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FAQs

1. Who establishes a spending account and budget for sponsored research projects?

The Research Accounting Office establishes a spending account and budget within the university’s financial system (Workday) for all sponsored research projects.

2. When does a spending account and budget for a sponsored research project get setup and how long does it take to process?

Upon receiving a Post Award Worksheet from the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Research Accounting Office will review and setup within 2 business days. It may take additional time if financial reporting information needs to be further verified.

3. Who processes amendments or no cost extensions for sponsored research projects and how long does it take to process?

Upon receiving post award worksheet information of an amendments or no cost extension from the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Research Accounting Office will review and setup within 2 business days from receiving. It may take additional time if financial reporting information needs to be further verified.

4. What support documentation is needed in order to request Gift Card purchases for Research Study Subjects?

(1) IRB approval letter or email approval from Research Integrity along with (2) an approved participant consent form must be provided for all gift card purchase requests.

5. How do I determine if a transaction is over 90 days which requires a Cost Transfer Form?

The accounting date of the transaction is used to determine whether a transaction is over 90 days. If over 90 days, a Cost Transfer Form is required to be submitted with the transfer and is available at http://www.fau.edu/research/docs/forms/research-accounting/Cost%20Transfer%20Request_over%2090%20Calendar%20Days.pdf .

6. What sponsor does not allow/permit over 90-day cost transfers?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) does not allow transfers beyond 90 days.

7. Who is responsible for approving and monitoring expenditures?

Principal Investigators and their designees (Grant Managers) are responsible for reviewing and approving expenditures to ensure the expense is included in the approved budget or in an approved re-budget request, the funds are available, the transaction is allowable, allocable and reasonable for the project and is properly documented. The Research Accounting Office is also responsible for reviewing and approving expenditure request as additional oversight to ensure financial compliance.

8. What type of expenditures are not allowable at the end of a project?

Expenditures submitted within the last 30 days of the project period may be considered arbitrary and not allowable if they are: (1) not necessary for the completion of the project, (2) used to expend the remaining balance of the project funds or (3) used to cover costs from another project.

9. How do I determine whether an expense request is allowable?

10. Expenditures charged to a sponsored research project must meet the allowability, allocability and reasonableness guidelines and treated consistently as described in Uniform Guidance along with any sponsored agreement specific requirements.

10. What type of expenditures would not be considered allowable?

Expenditures typically not allowable include:

  • Not necessary for the performance of the project
  • Does not benefit the project
  • Advances or prepayments (i.e. no travel advances) on federal and federal-flow projects
  • Charged based upon a budgeted amount; the amount must be based upon actual usage
  • Disguised as an allowable cost that is unallowable (i.e., misclassify a cost as something that it isn’t)
  • Rotated costs among projects
  • Overspent costs from other projects to “use up the funds”
  • Charged arbitrarily to a project with the largest remaining balance or to a project with the earliest expiration date.
  • Intended to use up unobligated balances

11. Is it allowable to charge travel for a student on a grant whom is not being paid from the grant, receiving a stipend or tuition waiver or is cost shared for their effort?

It is not allowable to charge travel for a student on a grant whom is not being paid from the grant, receiving a stipend or tuition waiver or is cost shared for their effort.

12. What is the capitalization threshold for equipment? When purchasing capitalized equipment, is there a specific classification in order to identify?

The university’s capitalization threshold is $5,000.00 and the additional worktag “Expense Treatment: Equipment” is required along with the smarttag.

13. Are equipment purchases allowed within the last 90 days of the project end date?

Purchases of equipment are allowable in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award. However, purchases of equipment requested within 90 days of the end of a sponsored research project require a written justification from the Principal Investigator and prior approval from the sponsor.

14. Are Principal Investigators required to approve sub-award invoices? Are there any exceptions?

Lead Principal Investigators are responsible for the review and approval of sub-award invoices in order to ensure that expenses are submitted in a timely manner, allocable and reasonable, incurred within the period of performance and aligned with technical progress. The Lead PI is deemed the sole expert in this determination; therefore, alternate approval or approving by a delegate is not allowable.

