Oregon State University

002: Definitions

Grant, Contract & Gift Accounting Manual
Section 000: Introductory Material
Revised: 03/09/2004

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Account Code

The third element of a FOAPAL accounting string used to identify specific financial transactions. Account codes define the type of activity taking place, such as revenues, expenses, and transfers in the Operating Ledger, and assets, liabilities, and fund balances in the General Ledger.

Accountable Property

Property acquired for a current sponsored project that has not been released unconditionally to Oregon State University (OSU).

Affiliated Foundation

Supports the activities of the institution and must be approved by the president of the institution. OSU affiliated foundations are Oregon State University Foundation and Agricultural Research Foundation.

Agency-Owned Property

Property owned by a federal agency and furnished (on loan) for a specific project.

ACH (Automated Clearinghouse)

This is a method of electronically moving funds from bank to bank, similar to a wire transfer. ACH is available for domestic transactions only.

Allocable Costs

Goods or services that are chargeable or assignable to a particular project.


Cash, receivables, inventories, investments, land, buildings and equipment, intangibles, prepaid expenses, and anything that has a value of property or economic benefits that are owned.

Asset Tag

A permanent identifying label or decal attached to a piece of equipment. Federally-owned equipment also requires a “Property of U.S. Government” tag.


Funds provided from an external sponsor for support of a project at OSU. This term is used for both original awards and supplements; it can mean monies or equipment.




Capital Value

The original purchase price of the item or fair market value at the time of donation, loan, lease, or construction.

Closing of the Books

A process completed at fiscal year end to close all revenue and expense accounts and add net income or loss to fund balance. An additional fiscal period (accrual period 14) is opened in July for any adjustments needed after the last regular fiscal period is closed. No changes can be made to the financial records in FIS for the fiscal year after closing.


Completing the reporting and financial requirements of a sponsored agreement. This includes deliverables, technical reporting and patent reporting.

Compliance - Financial

Act of ensuring that expenditures are made and posted in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, policies, procedures and sound business practices.

Conflict of Interest

Outside professional activities of faculty are encouraged but the level and type of engagement must avoid ethical and legal conflicts of interest and commitment. Conflicts of interest cover a range of situations, such as placing the financial interests of an outside organization or individual ahead of those of the university, attempting to influence a university decision that would benefit a company in which the faculty member has a financial interest; and directing students in research that is devised principally to serve the faculty member’s outside consulting interests. Conflicts of commitment covering such areas as the level of time and creative energy devoted to consulting, compromises the faculty commitment to university responsibilities and expectations. Sponsored program proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation or the Public Health Service require specific disclosures of all significant financial interests.


An agreement for services to be performed by an organization for the awarding agency.  Contracts are generally specific about the objectives, direction, specifications, costs, or methods of performance. A contract requires substantial involvement between the awarding agency and recipient during performance of the research.

Contractor-Acquired Property

Property acquired by OSU, which is purchased with sponsored project funds.

Cooperative Agreement

An agreement that provides for a mutual undertaking by the awarding agency and other parties to perform esearch. Both parties take part in the project and are mutually interested in the aims and benefits, even though there may be a difference in the scope of that interest.

Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB)

A rule-making body established by Congress. CASB has issued four (4) cost accounting standards that apply to educational institutions and have been incorporated into Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21 “Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.”  See GCG 104-07: Cost Accounting Standards Guidelines.

Cost Transfer

An adjustment or transfer of expenditures to or from an externally funded contract or grant account.  See GCG 209-08: Cost Transfers/Redistribution.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Disclosure Statement (DS-2)

The Disclosure Statement is designed to disclose all relevant cost accounting policies and procedures. The statement is detailed and provides necessary information to document compliance with Cost Accounting Standards (CAS). Information in the statement is comprehensive; sections include: general information, direct costs, indirect costs, depreciation and use allowance, other costs and credits, deferred compensation and insurance costs, and central system or group expenses. The disclosure statement requires certification “under the penalty of perjury,” the same type of certification required by Circular A-21 for the Facilities and Administrative Rate Proposal. This statement covers all accounting policies related to sponsored projects, beginning with the proposal and including the recording of costs and the final reporting on the project.

The Disclosure Statement must be submitted and approved by OSU’s Federal Cognizant Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). OSU’s DS-2 was approved August 31, 1998 and revisions have been submitted since that time. See http://oregonstate.edu/fa/businessaffairs/costanalysis/csbindex.pdf for OSU’s latest DS-2.

Cost Overrun

Costs that are incurred for the project that are greater than what was authorized by the sponsor for reimbursement. See GCG 209-03: Grant and Contract Overrun Policy.

Cost Sharing

The financial relationship that results when OSU provides non-sponsored support (usually from education and general funds) for conducting a project.  The portion of project or program costs not borne by the sponsor.  Cost sharing may be mandatory or voluntary, depending on the terms of the award or contract.  Cost sharing is recorded in an unrestricted fund series.  This fund is identified with the sponsored fund in its title and numbering system. Cost sharing shown in the proposal is considered mandatory.  See GCG 212: Cost Share.




The process of setting aside reserve accumulation dollars for the purchase of replacement equipment. Only auxiliary and service center funds contain accumulated depreciation and are responsible for associated costs. All other depreciation is in the university plant fund.

Direct Costs

Direct costs can be identified specifically with a particular project, instructional activity or other institutional activity, or can be assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.




