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Miscellaneous Expense Guideline

February 2015

Power Point Presentation

Webcast Recording
(August 5, 2014)

General Comments

This Guideline is designed to address the allowability/allocability (including reasonableness and necessity for the conduct of the research project) for items of costs incurred for business purposes including conferences, meetings, etc. (“Events”) as well as other miscellaneous costs that are not specifically defined in OMB Circulars.  Costs incurred in support of a program (direct) award are subject to the award’s specific terms and conditions. 

Food and non-alcoholic beverage costs will be allocable to the award per the specific award terms and conditions, and, if applicable, the statement of work, awarded budget, and budget justification. Meals may be allowable/allocable at Events provided the meal was necessary and an integral part of the Event, and not a matter of personal convenience.  All Events, regardless of fund source excluding discretionary, residual and donation funds, require (1) an agenda, (2) a justification explaining the need for food and (3) the number (or estimated number) of participants (including the participant affiliation) to document any charges for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

No direct or indirect funds may be spent on meals or breaks for intramural meetings, i.e., meetings including UCAR employees only per section 200.432 of the OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements located at:

National Science Foundation (NSF) direct funding, interagency funding through NSF, NSF passthru funding, and indirect funds may be used to fund beverages only during breaks at non-intramural activities.

Items for personal use and consumption are not allowable/allocable to a sponsored award. UCAR employees may not purchase supplies or services through UCAR for their personal use, and they may not use other UCAR staff to purchase supplies or services for their personal use.  

Items or charging practices benefiting an employee, whether directly or giving the appearance of such are unallowable in any circumstance. 

If your Event includes a registration fee component, please contact the Director, Budget and Finance for additional discussion regarding the allowability/allocability of costs against registration fees received.

For specific items of cost, please refer to the attached table (Appendix A).

Responsibilities and Exceptions

•The UCAR President is responsible for the allocation of discretionary funds and determines discretionary fund allowances for all purposes, including the Scientific and Technical Opportunity/Risk Mitigation (STORM) funds.  For information on STORM fund procedures, see the UCAR Treasury Operations Web site

•The lab, division, and program directors are responsible for determining that expenses are properly charged to direct, indirect, residual or discretionary funds.  Directors and managers should apply a reasonableness test and request specific authorization from the VP for Finance and Administration when doubt exists as to the appropriate use of funds.

•The Vice President for Finance and Administration is responsible for the interpretation and any exceptions to this procedure.


Please contact Anita Monk-Ryan,, x8854.


Appendix A

Description of Cost

Program (Direct)

Indirect Funds** Discretionary


Alcoholic beverages    


Appliances, small (for Common Areas)    X  X  X  
Bottled Water (individual bottles of water) See ^Note  X X  X  X  
Break Refreshments (morning and/or afternoon)  X  X  X  X  
Breath Mints (personal use)          X
Candy (for Common Areas)      X  X  
Candy (for exhibit booth, e.g., AMS, AGU meetings)      X   X  
Cards (no business purpose)       X  X  
Cleaning supplies (for Common Areas)     X   X  X  
Coffee and supplies (personal use)           X
Conference giveaways (with sponsor approval)   X        
Conference giveaways (without sponsor approval)       X   X  
Continental breakfast (for business purposes)   X  X   X   X  
Décor (for Common Areas)     X   X  X  
Décor (for staff offices)           X
Drinking Water Service   X X X  
Employee Parties (no business purpose)       X   X  
Entertainment activities (for business purpose)       X   X  
Entertainment activities (no business purpose)           X
Fines, interest and penalties           X
Fresh flowers/Live plants       X  X  
Gift cards (for employees)          X
Gift cards (for non-employees as honoraria)   X  X   X  X  
Gifts (Note: If >$35, there are personal tax implications, notify payroll)      X  X  
Hand sanitizer (for employee's office)           X
Hand sanitizer (for Common Areas)     X   X   X  
Kitchen supplies (for business purpose) 
  X   X   X    
Kitchen supplies (no business purpose)       X    
Meals- Non-intramural  ^Note   X  X   X   X  
Meals - Intramural  ^Note       X  X  
Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) / Emergency Meals ^Note     X X  
Nonalcoholic Beverages (for business purposes)   X  X  X  X  
Nonalcoholic Beverages (no business purpose)      X  X  
Over-The-Counter Medication (personal use)         X
Receptions (no business purpose)     X X  
Tissues (for Common Areas)     X   X   X  

* When charging costs to program (direct) funds, costs are subject to the terms and conditions of a sponsored award. Costs associated with intramural meetings are not allowable/allocable.

** If costs are not allowable/allocable to be charged to program (direct) funds, then they are also not allowable/allocable to be charged to indirect funds.  Costs associated with intramual meetings are not allowable/allocable.

