Research and Sponsored Programs - 2018

Award Management

Once an award has been set up, the PI is responsible for all expenses involving the grant. RSP post-award liaisons are here to help you manage your budget, purchase goods and services, and pay for your time. Details on the process to follow for different kinds of expenditures are below.

All policies governing grant-related expenditures are available for CSUN faculty, staff, and project personnel to review in the RSP Post-Award Policy Library on Box.

General Principles

In order to  be allowable on a grant, expenditures must generally:

1. Be reasonable - A cost may be considered reasonable if the goods or services acquired or applied, reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken.

2. Be allocable - To the specific sponsored project to which it is being charged. A costs would be considered "allocable" to a project if:

  • it is incurred solely to advance the work under the sponsored agreement, or
  • it benefits both the sponsored project and other work of the institution, in proportions that can be approximated through use of reasonable methods, or
  • it is necessary to the overall operation of the institution and is determined to be assignable in part to sponsored projects.

3. Be given consistent treatment - All costs incurred by the university for the same purpose, in like circumstances, are either direct costs or indirect costs. 

4. Conform to any limitations or exclusions of Uniform Guidance or the sponsored agreement.

In general, expenditure policies and procedures are designed to conform with 2 CFR 200 (aka "Uniform Guidance") as well as all relevant sections of the CSU Policy Library.

Faculty Release Time and Additional Pay

Faculty time is generally compensated by a grant in two ways: release time and additional pay. Release time is the time a faculty member is released from normal teaching responsibilities in order to perform other duties, such as working on a sponsored project. Additional pay is extra salary paid to the faculty member in order to work on something considered outside of the scope of their regular duties, such as externally funded research during the winter, spring, or summer breaks. It is possible to budget for both release time and additional pay for the same faculty member in one project, although some agencies limit the amount of total compensation a faculty member can receive on the project. Additionally, the CSU limits faculty compensation to 125% of the faculty's base salary regardless of the source of the additional funds.

For more information about policies governing faculty pay, please see the post-award policies marked "Personnel."

Hiring and Paying Project Employees

Project staff are hired through The University Corporation (TUC), which has its own separate Human Resources department to support employment through TUC. TUC Human Resources will handle the entire recruitment, hiring, and sign-in process. You can learn more about TUC HR on their website.

Please note that all staff, including student research assistants, must complete the hiring and sign-in process at TUC before beginning work on any sponsored program. This is necessary to ensure the employee can be paid.

Importantly, staff and students hired to work on sponsored projects are not state employees, and must follow the employee policies, procedures, and guidelines for TUC employees. The PI is ultimately responsible for supervising all project staff. Please contact your post-award liaison or TUC-HR to learn more about the hiring process and ongoing staff supervision.

Paying Independent Contractors and Outside Vendors

Independent Contractors

An independent contractor is an individual who is not affiliated with CSUN or The University Corporation (TUC) and is in business as an individual to provide specialized services. An Independent Contractor maintains control over the work processes and has flexibility over when and how the work is performed. Independent contractors often provide services such as lecturing, speaking, evaluation, or other special trades.

TUC may not enter to an independent contracting agreement with the following:

  • Employees, including student and graduate assistants, of CSUN, TUC, or other CSUN auxiliaries
  • Individuals who are listed as debarred or suspended from receiving payment on 
  • Federal government employees
  • Companies (please use purchase order)

Purchase Orders and Vendor Contracts

Material goods and services provided by outside companies can be purchased by a Purchase Order (PO) or contract with the vendor.  For purchases totaling less than $10,000, including all freight, shipping and handling fees, and taxes, a PO is optional but encouraged. Purchases totaling $10,000 or more must be accompanied by a PO even if the vendor also requires a separate contract. Additionally, the PO must include either a set of three or more competing bids/quotes or a Sole Source Justification.

Signature Authorization to Enter Into Contracts

For all contracts that will be paid by sponsored projects, only individuals with signature authority in the RSP Post-Award and TUC Financial Services offices may enter into contracts on behalf of TUC. PIs or project staff are not authorized to enter into any contractual agreement on behalf of The University Corporation. Rather, the PI or other authorized signer must provide written document (email or memo) indicating their approval of the conditions of the contract.

For more guidance, please refer to the "Operations" policies in the RSP Post-Award Policy Library.

Monitoring Expenses

The following options are available to help you stay on top of your expenditures and adjust your budgets as needed to adapt as your project unfolds:

Budget Balance Available (BBA): The BBA is a project "budget status" snapshot that provides information on the budgeted, committed, spent, and available funds of a project on an expenditure category level. The BBA is updated daily and is the most current report available to your project. Daily updated reports are available by contacting your post-award liaison.

Detail Trial Balances (DTB): DTBs are the most detailed project reports, showing each individual accounting entry that has been made in a project. Updated monthly, they are usually generated after the fiscal closure of each month and contain all costs that were allocated to the project through the end of that month. The monthly DTB reports are available to you through the CSUN Portal, but you may also requested DTBs for specific time periods on an on-demand basis. For assistance with your DTB, please contact Mahyar Sadri.

Custom Reports: You may request custom reports at any time by contacting any of the post-award team members at TUC.

Please note, all reports have the following limitations that you should be aware of:

  • Payroll is processed twice a month, and usually posted on the 3rd or 18th of the month; therefore, personnel costs are only up to date as of the last payroll posting date.
  • Indirect cost recovery is posted only once a month, usually on the 15th of the following month; therefore, indirect costs accrued by each project are only up to date as of the last Indirect Cost posting date.

Budget Revisions

Sometimes it becomes clear that one category of your budget has insufficient funds to support the expenses you expect to occur, but you might be able to supplement it with funds from another category. Depending on which budget categories you want to alter and the specific type of funding you have, a budget revision may need to be reviewed and approved by the funding agency before the funds can be reallocated.

To discuss a potential budget revision or start the process, please reach out to your designated post-award liaison.