On December 26, 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards,” or Uniform Guidance (UG). The Uniform Guidance consolidated, streamlined and superseded eight OMB Circulars, including Circulars A-21, A-110 and A-133. The new guidance took effect on December 26, 2014.
- Administrative/Clerical Salaries
- Computing Devices
- Cost Share
- Entertainment Costs
- Faculty Disengagement
- Indirect Cost Rate – Federal Agency Recognition of Full Negotiated Indirect Cost Rates
- Participant Support Costs
- Prior Approvals
- Subrecipient Monitoring and Management
- Subrecipient Indirect Cost Rate
- Visa Charges
Can direct charge administrative/clerical salaries if they meet the following:
- Are integral to the project (check Uniform Guidance Subpart A – Acronyms and Definitions for more information on definition of “integral”)
- Individuals can be specifically identified with the project or activity;
- Costs are explicitly included in the budget or have prior written approval; and
- Costs are not also recovered as indirect costs
Computing devices (laptops, desktops, software, etc.) NOT considered a depreciable asset by NC State University may be charged as supplies
- Items must be essential and allocable.
- Not required to be solely dedicated to a single project
Definition: Computing devices means machines used to acquire, store, analyze, process, and publish data and other information electronically, including accessories (or ‘‘peripherals’’) for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information.
Very similar to A-21 with these additions:
- As needed, the costs of identifying, but not providing, locally available dependent-care resources are allowable.
- Conference hosts/sponsors must exercise discretion and judgment in ensuring that conference costs are appropriate, necessary and managed in a manner that minimizes costs to the Federal award
- Must be included in the notice of funding opportunity
- Voluntary committed is not expected
- Cannot be used as a factor during merit review
- Prior approval to use uncollected F&A as cost share match
Costs of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, and social activities and any associated costs are unallowable.
UG Provides exception. If entertainment costs have a programmatic purpose and are authorized either in the approved budget for the Federal award or with prior written approval of the Federal awarding agency, the costs are allowable
The Uniform Guidance recognizes that PIs can be engaged in projects even if not physically on-campus.
- Investigators must notify their College Research Office so that they can work directly with SPARCS to make sure the federal sponsor is aware if an investigator will be “disengaged” from any project for more than 3 months or if there is a 25% reduction in time committed to the project from the approved budget.
- Applicable Uniform Guidance §200.308
Indirect Cost Rate – Federal Agency Recognition of Full Negotiated Indirect Cost Rates
- The negotiated rates must be accepted by all Federal awarding agencies unless a different rate is required by Federal statue or regulation, or when approved by a Federal awarding agency head or delegate based on a justification.
- Federal agency head or delegate must notify OMB of any approved deviations from negotiated rates.
- Agency must include in the notice of funding opportunity the policies relating to indirect cost rate reimbursement, matching, or cost share as approved
Participant Support Costs
- Participant Support Costs are specifically excluded from MTDC
- Allowable with prior approval of the Federal Awarding Agency
- Definition: Participant support costs means direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects.
Prior Approvals – mentioned in multiple sections of the UG
These examples from the UG represent areas where Prior Approval is required. It is unclear at this time how individual Federal awarding agencies will incorporate them.
- 200.306 Cost sharing or matching. … c) Unrecovered indirect costs, including indirect costs on cost sharing or matching may be included as part of cost sharing or matching only with the prior approval of the Federal awarding agency.
- 200.332 Fixed amount subawards. With prior written approval from the Federal awarding agency, a pass-through entity may provide subawards based on fixed amounts up to the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, provided ….
- 200.413 Direct costs. (c) The salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect (F&A) costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate only if all of the following conditions are met: (1) Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity; (2) Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity; (3) Such costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the Federal awarding agency; and (4) The costs are not also recovered as indirect costs.
- 200.407 Prior written approval (Prior Approval). … the non-Federal entity may seek the prior written approval of the cognizant agency for indirect costs or the Federal awarding agency in advance of the incurrence of special or unusual costs. Prior written approval should include the timeframe or scope of the agreement.
- 200.440 Exchange rates. … Cost increases for fluctuations in exchange rates are allowable costs subject to the availability of funding, and prior approval by the Federal awarding agency.
- 200.456 Participant support costs. Participant support costs as defined in §200.75 Participant support costs are allowable with the prior approval of the Federal awarding agency.
Subrecipient Monitoring and Management
Increased requirements for subrecipient review and monitoring
- Risk Assessment
- Analyze financial and programmatic reports
- Follow up on all deficiencies
- Issue management decisions
Subrecipient Indirect Cost Rate
Any non-federal entity (state, local government, Indian tribe, institution of higher education or nonprofit organization) that has never had a negotiated indirect cost rate may use a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC) indefinitely. The only exception is a governmental department or agency unit that receives more than $35 million in direct Federal funding must submit an indirect cost proposal. This will allow very small entities to recover 10% of MTDC from the federal government to share in the cost of operations.
- Commercial airfare, least expensive unrestricted accommodations is allowed (However, we are limited by University travel regulations “Transportation by commercial airlines is limited to actual coach fare, substantiated by receipt”.)
- Must justify that (1) participation of the individual is necessary to the Federal award…
- Documentation of “necessary”.
Visa Charges (under Recruiting Costs)
Short-term, travel visa costs (as opposed to longer-term, immigration visas) are generally allowable expenses that may be proposed as a direct cost. Since short-term visas are issued for a specific period and purpose, they can be clearly identified as directly connected to work performed on a Federal award. For these costs to be directly charged to a Federal award, they must:
- Be critical and necessary for the conduct of the project;
- Be allowable under the applicable cost principles;
- Be consistent with the non-Federal entity’s cost accounting practices and non-Federal entity policy; and
- Meet the definition of ‘‘direct cost’’ as described in the applicable cost principles.
Navigating the Uniform Guidance
For ease of navigation, the Uniform Guidance is broken down into its following subparts:
Preamble – Major Policy Reforms
Subpart A (200.0 – 200.99) – Acronyms and Definitions
Subpart B (200.100 – 200.113) – General Provisions
Subpart C (200.200 – 200.211) – Pre Award Requirements
Subpart D (200.300 – 200.345) – Post Award Requirements
Subpart E (200.400 – 200.475) – Cost Principles
Subpart F (200.500 – 200.521) – Audit Requirements (includes Appendices I-XI) – Subpart F will apply to audits of fiscal years beginning on or after December 26, 2014
Federal Agency Resources
- COFAR Webinar on Uniform Guidance Implementation – 10/2/2014
- FAQs for OMB’s Uniform Guidance – updated 11/26/2014
- The Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) – this site contains FAQs, webinars, and side-by-side crosswalks
- Federal Register – Final Guidance -Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards – this is the full, final guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on 12/26/13.
- Federal contracts, as opposed to Federal grants and cooperative agreements, are subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), in addition to the Uniform Guidance. However, read carefully FAQ for 200.101, “Applicability of Uniform Guidance to FAR based contracts.” FAR provided here as a reference:
- Acquisition Central – FAR
- 48 CFR (FAR in electronic Code of Federal Regulations)