410-33: Communications Allowance

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 400: Expenditures
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 02/4/2014


The Communication Allowance option is provided to faculty and classified staff working at least 0.5 FTE who are required to conduct legitimate OSU business using their own personal cellular telephone or other communication device [see FIS 410-30 Communications: Internet Services and Other Mobile Devices]. This allowance is not an entitlement related to the employee’s position, does not increase the employee’s base salary, is a non-taxable benefit to the employee, and does not require substantiation of each individual call or internet usage. Graduate assistant employees, student employees, temporary employees, and emeritus/courtesy faculty are not eligible for this allowance.

The Communication Allowance is paid through Accounts Payable through your Business Center as a  check or direct deposit.  The required OSU business need for the employee’s individual wireless access (cellular phones or internet connections away from OSU premises) must be clearly stated in the employee’s position description.

The Communication Allowance is paid monthly from the time of authorization until December 31st of the current calendar year unless a change in employment status occurs or an early termination request is provided by the department. The allowance is effective upon receipt of a completed, approved Communication Allowance Agreement Form in your Business Center (http://oregonstate.edu/fa/businessaffairs/sites/default/files/faa/CommAl...).  There is no retro-active pay for this allowance. If the agreement is received by the 10th of the month, the allowance will be effective in the month received. If the form is received after the 10th of the month, the allowance will be effective the next calendar month.

The total allowance amount to any one person for all communication devices shall not be less than $20 per month or greater than $120 per month, unless there is special signature approval by the VP Finance & Administration or designee. Amounts are rounded up to the nearest $5. Because of the availability for personal use, 100 percent coverage cannot be requested. The maximum amount allowed is 85% of the employee’s cost. Costs in a family plan that are not directly applicable to the employee should be excluded from the request. A copy of the employee’s service provider invoice must be included when the agreement is reviewed by the supervisor AND retained with the departmental copy of the agreement. For cellular phones, the agreement form must include the employee’s cell phone number.

The agreement, with a copy of the service provider invoice as documentation of cost, must be approved by the Dean or Director as budget authority. Send the approved Communication Allowance Agreement directly to your Business Center. Employees receiving a Communication Allowance may not also be reimbursed for business calls within the United States. An employee cannot receive a Communication Allowance for a cell phone and also have a department provided OSU cell phone.

The Communication Allowance must be paid with departmental funds. These include Education & General, gift, endowment, Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF) gift funds, [excludes FAxxxx research grant funds] or reimbursable by OSU Foundation (OSUF) (FSxxxx, FExxxx, 438xxx) funds.  Employee Communication Allowance cannot be paid directly by OSUF or ARF.

The Communication Allowance is not an allowable payment as a direct cost on a grant or contract, ARF research project, AES research project, FRL research projects, or Extension public service project.  Any request for communications expenses as an “unlike circumstance”, such as remote location (field study) or emergency access, must be made to and approved in writing by the Assistant Director of Business Affairs, Office of Post Award Administration (OPAA).  In these situations, OSU-provided cell phones must be used in lieu of a personal communication device paid through the communication allowance so that substantiation of use is documented for audit purposes.


A. Complete a Communication Allowance Agreement including the appropriate approval signature of the employee and supervisor.  Supporting documentation required is a copy of the service provider statement or invoice.  The amount requested cannot be greater than 85% of the cost. The unit will retain a copy with the supporting documentation. 

B. The unit forwards the Communication Allowance Agreement and supporting cost documentation to the Dean or Director of the unit for review and approval as budgetary authority.

C. Send the approved agreement directly to the appropriate Business Center

D. The following non-taxable account code will be used:

  • 22051 Communications Allowance Reimbursement


  • If an employee goes on sabbatical, the allowance will be terminated.  If there is a need to maintain the Communication Allowance when on sabbatical, the employee will need to re-apply with a new business purpose justification due to the change of duties.
  • When an employee goes on leave, the allowance is also “put on leave” or stopped.
  • Employees on a nine(9) month appointment will have the allowance stopped for the summer.
  • Job duties may require that the allowance amount be changed (increased or decreased) or terminated at any time rather than annually on December 31. Send in a new Communication Allowance form for these changes.


Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Circular A-21 D.1 Direct Costs

Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Circular A-21 F.6.b(3) Identification and assignment of F&A costs

Internal Management Directives (IMD) 4.021

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 244.040(1)(a) and ORS 351.070(3)(a)