Office of Research, UC Riverside
Sponsored Programs Administration

Non-Salary Administrative Expenses - Special Guidance

Standard Treatment

In accordance with OMB Circular A-21, non-salary administrative expenses are considered Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs and should not be budgeted in proposals or charged to extramural awards (sponsored projects/programs).

Examples of Non-Salary Administrative Expenses

The following list (which is not all inclusive) represents the most common, routine non-salary administrative expenses:

  • Basic telephone line, equipment, installation and local telephone services
  • General purpose equipment
  • Postage and other mailing expenses, as well as express mail and/or courier charges for routine departmental operations including delivery of proposals
  • Memberships and subscriptions
  • General administrative supplies
  • Normal repairs and maintenance services
  • Service of equipment installed as part of state funded capital projects or an integral part of a central building service
  • Utilities

Treatment of Non-Salary Administrative Expenses in Unlike Circumstances

Non-salary administrative expenses may be treated (budgeted and/or charged) as a direct cost if, as a result of the scope of the project/program, unlike circumstances exist that necessitate or require that a project/program incur non-salary administrative expenses at a level significantly greater than what is routinely provided by UCR departments and units. To treat non-salary administrative expenses as a direct cost, the following conditions must be met:

  1. the scope of the sponsored project/program must necessitate or require non-salary administrative expenses that are significantly greater than what is routinely provided by the department or units; and
  2. the non-salary administrative expenses can be specifically identified, with relative ease and a high degree of accuracy with the sponsored project/program; and
  3. the administering unit must maintain documentation that explains and supports items 1 and 2 above.

Examples of Unlike Circumstance

Following are examples of Unlike Circumstance where direct charging of non-salary administrative expenses may be appropriate:

  • Mailing expenses for projects that involve a large survey.
  • Departmental administrative supplies used for the production of manuals as described in the scope of work or required as a deliverable under the terms of an extramural award.
  • Departmental administrative supplies required to conduct, tabulate and store the results of a survey identified in the scope of work of an extramural award.
  • A membership fee required in order to subscribe to a journal, where the subscription is necessary for performing the work under a sponsored agreement.
  • Telephone line charges for projects that are geographically inaccessible (i.e., where the geographical separation between the project work site and departmental administrative support would reasonably necessitate such an expense).

The above examples are neither exhaustive nor are they intended to imply that direct charging of these expenses would always be appropriate.

Questions to Address When Justifying Non-Salary Administrative Expenses

When justifying non-salary administrative expenses in proposal budgets (or before charging such expenses to a sponsored project/program), it is helpful to address the following issues:

  • Are the non-salary administrative needs of this project/program significantly greater than what is routinely provided by the department to other sponsored projects/programs? If so, why? Also, describe why it is necessary to incur the non-salary administrative expenses for the successful performance of the project/program.
  • Can the proposed non-salary administrative expenses be easily and accurately allocated to the project/program? How will this be done? If non-salary administrative expenses benefit multiple projects/programs, it may be difficult to accurately document the relative benefit of such expenses to any specific project/program.