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1 NYU’s Compliance with A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions Nancy Daneau, Office of Sponsored Programs Joanne Goldstein and Michael Miller,

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Presentation on theme: "1 NYU’s Compliance with A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions Nancy Daneau, Office of Sponsored Programs Joanne Goldstein and Michael Miller,"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 NYU’s Compliance with A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions Nancy Daneau, Office of Sponsored Programs Joanne Goldstein and Michael Miller, Sponsored Programs Accounting

2 2 What we’ll cover today….. What do the applicable regulations say? How does A-21 tie pre- and post award together? What do I need to be aware of while developing the proposal and budget to ensure the project runs smoothly from inception to close-out? What steps can I take to mitigate the risk of non- compliance with federal regs, sponsor policy, and NYU’s procedures? Can NYU avoid material findings in an audit?

3 3 OMB Circular A-21 Cost Types  Direct Costs  Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs

4 4 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Direct Costs  Costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project Salary and Wages Fringe Benefits Materials and Supplies Equipment Travel Consulting Costs Subawards to collaborating institutions for programmatic effort Procurement subcontracts for supplies or services Participant Support Costs

5 5 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Facilities & Administrative Costs (F&A)  Known as Indirect Costs  Costs incurred for common or joint objectives; therefore cannot be readily attributed to any particular sponsored project Facilities Component  Depreciation and use (utilities)  Interest on debt associated with buildings  Capital Improvements

6 6 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Administrative Cost Components  General Administration (e.g. central units, university-wide service and support)  President/Chancellor’s office personnel, operating costs  Business and Finance personnel, operating costs  Human Resource personnel, operating costs  Departmental Administration  Dean’s office personnel, operating costs  Departmental personnel including clerical and admin support, operating costs  Sponsored Projects  Pre- and post-award office personnel, operating costs

7 7 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…)  Student Administration & Services  Admissions, Registrar, Advisors, Health offices  Library Expenses  Books and periodical holdings Administrative cost component of F&A rate capped, federal government limits reimbursement to 26% of MTDC

8 8 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) F&A rate negotiated with NYU’s cognizant agency  Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS)  Current rate is 53.5% MTDC for on campus efforts during period 9/1/07-8/31/08; 26% for off-campus research  Future years: Bases  Modified Total Direct Cost base Applies the % rate to proposed total direct costs *less* equipment, tuition remission, fellowships, rental costs, and that amount of each subaward exceeding $25k Most institutions use this method

9 9 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Application of F&A rate Use rate in effect at time of proposal submission Stays the same for “life” of sponsored project  Number of years approved by agency at time of award  Change only during submission of a competitive segment (renewal)

10 10 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) The 4 core cost principles embedded throughout A-21 and the path to successful stewardship of federal funding:  Allowability  Allocability  Reasonableness  Consistent treatment

11 11 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Proposed, incurred, and reported costs must be:  Allowable In accordance with A-21 (section J), sponsor guidelines, and institutional policy Order of precedence per A-21  Sponsor policy  A-21  Institutional policy NYU policy may disallow a cost item even if the sponsor approves in order to maintain “consistency” rule  Allocable Does the project directly benefit? If multiple projects benefit, cost should be allocated in proportion to benefit

12 12 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Proposed, incurred, and reported costs must be:  Reasonable Is the price/cost fair? Would a prudent person pay this amount?  Consistent Like costs must be treated similarly in accordance with institution’s cost accounting practices Book as either a direct cost or indirect cost  Can’t be direct sometimes and indirect others

13 13 OMB Circular A-21 (con’t…) Why is consistency in cost allocations important?  Institutions with sponsored program portfolio in excess of $25M per FY required to disclose cost accounting practices Form DS-2 filed with cognizant federal agency Justifies institution’s position on categorizing and charging costs as either direct or indirect Amendments must be filed any time a change occurs, whether it’s to comply with new standard or a change in practice If found to be out of compliance with own cost accounting practices, costs will be disallowed and interest charges will accrue Can have negative impact on F&A rate (rate lowered)

14 14 Budget Development Allowable Costs (sample major cost categories)  Salaries and Wages for PI(s), technical staff, and other key personnel Must be calculated using individual’s base salary/rate Total dollars, equivalent to 100% effort may not exceed annualized salary For summer months, annualize salary and then multiply by number of months, % effort assigned during summer  Keep in mind NYU and sponsor restrictions on summer support

