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e-CFR data is current as of March 3, 2021

Title 2Subtitle AChapter IIPart 200Subpart E → Subject Group

Title 2: Grants and Agreements
Subpart E—Cost Principles

Direct and Indirect (F&A) Costs

§200.412   Classification of costs.

There is no universal rule for classifying certain costs as either direct or indirect (F&A) under every accounting system. A cost may be direct with respect to some specific service or function, but indirect with respect to the Federal award or other final cost objective. Therefore, it is essential that each item of cost incurred for the same purpose be treated consistently in like circumstances either as a direct or an indirect (F&A) cost in order to avoid possible double-charging of Federal awards. Guidelines for determining direct and indirect (F&A) costs charged to Federal awards are provided in this subpart.

§200.413   Direct costs.

(a) General. Direct costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular final cost objective, such as a Federal award, or other internally or externally funded activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or indirect (F&A) costs. See also §200.405.

(b) Application to Federal awards. Identification with the Federal award rather than the nature of the goods and services involved is the determining factor in distinguishing direct from indirect (F&A) costs of Federal awards. Typical costs charged directly to a Federal award are the compensation of employees who work on that award, their related fringe benefit costs, the costs of materials and other items of expense incurred for the Federal award. If directly related to a specific award, certain costs that otherwise would be treated as indirect costs may also be considered direct costs. Examples include extraordinary utility consumption, the cost of materials supplied from stock or services rendered by specialized facilities, program evaluation costs, or other institutional service operations.

(c) The salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect (F&A) costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate only if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity;

(2) Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity;

(3) Such costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the Federal awarding agency; and

(4) The costs are not also recovered as indirect costs.

(d) Minor items. Any direct cost of minor amount may be treated as an indirect (F&A) cost for reasons of practicality where such accounting treatment for that item of cost is consistently applied to all Federal and non-Federal cost objectives.

(e) The costs of certain activities are not allowable as charges to Federal awards. However, even though these costs are unallowable for purposes of computing charges to Federal awards, they nonetheless must be treated as direct costs for purposes of determining indirect (F&A) cost rates and be allocated their equitable share of the non-Federal entity's indirect costs if they represent activities which:

(1) Include the salaries of personnel,

(2) Occupy space, and

(3) Benefit from the non-Federal entity's indirect (F&A) costs.

(f) For nonprofit organizations, the costs of activities performed by the non-Federal entity primarily as a service to members, clients, or the general public when significant and necessary to the non-Federal entity's mission must be treated as direct costs whether or not allowable, and be allocated an equitable share of indirect (F&A) costs. Some examples of these types of activities include:

(1) Maintenance of membership rolls, subscriptions, publications, and related functions. See also §200.454.

(2) Providing services and information to members, legislative or administrative bodies, or the public. See also §§200.454 and 200.450.

(3) Promotion, lobbying, and other forms of public relations. See also §§200.421 and 200.450.

(4) Conferences except those held to conduct the general administration of the non-Federal entity. See also §200.432.

(5) Maintenance, protection, and investment of special funds not used in operation of the non-Federal entity. See also §200.442.

(6) Administration of group benefits on behalf of members or clients, including life and hospital insurance, annuity or retirement plans, and financial aid. See also §200.431.

[78 FR 78608, Dec. 26, 2013, as amended at 79 FR 75885, Dec. 19, 2014; 85 FR 49562, Aug. 13, 2020]

§200.414   Indirect (F&A) costs.

(a) Facilities and administration classification. For major Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) and major nonprofit organizations, indirect (F&A) costs must be classified within two broad categories: “Facilities” and “Administration.” “Facilities” is defined as depreciation on buildings, equipment and capital improvement, interest on debt associated with certain buildings, equipment and capital improvements, and operations and maintenance expenses. “Administration” is defined as general administration and general expenses such as the director's office, accounting, personnel and all other types of expenditures not listed specifically under one of the subcategories of “Facilities” (including cross allocations from other pools, where applicable). For nonprofit organizations, library expenses are included in the “Administration” category; for IHEs, they are included in the “Facilities” category. Major IHEs are defined as those required to use the Standard Format for Submission as noted in appendix III to this part, and Rate Determination for Institutions of Higher Education paragraph C. 11. Major nonprofit organizations are those which receive more than $10 million dollars in direct Federal funding.

(b) Diversity of nonprofit organizations. Because of the diverse characteristics and accounting practices of nonprofit organizations, it is not possible to specify the types of cost which may be classified as indirect (F&A) cost in all situations. Identification with a Federal award rather than the nature of the goods and services involved is the determining factor in distinguishing direct from indirect (F&A) costs of Federal awards. However, typical examples of indirect (F&A) cost for many nonprofit organizations may include depreciation on buildings and equipment, the costs of operating and maintaining facilities, and general administration and general expenses, such as the salaries and expenses of executive officers, personnel administration, and accounting.

(c) Federal Agency Acceptance of Negotiated Indirect Cost Rates. (See also §200.306.)

(1) The negotiated rates must be accepted by all Federal awarding agencies. A Federal awarding agency may use a rate different from the negotiated rate for a class of Federal awards or a single Federal award only when required by Federal statute or regulation, or when approved by a Federal awarding agency head or delegate based on documented justification as described in paragraph (c)(3) of this section.

