Admin Salaries Approval

Administrative and Clerical Salaries (Admin Salaries)

Technical versus Administrative Activities Identification Chart

Technical/Programmatic Activities (direct costs, no prior approval needed)

Administrative or Clerical Activities (normally indirect costs, unless prior approval obtained)

Activities contributing and directly related to work under an agreement, such as:

  • delivering special lectures about specific aspects of the ongoing activity
  • writing reports and articles
  • developing and maintaining protocols (human, animals, etc.)
  • managing substances/chemicals
  • managing and securing project-specific data
  • coordinating research subjects
  • participating in appropriate seminars
  • consulting with colleagues and graduate students
  • attending meetings and conferences

If the three Uniform Guidance criteria are met, activities that support the project that may be allowable as direct charges might include:

  • travel and meeting arrangements
  • travel reimbursements
  • purchasing activities
  • financial tracking and management
  • data processing
  • payroll
  • human resources



Source: OSP Website

Administrative and Clerical Salaries (“admin salaries”) on Federal Awards are expenses for non-technical supporting services that generally benefit departmental, institute, or center activities or objectives, including functions such as clerical support, financial management, procurement of materials and services, budget and planning, and personnel management.

Generally, administrative and clerical salaries should be treated as facilities and administrative costs on federally sponsored projects; however, when certain criteria are met, they may be allowed as a direct cost.

The Uniform Guidance eliminates the major project or activity exceptions from A-21 for the direct charging of administrative and clerical salaries and has replaced it with the following criteria, all of which must be met:

  • Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity
  • Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity
  • Such costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the federal awarding agency

If all these requirements are met, then administrative/clerical expenses may be included in the proposal budget justification that ties the administrative effort to the projects aims. It must also confirm that the costs are not recovered as indirect costs.


Agency Specific Guidelines


Proposal Stage Requirements

Administrative salaries approval must be flagged in the GMAS request at the proposal stage. OSP will review for the following:
  • Reviewing GMAS to determine if admin salaries were included in the budget at the proposal stage
  • Reviewing requests and proposals for direct charging of admin salaries to ensure they meet the required criteria
  • Ensuring sponsor approval is received prior to initiating award or approving newly added admin salaries (e.g., award includes budget with administrative salaries or other written approval is received)

Award Stage

At the award stage, OSP will ensure sponsor approval is received prior to initiating an action memo or approving newly added admin salaries.

The OSP Awards Management Team will review any budgets submitted with the proposal to determine whether the administrative salaries were approved as part of the submitted budget. If the salaries were not included at the time of the proposal or are added during the life of the award, sponsor written approval will be required. In order to obtain approval, the Department Administrator must upload a revised budget with justification into GMAS.

Once the salaries have been confirmed and approval is documented, the OSP Awards Management Team portfolio owner adds a comment to the GMAS Administrative Salary approval outlining the budget justification for the salaries. The Awards Management Portfolio Owner then marks the approval as “Done.”

It is the responsibility of the PI and Department Administrator to notify OSP if administrative salaries are added or removed from the project during the life of a federally funded award. These restrictions apply only to Federal prime sponsors.



See also: Compliance