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Office of Research & Sponsored Programs

the grant lifecycle, mount evans observatory

Setting Up An Award

Grants Accounting

A sponsored project or program expenditure must follow certain guidelines in accordance with the award terms. Guidelines and procedures exist for certain types of direct cost expenditures. See below for more information regarding each topic.

Allowable/Unallowable Costs

All grant/contract expenditures must be based on the cost principles outlined in the Office of Management Budget Uniform Grant Guidance. Allowable costs can be charged to the grant fund, however, unallowable costs must be charged to the department. Following is a list of unallowable costs:

  • Alcohol
  • Advertising and public relations costs
  • Bad debt
  • Donations and contributions
  • Entertainment costs
  • Fines and penalties
  • Goods and services for personal use
  • Housing and personal living expenses
  • Pre-award costs unless authorized by the sponsor
Cost Sharing

When a sponsor requires cost sharing be reported on a grant, ORSP will activate a cost share activity code once the grant fund is set-up. The cost share activity code is used with a 10000 fund number and departmental operating organization.

The cost share activity code will be needed on all transactions for salaries, supplies, travel and equipment. It is not necessary to use the cost share activity code on tuition, waived indirect costs, or third party contributions.

Direct Pay

The Direct Pay Request is used by all departments to process payment for certain current expenditures that are not required to be processed on a standard purchase order. The types of expenditures to be processed on a standard direct pay request are:

  • Travel expenditures (registration fees, transportation, lodging, meals, etc.)
  • Conference expenditures
  • Travel advances and repayments
  • Membership Dues

Adequate documentation such as original invoices, original receipts, and registration forms should be attached to the direct pay cover sheet and submitted to ORSP. The ORSP Project Accountant will review all direct pay requests to ensure the expense is allowable and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the grant/contract. If approved, requests are forwarded to Accounts Payable for payment.

Effort Certification

The Office of Management and Budget requires that each grant recipient document time expended towards a sponsored program. Recognizing the unique nature of universities and the absence of timecards, OMB requires documentation and certification of percent of effort, totaling 100%, in support of one’s total commitment to the university. In order to meet this requirement for documentation and certification, each individual paid on a monthly basis and who has some commitment towards a sponsored program, shall certify their effort based on the distribution of total compensation paid to the individual during that month. DU uses Banner electronic effort certification. Click here for instructions. 

Equipment

Commitments to match funds from external sponsors for the purpose of purchasing equipment may be made by the Department Chair, the Dean, the Vice Provost for Research, or a university employee who has fiscal responsibility for university non-restricted funds. Such commitments are considered cost sharing. Authorization from these individuals is required prior to proposing any commitments, and these individuals will need to consider such commitments in their budget planning processes.

Procedures

  • When a proposal is prepared, the PI shall work with ORSP to identify cost-shared expenses.
  • If a match for equipment is required, the PI shall obtain commitments from the Department Chair, Dean and/or Vice Provost for Research. Commitments shall be indicated on the ORSP Proposal Review & Approval (PRA) Form by noting the amount, fund/org, expected fiscal year of expense and signature.
  • Upon award of grant, ORSP shall communicate to the PI and Department Administrator the amount that is reserved for match and the fiscal year. The PI/Department Administrator shall confirm expected purchase(s) by indicating the DU purchase order number(s) and returning to ORSP.
  • The equipment shall be purchased from departmental funds.
  • The department shall submit invoice(s) and copy of financial transactions that have been paid to ORSP for reimbursement to their department fund/org.
  • ORSP makes expense transfers to the appropriate FOAP.
Financial Reporting

If your project requires financial reporting, contact Zack Scholnick, the Project Accountant to complete any necessary financial reports to the sponsor, including interim and final financial reports.

Grant Financial Reports

The grants Inception-to-Date report with transaction drill down capability can now be accessed through PioneerWeb.  It is tied to grant security access and is available to all research faculty and staff.  Banner Finance access is required to run this report.  Please contact your Department Administrator to get registered with the appropriate access.  If you would like to have training or questions on using these reports, please contact your Department Administrator or your Project Administrator in ORSP.

If you have questions on running reports or need assistance, please contact your Department Administrator or Zack Scholnick in ORSP. 

