CU Boulder’s federally negotiated rate agreement includes four types of activities. The activity types of Organized Research, Instruction and Other Sponsored Activities are defined in accordance with 2 CFR 200 Appendix III. The activity type of IPA is defined in accordance with the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The following Indirect Cost (F&A) Rate Decision Guide is provided as information to campus. OCG will make the final determination on which rate applies to a project.

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Organized Research

Organized Research means all research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for including:

  • Sponsored research means all research and development activities that are sponsored by Federal and non-Federal agencies and organizations. This term includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques (research training).
  • University research means all research and development activities that are separately budgeted and accounted for by the institution under an internal application of institutional funds. (2 CFR 200 Appendix III Section A.1.b.).

The following are examples of Organized Research:

  • Awards for faculty to support their research activities
  • Externally sponsored Career Awards (i.e, NSF, NIH, DoD) that support a faculty’s research efforts
  • External funding to maintain facilities or equipment and/or fund the operation of a center or facility which will be used for research
  • External support for the writing of books, when the purpose of the writing is to publish research results
  • Awards for the support of the research activities of CU Boulder students or postdoctoral scholars, e.g., research training grants
  • Sponsored Service activities

An Organized Research rate may be appropriate if you can answer yes to any of the following:

  • Is there a systematic investigation or are there activities including testing and evaluation?
  • Will there be a scholarly inquiry, analysis, or critical study, testing, hypothesis, or data collection?
  • Will the findings be used to contribute to generalizable knowledge (i.e. meant to have an impact on others within the discipline) inside or outside the Institution?
  • Will the results or outcomes be published, archived, presented, or viewed in some way as relevant beyond the specific participant population?
  • Is CU Boulder providing a service to an external entity using University facilities or equipment or other aspects of the University research enterprise?

Organized Research also includes Sponsored Services. Sponsored Services are activities performed by university personnel using University facilities and/or equipment or other aspects of the University research enterprise that have excess capacity to perform work for external entities similar to tasks done on sponsored research projects but without the scientific investigation and conclusions. Examples of and details on Sponsored Services can be found here


Instruction means the teaching and training activities of an institution, except for research training. The teaching and training activities include those offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non-credit basis, whether through regular academic departments or separate divisions.

  • Sponsored instruction and training means specific instructional or training activity established by grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. For purposes of the cost principles, this activity may be considered a major function even though an institution’s accounting treatment may include it in the instruction function.
  • Departmental research means research, development and scholarly activities that are not organized research and, consequently, are not separately budgeted and accounted for. (2 CFR 200 Appendix III Section A.1.a.).

 Instruction includes:

  • Any project for which the purpose is to instruct any student at any location; recipients of instruction may be CU Boulder students or staff, teachers or students in elementary or secondary schools, other college or university faculty or staff, or the general public
  • Curriculum development projects at any level, including projects which involve evaluation of curriculum or teaching methods. Note that such evaluation may be considered “research” when the preponderance of activity is data collection, evaluation, and reporting
  • Projects which involve CU Boulder students in community service activities for which they are receiving academic credit
  • General support for the writing of textbooks or reference books, instructional video, or software to be used as instructional materials and not related to a research project

An Instruction rate may be appropriate if you can answer yes to any of the following:

  • Will the activity support curriculum development not related to a research or sponsored services project?
  • Will the activity support teaching/training activities (other than research training)?
  • Is the intended audience students enrolled at the University?

Other Sponsored Activities

Other Sponsored Activities means programs and projects that involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research. (2 CFR 200 Appendix III Section A.1.c.) Other Sponsored Activities do not use University research resources nor are they based on University research activities.

The following are examples of Other Sponsored Activities:

  • Travel grants not related to research
  • Conferences, seminars, workshops, and symposia not related to research and funded by an external sponsor, with a primary audience of non-CU Boulder students, staff, or faculty, and not meeting the definition of instruction
  • Sponsorship of museums, arts, dance, and music programs
  • Projects that involve CU Boulder faculty, staff, or students in community service activities (where the CU Boulder students do not receive academic credit for their involvement or participation)
  • Projects supporting library or museum collections, acquisitions, bibliographies, archiving, or cataloging
  • Activities that do not fall in the category of organized research or instruction and for which a sponsor allows use of a negotiated rate other than organized research

An Other Sponsored Activities rate may be appropriate if you can answer yes to any of the following:

  • Is the intended audience the public for receipt of or participation in a community service with no University research resources to be used?
  • Is the intended activity a conference whose participants are not students enrolled at the University?

Is the intended activity travel to a conference (excludes travel related to research)?

Your Proposal Analyst will ensure that the appropriate indirect cost rate is included on your sponsored project budget.

Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements (IPAs)

Intergovernmental Personnel Agreements  provide for the temporary assignment of personnel between the Federal Government and state and local governments, colleges and universities, Indian tribal governments, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations (Federal Office of Personnel Management). CU Boulder faculty, researchers and staff may serve in the Federal Government on IPAs. CU Boulder employees serving on an IPA remain an employee of the university.