Administrators and the Responsible Conduct of Research
Tutorial: Cost Sharing


Many projects require the recipients of sponsored funding to share in the cost of the projects they fund. There are two central issues involved in cost-sharing: (a) ensuring that shared costs meet the same tests as those charged to the sponsored project and (b) that shared costs are effectively tracked in order to permit accurate reporting and meeting the sponsor's requirements for record retention. Administrators should familiarize themselves with the definitions of the different types of cost-sharing and identifies the tracking requirements for each, as well as the specific procedures designed to ensure that the institution remains in compliance with the terms of sponsored awards.

While the institution is ultimately responsible to the sponsor, the central administration depends upon the PI and department administrative staff to track shared costs and ensure that the sponsor's requirements are met throughout the project as costs are incurred. Compliance is extremely difficult, if not impossible, if the tracking of cost-sharing is delayed until the end of the project.

It must be stressed that the costs that are shared must meet the same tests as those charged to the sponsored project. If a cost is unallowable under sponsor policies, it is unallowable for cost-sharing. Similarly, if a cost does not pertain to a given project, it cannot be considered to be allocable for cost-sharing on that project. Finally, since we should never be paying unreasonable costs with either sponsored or institution funds, all shared costs must be reasonable for the products or services purchased.

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