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It is the policy of New York University (NYU, “the University”) that all costs proposed or incurred on a sponsored project comply with sponsor terms and conditions, NYU policies and procedures and applicable Federal, state and local regulations. NYU administers direct and indirect costs, on sponsored projects, in accordance with Federal and other sponsor requirements. The Principal Investigator (PI) is ultimately responsible for ensuring appropriate financial management, compliance with sponsor terms and conditions, as well as determining actual effort expended on a sponsored project.
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to PI's, schools, departments, units and personnel of the University for proposing and administering direct and indirect costs on sponsored projects, in accordance with Federal or other sponsor requirements.
This policy is applicable to all schools, departments, units and personnel of the University involved in administering sponsored awards.
For managing expenditures on Federal grants and contracts, NYU follows the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a021/a21_2004.html), Cost Accounting Standards, and NYU’s Disclosure Statement approved by the Division of Cost Allocation of the Department of Health and Human Services. OMB Circular A-21 establishes principles for determining costs applicable to Federally sponsored agreements, contracts and other agreements with educational institutions. Because NYU receives Federal funding exceeding $25 million, NYU's costing practices for sponsored awards must also comply with Cost Accounting Standards (CAS).
For awards funded by a non-Federal sponsor, the award terms and conditions generally dictate whether an expense – direct or indirect – can be charged to a project. However, when a sponsor’s terms and conditions allow an expense, but NYU policies and procedures or applicable Federal, state and city laws and regulations do not, the expense cannot be incurred. The more restrictive requirements apply.
Indirect costs are outlined in Section c of this policy. These costs cannot be charged as direct costs to Federally funded projects.
As defined in Federal cost principles, the primary activities of NYU are Instruction, Research, Other Sponsored Activities, Patient Care and Other Institutional Activities. Costs incurred to support these activities – such as salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials and supplies, travel, subcontracts, equipment, specialized service center charges and other operating expenses – are treated as direct costs and should be identified specifically with the benefiting projects and activities. If a direct cost benefits two or more sponsored agreements/projects, OMB Circular A-21 provides standards for allocation across these sponsored projects. Refer to Section d in this policy for more detail on allocation across sponsored agreements.
Direct charges to a sponsored agreement should support the sponsored agreement's purpose and activity and be necessary to meet the project's scientific and technical requirements. Charges cannot be assigned arbitrarily or for the purpose of simplifying budget management that is unrelated to the sponsored agreement's purpose. Direct charges to sponsored agreements are expected to adhere to the sponsor's restrictions in the Notice of Award and budget and to support the sponsor's programmatic intent.
Examples of acceptable direct costs that meet OMB Circular A-21 requirements cited above and "identifiable to a particular cost objective" are listed in Appendix 2.
For Federal awards, items such as salaries of administrative and clerical staff, office supplies, postage, local telephone costs (including monthly service charges) and membership dues are normally treated as indirect costs. However, for special purposes and circumstances, costs that are normally indirect may be directly charged if certain conditions are met. Refer to the Charging Administrative Expenses to Federal Awards Policy for further information.
The following direct costing practices are unacceptable because they do not meet A-21's standard for a "high degree of accuracy" in the assignment of costs to sponsored projects:
Indirect costs are those that are incurred for common or joint activities of the University and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity or any other University activity.
Expenses incurred for general departmental and institutional business are recognized as indirect costs. On Federal awards such costs include, but are not limited to: charges for administrative and clerical salaries, related fringe benefits, office supplies, postage, local telephone charges, cell phones (except when needed to meet programmatic objectives), office equipment, internet and other general costs.
Costs incurred for administrative and support services that benefit departmental activities and costs incurred by separate departments and organizations established primarily to administer sponsored projects are identified separately by account code in the financial records and recognized as indirect expenses.
In instances where Federally-sponsored projects require administrative and clerical support, office supplies, postage and telecommunications (expenses similar to the charges identified normally as administrative costs), such costs may be charged to sponsored projects as direct costs if they meet the criteria explained in the Charging Administrative Expenses to Federal Awards Policy.
“If a cost benefits two or more sponsored projects in proportions that can be determined without undue effort or administrative expense, the cost should be allocated to the sponsored projects based upon the proportional benefit. If a cost benefits two or more sponsored projects in proportions that cannot be determined because of the interrelationship of the work involved, then…the costs may be allocated or transferred to benefited projects on any reasonable basis..." [Circular A-21, C.4.d.(3)].
The proportional benefit rule is applied when the Principal Investigator (PI) authorizes the distribution of salary and fringe benefits across two or more funding sources, sponsored projects or institutional activities. This authorization should reflect the PI's best judgment of the proportional benefit of the salary and fringe benefit costs to each of the affected sponsored projects.
The Time & Effort Reporting verifies that the distribution of actual salaries and wages reflects the proportional distribution of compensation. Circular A-21 requires "confirmation of activity allocable to each sponsored agreement..." [§J.10.b.(2)(c)]. This method of payroll confirmation reflects an “after-the-fact” reporting of the percentage distribution of activity of employees. Reports should reasonably reflect the activities for which employees are compensated by the institution. The system should reflect activity applicable to each sponsored project. The Time & Effort Certification reports should be reviewed and approved as outlined in the University Effort Reporting Policy for Sponsored Programs.
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|Effective Date:||September 01, 2013|
|Issuing Authority:||Sponsored Programs Administration|
|Responsible Officer:||Assistant Vice President for Post-Award Administration|
The amounts expended for start-up, seed money, bid, and proposal are classified as "departmental research." An account which is set up to provide faculty with funds for release time to further academic knowledge may be included in the category of "departmental research."
OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions
The set of Federal regulations which establishes the principles for determining costs applicable to Federal grants, contracts and other agreements with educational institutions.
Research and development activities that are both separately budgeted and accounted for by the University and funded by the University rather than an external sponsor.