(2) The Federal awarding agency head or delegate must notify OMB of any approved deviations.

(3) The Federal awarding agency must implement, and make publicly available, the policies, procedures and general decision-making criteria that their programs will follow to seek and justify deviations from negotiated rates.

(4) As required under §200.204, the Federal awarding agency must include in the notice of funding opportunity the policies relating to indirect cost rate reimbursement, matching, or cost share as approved under paragraph (e)(1) of this section. As appropriate, the Federal agency should incorporate discussion of these policies into Federal awarding agency outreach activities with non-Federal entities prior to the posting of a notice of funding opportunity.

(d) Pass-through entities are subject to the requirements in §200.332(a)(4).

(e) Requirements for development and submission of indirect (F&A) cost rate proposals and cost allocation plans are contained in Appendices III-VII and Appendix IX as follows:

(1) Appendix III to Part 200—Indirect (F&A) Costs Identification and Assignment, and Rate Determination for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs);

(2) Appendix IV to Part 200—Indirect (F&A) Costs Identification and Assignment, and Rate Determination for Nonprofit Organizations;

(3) Appendix V to Part 200—State/Local Governmentwide Central Service Cost Allocation Plans;

(4) Appendix VI to Part 200—Public Assistance Cost Allocation Plans;

(5) Appendix VII to Part 200—States and Local Government and Indian Tribe Indirect Cost Proposals; and

(6) Appendix IX to Part 200—Hospital Cost Principles.

(f) In addition to the procedures outlined in the appendices in paragraph (e) of this section, any non-Federal entity that does not have a current negotiated (including provisional) rate, except for those non-Federal entities described in appendix VII to this part, paragraph D.1.b, may elect to charge a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC) which may be used indefinitely. No documentation is required to justify the 10% de minimis indirect cost rate. As described in §200.403, costs must be consistently charged as either indirect or direct costs, but may not be double charged or inconsistently charged as both. If chosen, this methodology once elected must be used consistently for all Federal awards until such time as a non-Federal entity chooses to negotiate for a rate, which the non-Federal entity may apply to do at any time.

(g) Any non-Federal entity that has a current federally-negotiated indirect cost rate may apply for a one-time extension of the rates in that agreement for a period of up to four years. This extension will be subject to the review and approval of the cognizant agency for indirect costs. If an extension is granted the non-Federal entity may not request a rate review until the extension period ends. At the end of the 4-year extension, the non-Federal entity must re-apply to negotiate a rate. Subsequent one-time extensions (up to four years) are permitted if a renegotiation is completed between each extension request.

(h) The federally negotiated indirect rate, distribution base, and rate type for a non-Federal entity (except for the Indian tribes or tribal organizations, as defined in the Indian Self Determination, Education and Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. 450b(1)) must be available publicly on an OMB-designated Federal website.

[78 FR 78608, Dec. 26, 2013, as amended at 79 FR 75886, Dec. 19, 2014; 85 FR 49563, Aug. 13, 2020]

§200.415   Required certifications.

Required certifications include:

(a) To assure that expenditures are proper and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Federal award and approved project budgets, the annual and final fiscal reports or vouchers requesting payment under the agreements must include a certification, signed by an official who is authorized to legally bind the non-Federal entity, which reads as follows: “By signing this report, I certify to the best of my knowledge and belief that the report is true, complete, and accurate, and the expenditures, disbursements and cash receipts are for the purposes and objectives set forth in the terms and conditions of the Federal award. I am aware that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent information, or the omission of any material fact, may subject me to criminal, civil or administrative penalties for fraud, false statements, false claims or otherwise. (U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1001 and Title 31, Sections 3729-3730 and 3801-3812).”

(b) Certification of cost allocation plan or indirect (F&A) cost rate proposal. Each cost allocation plan or indirect (F&A) cost rate proposal must comply with the following:

(1) A proposal to establish a cost allocation plan or an indirect (F&A) cost rate, whether submitted to a Federal cognizant agency for indirect costs or maintained on file by the non-Federal entity, must be certified by the non-Federal entity using the Certificate of Cost Allocation Plan or Certificate of Indirect Costs as set forth in appendices III through VII, and IX of this part. The certificate must be signed on behalf of the non-Federal entity by an individual at a level no lower than vice president or chief financial officer of the non-Federal entity that submits the proposal.

(2) Unless the non-Federal entity has elected the option under §200.414(f), the Federal Government may either disallow all indirect (F&A) costs or unilaterally establish such a plan or rate when the non-Federal entity fails to submit a certified proposal for establishing such a plan or rate in accordance with the requirements. Such a plan or rate may be based upon audited historical data or such other data that have been furnished to the cognizant agency for indirect costs and for which it can be demonstrated that all unallowable costs have been excluded. When a cost allocation plan or indirect cost rate is unilaterally established by the Federal Government because the non-Federal entity failed to submit a certified proposal, the plan or rate established will be set to ensure that potentially unallowable costs will not be reimbursed.

(c) Certifications by nonprofit organizations as appropriate that they did not meet the definition of a major nonprofit organization as defined in §200.414(a).

(d) See also §200.450 for another required certification.

[78 FR 78608, Dec. 26, 2013, as amended at 79 FR 75886, Dec. 19, 2014; 85 FR 49563, Aug. 13, 2020]

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