10. Administrative
     Salaries and Other
     Clerical Expenses

"Major Projects" and
Indirect Costs  

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Stanford Policy
* Charging for Administrative
and Technical Expenses




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* Resource Page

* Implementation Guidelines

The September 1, 1994 revision of Circular A-21 established the principle that administrative and clerical expenses are normally indirect costs. The Circular permits them to be charged directly to federal sponsors when:

  1. the expense is for the performance of one or more the of activities/projects defined as "MAJOR" (defined below)
  2. the expense is specifically identified with and directly benefits the project
  3. the expense is specifically budgeted and approved by the sponsor
  4. the expense is supported by an explicit budget justification in the project proposal.

Even if administrative costs are budgeted and allowed by the sponsor, they may not be charged directly to a federal sponsor except in the case of "major projects."

A-21 defines this term to mean "administratively intensive," where the nature of the technical work requires administrative/clerical support significantly above the routine level. A-21 provides several examples.

Examples of
"Major Projects"

NOTE that this "major project" requirement applies to FEDERAL SPONSORS ONLY. For non-federal sponsors, you may charge administrative and clerical expenses which are allowable, allocable and reasonable without demonstrating the existence of a "major project."

The "decision tree" linked to this page illustrates the process of deciding whether or not an administrative expense may be charged directly to a federal sponsor.

"Decision Tree" for
Administrative and
Technical Charges

The proposal, and in particular the budget justification, are critical to the allowability of these types of costs. If you are proposing clerical/administrative costs, the proposal must state that the PI considers the project to be "major" (see sample language) and the justification must be explicit and detailed.

You are encouraged to discuss this subject with your research administrator or administrative support staff when preparing proposals that include such costs.


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