Research Topic

Personal Services Charged to Sponsored Projects


Compensation for personal services covers all amounts paid or accrued by the University for the services of employees which are provided under sponsored projects. Personal services costs are allowable to the extent that the total compensation to the individual employee conforms to the established policies of the University, is consistently applied, and conforms to the sponsor's cost principles. The direct charges for work performed are supported by after-the-fact reviews and confirmations. It is recognized that teaching, research, and public service are intricately intermingled, and specific activities cannot be measured with a high degree of precision. Reliance, therefore, is placed on reasonably accurate approximation.

Direct Charges to Sponsored Projects

Personal services costs for faculty, professional (academic and civil service exempt) staff, graduate assistants and other salaried staff are distributed to sponsored projects on the basis of payroll appointments when the percentage of effort devoted to the project is reasonably predictable and stable over an academic term (e.g., a semester or summer). Appointments are made before the services are performed. Short term fluctuations between workload categories need not be considered as long as the distribution of salaries is reasonable over an academic term.

When there is a significant change in an employee's workload, the appointment is updated. A significant change occurs when:

  • Work begins or ends on a sponsored project;
  • A teaching load is materially modified;
  • Additional unanticipated assignments are received or taken away;
  • An individual begins or ends a sabbatical leave or prolonged sick leave;
  • An individual's percent of appointment changes; and
  • There are other changes of comparable significance.

Contact your university HR office to determine how to submit the change.  Appointments are ultimately updated in the Banner HR module.

If the change in appointment requires a retroactive adjustment, it is corrected by initiating a Labor Redistribution using Banner and documented in accordance with Section 16: Grants and Research Contracts – Sponsored Projects Cost Transfers – Process Cost Transfers for Sponsored Projects.

Other staff – Personal services costs of staff subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (except those with hourly appointments) are distributed to sponsored projects on the basis of the bi-weekly time reports. Appointments are made on the basis of the C-FOP(s) that will benefit directly from the employee's work, but short-term variations are to be reflected in the bi-weekly time report. Whenever possible, the job record should reflect expected workload by C-FOP, so that reasonable salary encumbrances for each C-FOP can appear on monthly accounting statements.

Hourly employees – Wages for hourly employees are distributed on the basis of the bi-weekly time report.

For eligible employees:

Vacation and sick leave – Vacation and sick leave are charged to the C-FOP(s) to which an employee's salary is charged at the time the vacation or sick leave is used. Payouts for termination vacation and sick leave are not allowable on sponsored projects (see Section 16: Grants and Research Contracts – Cost Principles – Treatment of Select Items of Cost for additional information.)

Overtime – Overtime charges are unallowable for exempt employees. Overtime for nonexempt employees may be charged only under the following circumstances:

  • In situations such as during the conduct of tests, laboratory procedures, etc., which are continuous in nature and cannot be reasonably interrupted but must be completed; and
  • In situations which result in lower overall costs to the sponsor.

Overtime must be pro-rated to each C-FOP from which an employee is paid unless the overtime is clearly and demonstrably necessitated by demands placed on that employee on behalf of a specific project.

Consulting by University employees – In accordance with 200.430 Compensation - personal services (h) Institutions of Higher Education, charges for work performed on sponsored agreements are allowable at the base salary rate.  Typically charges to sponsored agreements, irrespective of the basis of computation, cannot exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for that period.

However, in unusual cases where consultation is across departmental lines or involves a separate or remote operation, and the work performed by the consultant is in addition to the regular departmental load, any charges for such work representing extra compensation above the base salary are allowable provided that such consulting arrangements are specifically approved by the University in conformance with Section 17.1 Consultants and Other Contractors for Services, and provided for in the agreement or approved by the sponsoring agency, either in writing or under the terms of the sponsored agreement.

Direct Charging of Administrative/Clerical Support

Under federal cost principles 200.413 Direct costs (c), the salaries and wages of certain administrative and clerical employees cannot normally be charged to federal projects. These include accountants, business managers, clerks, and shop/store keepers.  A Form A may be submitted to request an exception from SPA allowing administrative/clerical support to be treated as a direct cost on a particular project.

Related Research Topics

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