There are four basic concepts that guide the process of developing sponsored project budgets as defined in 2 CFR 200, Uniform Guidance:


Costs charged to a sponsored research award must comply with any limitations or exclusions indicated in the sponsored agreement or in the Federal Cost Principles within the 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance).


Once a cost has been determined to be allowable, the next question is whether it’s allocable, meaning that it provides direct benefit to the sponsored project. Expenses in a sponsored project budget should not be general expenses that support various activities of the principal investigator (PI) and/or CU Boulder. They should be specific costs that can be reliably estimated that support or advance the work of the specific award and that award only. Items that benefit multiple projects are assigned to budgets in proportion to the benefit that they provide to each project.


If a cost is deemed allowable and allocable, then the next question is whether or not it’s reasonable. The principle of reasonableness is basically how it sounds. The proposed costs must seem reasonable to the general public and able to withstand public scrutiny.


The final consideration is whether the costs are consistently treated by the University. It is essential that all expenses be treated in the same manner under similar circumstances.

In December 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for Federal awards in the Federal Register. As of December 26, 2014, 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance) replaces the administrative, accounting, audit rules and principles currently included in the OMB Circulars, including A-21, A-110 and A-133.

Your Proposal Analyst will analyze the costs within your budget and help ensure that they conform to sponsor and other regulatory requirements. Your Budget Justification is another important document that provides additional details that help demonstrate adherence to the Cost Principles.

For more information, visit the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations and CU Boulder's Cost Principles policy and procedure statements.