University of Iowa

Administrative and Clerical Salaries

Charging Administrative & Clerical Salaries to Grants

Uniform Guidance (see UG 200 CFR) ensures that federal funding is administered in a consistent way, outlining a set of uniform principles for budgeting and charging allowable costs to federally sponsored awards.

The salaries and benefits of administrative and clerical staff, as well as general expenses such as office supplies, postage, local telephone costs, and memberships in professional and scientific organizations, are generally not allowed as direct charges to federally sponsored awards except under special circumstances (see below). As a result, administrative and clerical salaries and benefits associated with routine services such as typing reports, filing, handling mail, making travel arrangements, answering telephones, etc., should not be budgeted or charged as direct costs, even when there is a direct benefit to the project

The government recognizes that, in some instances, the direct charging of administrative and clerical salaries may be appropriate and therefor approved by the funding agency. Examples of such projects include major, complex, multi-investigator projects such as Center Grants, Program Project Grants, and other sponsored projects that entail assembling and managing teams of investigators -- where administrative/secretarial support would be an integral part of the project itself.

Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate only if ALL of the following conditions are met:

  1. The effort of the individual must be integral to the project
    • If the services are integral, the individual would need to spend a significant amount of time- typically 15% or greater- on the activities in a given year
    • In consideration of the type of project, special circumstances might require concentrated effort on administrative tasks for a short period of time that may not equate to 15% effort in a year but are still allowable.  For example, support right before or after a conference that requires significant effort for the period of time.
  2. If the effort of the individual meets the definition as an allowable direct cost under the Uniform Guidance, no additional consideration is required.  This includes:
    • Developing and maintaining protocols (humans, animals, etc.)
    • Managing substances/chemicals
    • Managing and securing project-specific data
    • Coordinating research subjects
  3. For other administrative activities that are not normally allowed such as travel and meeting arrangements, travel reimbursements, procurement, financial tracking/management, payroll or human resources, etc., the justification must indicate that the project will require an unusual type of volume of administrative tasks.  Examples include:
    • Large, complex programs such as CTSA, research centers, etc.
    • Epidemiological studies, clinical trials, etc., that involve extensive data accumulation, analysis and entry, surveying, tabulation, cataloging, search and reporting and data reduction
    • Projects that require making extensive travel and meeting arrangements for a large number of participants, such as conferences and seminars
    • Projects whose principal focus is the preparation and productions of manuals and large reports (other than routine progress and technical reports), books, and monographs
    • Projects in a remote location that is not accessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as off-campus research
    • Individual projects that require a significant amount of project-specific database management, individualized graphics, or manuscript preparation

If you have questions concerning these federal regulations, contact the Division of Sponsored Programs at  dsp@uiowa.edu or 335-2123.