Expenditure Documentation and Approvals

In order for an expenditure to be charged to a grant fund, the expenditure transaction must include adequate documentation to support the nature of the transaction.  The transaction must be certified by the Principal Investigator (PI) or grant designee that the expenditure is appropriate and allowable to the award.  By certifying the transaction the PI or designee is certifying that the expenditure is:

  • Reasonable, allocable and necessary to fulfill the requirements of the project
  • Allowable under the terms and condition of the award
  • Allowable under Uniform Guidance, unless specifically allowed by the award

In addition to the certification, ORSP must review and approve all award expenditures before payment to validate that the expenditure is:

  • Allowable under Uniform Guidance, unless specifically allowed by the award
  • Within the award period of performance
  • Funds are available on the award for the expenditure

Please review the ORSP Expenditure Documentation and Approvals Policy.

Invoicing

ORSP is responsible for all invoicing and receiving payments on grants and contracts. The Project Accountant determines the type of reimbursement rate and then invoices accordingly. 

  • Cost reimbursable grants/contracts are usually invoiced monthly based on actual expenditures.
  • Fixed price contracts are invoiced on a predetermined schedule and are not based on actual expenditures.

ORSP takes the following steps once invoices are generated: 

  • The billing period is checked to be sure that it is within the period of the grant/contract.
  • Fringe, indirect costs, fees, etc., are checked to see if they are calculated properly.
  • The billed-to-date total is checked to the total budget to ensure that the grant/contract is not overrun.

Once invoices are generated, they are signed for approval and sent to the sponsor.

Journal Entries

A journal entry can be used to distribute expenses to a project such as telephone and photocopying charges that have been recorded in an administrative account. Journal entries can also be used to correct clerical and bookkeeping errors. Any transfers involving salary and fringe benefits on research accounts must be handled by ORSP. 

When processing a journal entry, the following issues must be addressed: 

  1. Justification: A detailed explanation must be provided which explains the need to transfer an expense which has previously been approved on another account.
  2. Documentation: There must be an audit trail traceable to the original charge.
  3. Timeliness: Journal entries must be processed within 90 days of the date of the original charge. Any transfer request submitted after 90 days will be disallowed unless there is a justification for the delay. Journal entries submitted more than 60 days after the end of a project are disallowed unless there is justification for the change.

All journal entries are reviewed by the Project Accountant for allowability and then forwarded to general accounting. Please contact Zack Scholnick with any questions regarding transferring expenses.

Payroll

Please refer to the Payroll website for information regarding timesheets, salary adjustments, payroll redistributions, and the payroll calendar.

Program Income

Program Income is disposed of in accordance with OMB Uniform Guidance, under “Program Income" A-102 section 25.

The Project Director/Principal Investigator is responsible for reporting income to the Project Administrator in ORSP. The Project Administrator interprets the sponsor’s rules and regulations regarding the use of program income, determines whether or not the income is indeed considered "program income," and initiates any accounts that are needed to segregate program income. In addition, should a different arrangement than that provided in the grant or other agreement be desired, the Project Administrator will coordinate the negotiation with the sponsoring agency. 

Review program income procedures here.

Closing Encumbrances

It is each department’s responsibility to close their encumbrances since department staff is familiar with the purpose and circumstances of the encumbrance. However, ORSP should handle purchase order activity for any subcontract or consulting agreement. Instructions for closing encumbrances can be found here.

Project Closeout

All grants have a defined begin and end date. Once the grant has reached the end date, ORSP begins the grant closeout process.

  1. Project Administrators email a Project Expiration Notice to the PI 60-90 days before a project is scheduled to end. PI's must return this form with the appropriate responses as soon as possible.
  2. If the PI states the grant is ending as scheduled, the Project Administrator will send a Closeout Checklist that the PI will need to fill out and send back as soon as possible.
  3. Once the Project Administrator receives the Closeout Checklist, the Project Administrator will route the grant through compliance and the Project Accountant.
  4. The Project Accountant will return unused funds to the sponsor or move to the department flowback fund based on the terms of the grant/contract.
  5. All records at the department level and ORSP must be retained for four years following the final closeout of the award.
  6. The University of Denver is required by the Office of Management and Budget to comply with all audits and audit findings. ORSP coordinates all audits and strives to handle all audit questions within their office, however, occasionally the auditor may contact the department for clarification.
Research Travel

Travel Advances

Travel advances are no longer allowed on grants; any approved advances have to go on department funds. Please refer to Purchasing Services website for instructions.

Per Diem Rates

Foreign Rates

Domestic Rates

Travel Expense Reports

Please complete the Travel Expense Report Form upon completion of travel and submit to the Project Accountant.