Office of Research and Project Administration
SPONSORED PROGRAMS COMPLIANCE
Expenses for the acquisition of materials and supplies late in the project period (within 90 days of the project "end date") will routinely be scrutinized to assure that the expense is allowable and allocable. While such expenses may be completely appropriate, they may be reviewed to assure that unspent project funds are not being "used up" with acquisitions that do not benefit that project.
One key to
the allowability of these expenses is proper documentation. This documentation
is in the form of a written justification to be attached to the purchasing
requisition or placed in the departmental award file.
A UR internal auditor conducting a postaward review of project expenses noticed that an expensive camera was purchased at the very end of a grant project period. The camera had unique capabilities related to the research being conducted, but appeared to be acquired too late to be of any benefit to the project that paid for it.
The PI explained that the technical monitor suggested that UR use the remaining funds on the grant to acquire this important piece of research equipment. The sponsor wanted to see its funds used to advance work in this area, and the camera was a good way to do that. What the PI did NOT do in this example was to include a written justification in the award file as to why the purchase was made. In this particular case, it may have also been prudent to get the written authorization of the sponsor's Grants Officer for the acquisition. Usually, the sponsor will not provide approval for "late" purchases and will leave the decision with respect to allocability to the grantee. In this case, a confirmation from the Grants Officer would have been appropriate.