15 15 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Exception: Salaries and wages for administrative or clerical support Generally UNALLOWABLE (infamous F.6.b of A-21) as direct costs *unless* they meet the test of “major project”  Major project defined in Exhibit C of A-21  Program project grants  Engineering or Environmental Research Centers  Projects involving extensive data collection, entry, and analysis  Projects requiring travel arrangements for large numbers of participants (workshop or conference grants)  Projects that take place in a distant geographic location without access to departmental resources  Projects for the purpose of creating a manual or book Included in departmental administration portion of F&A base

16 16 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Fringe Benefits Charged as a percentage of salary and wages (negotiated with NYU’s cognizant agency) 27% for period 9/1/07-8/31/08 For future years:  Materials and Supplies Necessary to conduct the project and expendable  Lab supplies (beakers, chemicals)  Animals and animal care costs  expenditures for animals allowable only once protocol approved by institutional animal care committee  Parts intended for fabricated equipment items including delivery/transportation charges

17 17 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Exception: Generally, office supplies, postage, and local telephone costs should *not* be included in the direct cost category Normally treated as F&A Unless incurred for major project (F.6.b. of A-21)  Equipment Items with unit cost of $3,000 or more Useful life of more than 1 year  “Special Purpose Equipment”  Equipment items used only for research, medical, or scientific activities (e.g. microscopes, spectrometers)  Allowed only with sponsor approval  “General purpose equipment”  Office equipment  Allowed only with sponsor approval

18 18 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Travel Cost estimates must comply with NYU’s written travel policy (lodging, per diem, mileage, etc.) Airfare should be at coach rate (no first class) and comply with Fly America Act  Unless extenuating circumstances occur  Circuitous routing that prolongs travel for excessive period  Cost prohibitive  Requires travel during unreasonable hours  Medical needs and requirements cannot be met

19 19 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Consulting Costs Consulting rate should be in line with market Faculty may serve as consultants within their institution and receive remuneration above their regular compensation IF AND ONLY IF  Consultation is across departmental lines or involves separate/remote location, AND  Work performed is in addition to regular dept’l load, AND  Documented in the award with sponsor approval

20 20 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Subawards Issued when a substantive portion of the programmatic effort is to be carried out by another organization Total costs (direct and indirect) for subrecipient(s) are direct cost line item in your proposal & project budget Requires approval by sponsor  Subcontracts for supplies or services Issued to vendors who are in business solely to provide supplies or services sought and which perform services on a routine basis in a competitive market

21 21 Budget Development (cont’d….)  Participant Support Stipends or subsistence allowances, travel, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees in connection with meetings, conferences, or training projects If “participants” are employees of an institution, costs may NOT be categorized as participant support One federal agency (NSF) recently provided clarification re: training offered to public school teachers  If participants trained are employees of the local school district, costs are participant support *if* stipend or training allowance method used and allowances made to the teachers directly  school must have sub-accounts in place to differentiate between salary and stipend payments

22 22 Budget Development (cont’d….) Unallowable Costs  Alcoholic beverages  Alumni activities  Bad debts  Commencement or convocation costs  Charitable contributions, donations, remembrances  Development/fundraising costs

23 23 Budget Development (cont’d….) Unallowable Costs (cont’d)  Entertainment costs: tickets to shows or sporting events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities associated with entertainment  Fines and penalties  Goods or services for personal use of employees (including gifts)  Housing and personal living expenses of University officers  Investment management costs  Lobbying

24 24 Budget Development (cont’d….) Unallowable Costs (cont’d)  Cost overruns on other sponsored agreements  Pre-award costs (unless approved by the sponsoring agency or permitted under expanded authorities)  Selling and marketing costs of any products or services of the institution  Student activity costs incurred for intramural activities, student publications, student clubs  Travel: First class tickets (unless extenuating circumstances)

25 25 A-21: The tie that binds pre- and post award The proposal and budget have been approved NYU receives an award notice Now what? If the proposal has been developed with A-21 care, financial management of your award will be a SNAP!

