needs of the project are.

A satisfactory justification will answer the following questions:
• Does the cost provide a direct benefit to the purpose or objective of the
project?
• Does the cost meet the requirements of a direct cost?
• Can the cost be specifically identified with a project with relative ease and
with a high degree of accuracy, and is it allowed by the terms and
conditions governing the particular award?
• For clerical and administrative salaries, do the facts and circumstances
meet the criteria to qualify as an exception as described by the OMB
guidelines?

The justification must be submitted to the Grants Administrator. ORA shall be
responsible for review and approval of exceptions and shall have final decision
authority.

6.0 RESPONSIBILITY


Principal Investigators are responsible for assuring that the costs assigned to
projects are appropriate. Principal Investigators and their department are
responsible for any disallowance from external or internal audit and review.

Caution should be exercised in requesting and approving the direct charging of
costs normally treated as F&A costs. Restricted cost categories and other
inappropriate charges can be readily detected in audits, resulting in
disallowances that must be reimbursed to the federal government. In recent
years, several institutions have had sponsored program audit findings resulting
from direct charging items that are normally considered F&A costs. The items
charged were disallowed, and the institutions were required to return the funds to
the federal government and lost the ability to use those funds for allowable
charges.

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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


Departments should contact ORA directly regarding fiscal/administrative matters.

7.0
APPENDIX A: Charging Normally Indirect Costs as Direct Costs

The following are examples of exceptional circumstances to possibly
charge normally indirect costs as direct costs:

7.1 Administrative/Managerial/Clerical Salaries/Wages/Benefits: These
costs may only be authorized for large complex projects when the nature of
the work performed requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical
support. Such costs might be appropriate for:

7.2 Large complex programs: such as program projects and other
agreements that entail assembling and managing teams of investigators from
a number of departments or institutions.

• Projects that involve extensive data accumulation, entry and analysis,
surveying, tabulation, cataloging, searching literature and reporting.

• Projects that require travel and meeting arrangements for large numbers
or participants, such as conferences and seminars.

• Projects whose principal focus is the preparation and production of
manuals and large reports, books and monographs (this does not include
routine progress and technical reports or scientific manuscripts).

• 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.

• Individual projects requiring project-specific-database management;
individualized graphics or manuscript preparation;

7.3 General Purpose Equipment: Computers, printers, and other selected
items may be appropriate as a direct cost when the Principal Investigator is
able to certify that the equipment is necessary for the unique scientific/
technical tasks of the specific agreement. For example, a computer that is
only used to store and access a large scientific database may be appropriate
as a direct cost. A computer used for processing reports, manuscripts,
Page 8 of 10




Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


correspondence and publications would not be appropriate. Use Justification
for Purchase of General Purpose Equipment form located at:
http://www.is.mines.edu/ora/General%20Purpose%20Equipment%20Form.xls.

7.4 Membership Dues: Appropriate as a direct charge on an exception
basis only: (1) where membership is a mandatory requirement of the specific
agreement; or (2) for training/fellowship programs where the membership is
authorized for a trainee as part of the trainee’s development/training program;
or (3) where the membership is required/included as part of the registration
costs for a conference and participation in the conference is directly related to
the specific needs of the agreement.

7.5 Office Supplies: Extraordinary costs for office supplies used specifically
for the technical/scientific needs of the agreement may be appropriate as a
direct cost. For example: Paper, envelopes or computer paper, used as part
of a survey mailed to participants for an epidemiological study may be
appropriate. (Paper, envelopes or computer paper used as part of the
administration of the project or for routine correspondence and publications
would not be appropriate.)

7.6 Postage: Extraordinary cost for postage, Federal Express or courier
directly related to the scientific/technical needs of the agreement may be
appropriate. For example: Cost of shipping project samples to a laboratory or
a collaborator for analysis may be appropriate, as would cost for mailing large
epidemiological surveys. (Mailing cost for routine correspondence or mailing
proposals, manuscripts, or reports would not be appropriate.)

7.7 Subscriptions/Books/Periodicals: Cost may be appropriate as a direct
cost when the Principal Investigator is able to certify that the publication is a
necessary requirement for the scientific/technical completion of the specific
agreement and that it does not benefit other agreements or activities.
(Publications that provide a general benefit to research and teaching activities
would not be a direct cost.)

7.8 Telephone: The cost of telephone lines may be appropriate for a project
requiring extensive telephone surveying where the function of specified staff
is to telephone respondents. Cost would only be permitted for the dedicated
lines, not for all telephone services supporting the lab or office in which the
project is based. (Local telephone charges are not appropriate where the
purpose is to provide general telephone accessibility to the staff or a lab).

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Direct Charging Policy
Responsible Administrative Unit:
Finance & Administration


Policy Contact:
Issued: November 2009
Director of Research Administration
Revised:
Ralph.Brown@is.mines.edu


Pagers/cellular telephone cost may be appropriate for an individual whose
primary task is to travel from location to location to gather data or conduct
patient surveys and that person must maintain contact on a continual basis,
as part of the specific needs of the agreement. Cost would be allowable only
if the pager/cellular telephone is being used solely to support the project. (In
the case of an individual who has multiple duties or works on several
agreements or where the pager/cellular telephone is not an integral part of the
specific tasks associated with the agreement, cost of a pager/cellular
telephone would not be appropriate as a direct cost. If the pager/cellular
telephone is needed primarily because the person needs to be reachable by
staff, such cost may not be directly charged to a sponsored agreement.)

8.0
APPENDIX B: Demonstrating “Unlike Circumstances”

Cost Accounting Standards require consistent treatment of costs in “like
circumstances” across an institution. Consequently, “unlike circumstances” must
be demonstrated/justified if a cost that is normally considered F&A is to be
budgeted charged and reported.

The following arguments cannot be used to demonstrate “unlike circumstances”:
• The sponsor has approved the item without review by the university.
• The department does not have sufficient F&A cost money returned to
support projects.
• The sponsor limits or will not pay F&A costs.
• The sponsor is willing to pay for the cost as a direct charge
• The department does not have enough funds to pay for general research
supplies
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