15. Are there any special requirements when purchasing a laptop computer, tablet or iPad?

If a laptop computer, tablet or iPad is not listed within the budget or budget justification than an Administrative Expense Form is needed in order to identify the purpose and use by selecting the type of research project and the primary user and location. The Administrative Expense Form is available at http://www.fau.edu/research/docs/forms/research-accounting/administrative_expense_form_nov2015.pdf

16. What support documentation is needed when submitting a travel spend authorization for a grant/award?

A conference announcement or meeting agenda that identifies the travel dates and location needs to be included as support documentation for travel authorizations charged to a grant/award. If a conference announcement or meeting agenda is not available, please complete a Travel Information Sheet available at http://www.fau.edu/research/docs/forms/research-accounting/travel_information_form.pdf .

17. What is Institutional Base Salary (IBS)?

Institutional Base Salary (IBS) is defined as the annual compensation paid by Florida Atlantic University for an employee’s appointment, whether that individual’s time is spent on instruction, research, patient care, or other institutional activities. IBS includes regular salary, compensation for instruction, research, patient care or other institutional activities. IBS does not include fringe benefit payments, reimbursed expenses, bonuses, supplemental compensation, one-time payments, incentive payments, salary paid directly by another organization and income that an individual is permitted to earn outside of their University responsibilities (i.e. consulting).

18. Are students that are paid from federal and federal flow-thru awards required to have a completed RCR/CITI Training certificate on file?

Yes, students are required to have RCR/CITI Training certification in order to work on federal and federal flow-thru awards/grants.

19. What is the method for determining whether the NIH Salary Cap is applicable?

NIH’s Salary Cap is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm and the annual rate is applicable to the proposal submission date and thereafter. For example, with a salary cap of $185,100 a faculty member who earns $250,000 and has 10% effort on an award, may recover $18,510 from the federal sponsor ($185,100 cap x 10% = $18,510). The institution must contribute $6,490 ($250,000 - $185,100 x 10% = $6,490) towards a non-sponsored salary over the cap account.

20. How often are effort certifications required?

Effort Certifications are reported on a quarterly basis:

  • Quarter 1 – July to September
  • Quarter 2 – October to December
  • Quarter 3 – January to March
  • Quarter 4 – April to June

21. Who can certify effort when an employee is unable?

An alternate certifier can be assigned to certify on behalf of a terminated employee or an employee unable to certify due to extraordinary circumstances, but the person must have suitable means of verification. The alternative certifier could be the PI for the project or the PI’s Departmental Chair or Dean.

22. What is cost share and what are the different types of cost share?

Cost Sharing or matching is the portion of the total sponsored research project costs that is not reimbursed by the sponsor. Cost sharing represents a commitment by the University or Third Party (non-federal source) to a sponsored project as per below:

  1. Direct Costs
  2. Effort Percentage
  3. In-kind contributions (donated property, donated supplies, tuition waivers, unrecovered F&A/indirect costs or volunteer services). FAU cannot provide in-kind contributions or services as cost share.

23. What is Program Income?

Program income is incidental income generated as a result of a sponsored program or project. For example, if a sponsor issues an award to host a conference that attendees must remit payment to attend; then the income received for conference registration is considered program income. This incidental income must be accounted for with a separate account (award) and identified as program income that is associated with the sponsor funded award.

24. How often are invoices or drawdown processed by the Research Accounting Office?

If cost reimbursable (invoices based on expenditures charged to the grant/award), then invoices and drawdowns are processed monthly unless specified as quarterly by the sponsor. Fixed invoices are processed by either a deliverable, task or payment schedule identified within the terms and conditions of the award document.

25. Who is responsible for all invoicing, drawdowns and financial reporting for sponsored research projects?

The Research Accounting Office is responsible for all invoicing, drawdowns and financial reporting for sponsored research projects. A Research Accountant is assigned to each research award/grant and their contact information is available directly from the award page in Workday.

26. Who audits sponsored research projects?

Sponsored Research projects are subject to audit by the following entities:

  1. Florida Atlantic University’s Inspector General
  2. State of Florida Auditor General
  3. Department of Health and Human Services
  4. Florida Board of Governors
  5. Sponsor



 Last Modified 2/28/20