26 26 Project Set-up & Financial Transactions Project set-up:  Important to establish and categorize project correctly within NYU’s financial system  Important to understand fund, expense account and account restrictions to ensure charges are posted properly Costs must be incurred within the period of performance authorized by the funding agency Total expenditures must not exceed authorized award amount Charge sponsored accounts in a timely manner for allowable, allocable, and reasonable costs associated with conduct of the work  Auditors test and look at number of cost transfers processed on sponsored projects to assess “risk” of internal control failure

27 27 Financial Management Rebudgeting  Expanded authorities Gives NYU authorization to rebudget between direct cost categories of a sponsored project without prior approval  If award not subject to above, re-aligning budget must be in accordance with terms and conditions of sponsor Usually allowable up to certain dollar amount or % If exceeds threshold, requires sponsor approval Watch for restrictions on rebudgeting in and out of specific cost categories (e.g. participant support, equipment, etc.)

28 28 Financial Management (cont’d…) Cost Transfers  Defined as an after-the-fact reallocation of costs (labor or non-labor) to a sponsored award  OMB Circular A-21 prohibits the use of cost transfers for the purpose of “convenience,” i.e., a transfer largely for the purpose of using unexpended funds on an award that is ending  NYU must explain and justify the transfer of charges to and from federal and non-federal awards

29 29 Financial Management (cont’d…)  Appropriate as long as the cost being transferred is allocable, allowable, and reasonable to the account being charged  Justifiable reasons: Award notice received or processed late so expenditures posted to an unrestricted or other discretionary account until sponsored award account setup  Timelines and completeness of transfer explanations/justifications are integral to supporting allowability and allocability

30 30 Financial Management (cont’d…)  Most institutions have cost transfer policies Explains process and requirements for moving labor and non- labor expenditures Explains process for moving expenditures within ninety (90) days of original posting and after 90 days has passed  NYU policy: Cost Transfer Interim Guidelines:  Justifications for transferring charges required Varying levels of approvals required  PI or designee < 90 days  Fiscal Officers or designees > 90 days  SPA final approver on all cost transfers

31 31 Financial Management (cont’d…) Disallowed costs  If internal review finds unallowable costs, move them immediately  Charge them to a discretionary, unrestricted account  If significant, be forthcoming and notify the sponsor of the problem and steps taken to resolve it  Don’t wait for sponsor or auditor to find! Full disclosure and asking forgiveness goes a long way

32 32 Financial Reporting Submission of Invoices Frequency and tied to what?  Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually?  Watch cash flow for those with outstanding A/R  Scheduled or tied to submission of progress reports, deliverables?  Are dollar thresholds set for specific tasks/milestones/deliverables? Are all reported costs reimburseable (i.e. do they meet the allowable, allocable, and reasonableness tests?) Expenditure Reports Interim Final  Do financial report requirements match standard cost categories at your institution?  Is the accounting for costs transparent so that there is no question as to how costs are categorized?

33 33 Time and Effort Certification Required for all individuals assigned to federally funded sponsored projects Certification must be done at least twice per year  NYU completes certification three times a year Based on all activities: sponsored and non-sponsored (teaching, administrative, etc.) Goal is to ensure effort spent matches or exceeds salary charges during a particular period Salary and Wage (Personnel) charges on sponsored awards must be reasonable for the work performed

34 34 Time and Effort Certification (cont’d…) Every individual is responsible for certifying his/her effort  A responsible individual with means to verify work performed should confirm reasonableness  % effort is NOT based on 40 hours, but rather on the individual’s total activity

35 35 Time and Effort Certification (cont’d…) Remember:  Per A-21, “in the use of any methods for apportioning salaries, it is recognized that in an academic setting, teaching, research, service and administration are often inextricably intermingled. A precise assessment of factors that contribute to costs in not always feasible, nor is it expected. Reliance, therefore, is placed on estimates in which a degree of tolerance is appropriate”

36 36 Close-out and Audit on Federal Awards Institution has ninety (90) calendar days after expiration/termination to complete financial transactions and close-out account Final financial status reports (FSR) must be submitted by the 90 th day or be considered delinquent Unobligated balances must be returned to the sponsor unless otherwise agreed upon After final project close-out, Federal sponsor generally has 3 years to do final audit of costs and is entitled to reimbursement of any disallowed costs, even after the fact Institution subject to A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations if it expends > $500,000 in federal funding (either direct or passed through via subawards)

37 37 Resources….Links Cost Accounting Standards  OMB Circulars  Business Expenses, Expense Reimbursement policies  Purchasing Policies, including Purchasing Card  html html Asset Management Procedures & Forms 

38 38 Follow up questions…. Contact info.:  Nancy Daneau,  Joanne Goldstein,  Michael Miller, Thanks for joining us!


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