Definitions (words in green in the Guideline and Appendix A have associated definitions)

Alcoholic beverages (and associated costs) – Includes beverages with alcohol content, bartender, and bar setup fees incurred in support of alcoholic beverages being served at an Event. 

Allocable costs – A cost is allocable to a particular sponsored award, such as a grant, contract, project, service, or other cost objective, in accordance with the relative benefits received. A cost is allocable to a sponsored award if it is treated consistently with other costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances and if it:

(1) Is incurred specifically for the sponsored award.

(2) Benefits both the sponsored award and other work and can be distributed in reasonable proportion to the benefits received, or

(3) Is necessary to the overall operation of the organization, although a direct relationship to any particular cost objective cannot be shown.

Any cost allocable to a particular sponsored award or other cost objective may not be shifted to other sponsored awards to overcome funding deficiencies, or to avoid restrictions imposed by law or by the terms of the award.

Allowable costs –Any cost specifically identified in a circular, regulation, or specific award as being acceptable and deemed reasonable for the performance of the award; allowable costs can be charged to a direct and indirect fund source.

Appliances (small) – Includes coffee pots, microwaves, toasters, etc.

Break Refreshments^ – For NSF, including IA and passthru funds, and Indirect funds, beverages only, such as soda, coffee, tea and water. For other Federal sponsors, items such as cookies, brownies, chips, snack mix, and beverages.

Common Areas - Examples of common areas include reception areas, conference rooms, kitchens, restrooms and hallways.

Conference giveaways – Includes items provided to conference participants such as pens, flash drives, tote bag, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc.

Continental breakfast^ – Items such as fruit, bagels, yogurt, croissants, coffee, and tea. 

Décor – Include items such as furniture, lamps, pictures, plants, etc. specific to Common Areas.

Discretionary Funds – Funds allocated annually to labs/divs/progs from the UCAR General Fund to cover unallowable costs.

Employee Parties – Non-UCAR sponsored parties including supplies for employee birthday parties, employee retirement parties, employee baby showers,  etc.

Entertainment Activities - Includes amusement, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities) that are solely for the purpose of entertainment for employees or visitors and serve no business purpose.

Fines, Interest and Penalties – Includes traffic and parking tickets, personal credit card interest, and late payment penalties.

Gift Cards – Includes gift certificates, gift cards, or gift credit cards.  Per IRS Regulation 1.132-6(c), cash, gift certificates, charge or credit cards are considered an employee fringe benefit and therefore taxable as income to the employee.  See Employee Recognition Awards Procedures [] for more information regarding Local Appreciation Awards.

Honoraria - An honorarium is an amount of money paid to an individual (not a UCAR or Federal Employee) for services performed. This is a one-time payment for services, including, but not limited to, visitor lecturers, instructors, editing and other contributions to publications, speakers, translators, foreigners assisting with foreign meeting plans, etc. (See Honorarium Payment Guideline at

Indirect Funds – Includes indirect cost pools:  Benefits, Facilities, Communications, UCAR G&A, NCAR G&A and UCP G&A.   Computing Service Centers (CSC) and Machine Shop costs will be treated as indirect funds for the purposes of this guideline.

Intramural Events – Events including only UCAR employees and no non-UCAR participants.

Kitchen Supplies – Paper products (paper towels, plates, cups, etc), and disposable utensils.

Meals^ – Lunch, dinner, and full breakfast (including a reasonable tip).

Non-alcoholic beverages – Includes water, tea, soda, and juices. 

Non-employees – Not UCAR employees (outside participants, including NSF and other federal employees). 

Non-intramural - Events including non-UCAR participants and UCAR employees.

Personal Use Items – Includes breath mints, gum, over-the-counter medications, tissues, coffee for staff, etc.

Program (Direct) Funds – See Sponsored Awards.

Receptions – Food and beverages served for a social activity with no business presentation.

Residual Funds - The positive funds remaining from a fixed price contract or restricted donation upon completion of the project. (see Residual Funds Guideline at

Sponsored Award - Any award in the form of a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, subcontract, purchase order, memorandum of understanding (MOU) or other form of agreement that is received to support a proposed statement of work.  Direct awards are between UCAR and another party such as government agencies, both federal and local, universities, other educational institutions, private corporations, or foreign entities.

UCAR Employee – Receives a UCAR payroll check for work performed.

Unallowable Cost - Any cost specifically identified in a circular, regulation, or specific award as not being allowable or any cost deemed to be unreasonable for the performance of the award; unallowable costs cannot be charged to a direct and indirect fund source.

^Note - Specifically, no meat (at breakfast) or bottled water can be provided at NSF-funded proposal review and management review panel activities.

To view a presentation regarding this guideline, please click here.

Last updated on July 13, 2015 - 12:39pm.
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