A reservation of funds for a specific purpose within a fund.  Encumbrances can be manually established for travel, personal service contracts, equipment, or other expenditures. The Office of Post Award Administration currently establishes encumbrances for all subgrants and subcontracts.

Equipment (Capitalized)

Tangible personal property with a unit value of $5000 or more, a life expectancy of more than one year, that is not consumed in the course of operation. Occasionally there is a more restrictive definition required by the research sponsor who furnishes the funds for equipment purchase. Software is excluded.

Equipment Share Program

An OSU program identifying equipment that is not fully utilized and making it available for sharing with other OSU researchers or departments.

Expanded Authority

Several federal agencies have adopted expanded authority policies, which are intended to reduce overhead costs, increase productivity, and reduce paperwork.  Where expanded authority has been authorized by the agency to the university, OSU has passed this responsibility on to the PI for most approvals except no-cost extensions, pre-award costs, and budget changes which must be prior-approved by the Office of Post Award Administration currently.  See GCG 103: Expanded Authority - Budget Changes, Pre-Award Costs & No-Cost Extensions.



Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A COSTS)

Formerly known as indirect cost. Expenditures associated with a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement that cannot be directly charged to, nor specifically identified with, individual projects. F&A costs involve expenditures necessary for the development and maintenance of an environment conducive to sponsored projects, including maintenance of facilities and library, and administrative services.  The policy for the calculation of an F&A cost rate is found in OMB Circular A-21.

Financial Administration Standards Operating Manual (FASOM)

The OUS Fiscal Policy Manual (formerly the Financial Administration Standard Operating Manual) – this manual sets the accounting/operating guidelines for the universities in the Oregon University System (OUS). 

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)

FAR–Procurement standards that are applicable to federal contracts. Available on the FAR website.


An amount paid for the benefit of an individual to aid in the pursuit of study or research.

Fellowship Administration Fee

Sponsored fellowships that carry an institutional educational allowance are charged an administration fee. See GCG 208-07: Post Doctoral Fellowship Administration Fee Policy and GCG 208-08: Institution Educational Allowances (Fellowship Administrative Fees).

Financial Information Systems (FIS)

A comprehensive software package for entering, adjusting, and retrieving financial data.  Banner FIS is a complete financial system, with modules devoted to accounting, purchasing, accounts payable, fixed assets, grants/contracts, and budget development.

Fiscal Year

A twelve-month period of time to which the annual budget applies, and at the end of which an institution determines its financial position and the results of its operations. Oregon State University’s fiscal year extends from July 1st to June 30th of the following year. The fiscal year for the federal government runs from October 1st to September 30th of the following year.

Fixed Asset

A piece of equipment that is recorded on the fixed asset inventory. See Equipment (Capitalized) definition.

Fixed-Price Agreement

An agreement in which a price is determined in advance for the performance of a specific project or scope of work. Expenses are not subject to detailed billing. Invoices are prepared for a flat amount or by-task basis. Any residual funds, less F&A, after project completion will be authorized to be spent on further project-related research or made available to the department for use in instruction and departmental research.


Acronym for the accounting distribution code fields in the Banner FIS system.  These fields are Fund/Organization/Account/Program/Activity/Location.

Fringe Benefits (OPE)

Benefits related to personnel listed in budgets that are paid through OSU (personnel does not include consultants).  Benefits are calculated on the portion of the salary charged to the sponsor and include retirement, Social Security, and medical benefits.

Fully Funded Grants

Non-governmental grants that are paid in advance earn interest.  Interest is calculated on the monthly cash balance and is posted quarterly. All restrictions in the grant document must be followed.

Fund Accounting

A method of recording financial information that groups resources into funds based on their source and any limitations on use.

Fund Balance

Fund balance is the excess of the assets of a fund over its liabilities. The term “net equity” is often used for fund balance.

Fund Code

Source of revenue/budget. Examples are: general funds, grant funds, gift funds.

Funding Source

Where the budget or funds for a project or activity come from.



Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

OSU is subject to financial reporting requirements of GASB 34; 35.  For additional information see FIS 607: Depreciation or for full details view the OUS website.

General Ledger

A balance sheet made up of Asset, Liability, Fund Balance, and Control Accounts.


A cash donation other than an endowment, with no legal consideration imposed by the donor, i.e., nothing is expected by the donor in return for the gift.  Such funds are spent in accordance with university regulations and the stipulations of the donor and must not be overdrawn.   A Gift fund earns interest or is charged interest depending on the cash balance, which is calculated monthly and posted either as a credit or a charge quarterly throughout the fiscal year. A gift may be unrestricted or restricted as to use. OSU has established MXXXXX funds for the receipt of gifts.  See GCG 210-05: Gift Funds and GCG 210-07: Gift Fees.

Graduate Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant (GRA/GTA)

Assistantships awarded by departments to graduate students with outstanding records in their undergraduate and/or graduate work. To qualify, the student must: 1) be a regular advanced-degree graduate student at OSU; 2) be enrolled as a full-time graduate student at OSU, completing a minimum of 12 credit hours each term; 3) be making satisfactory progress toward an advanced degree; 4) appointment must be between .20 and .49 FTE per term.  See the Graduate School website for more information.


An agreement that provides for an agency to furnish money, property, or materials to a grantee.  The grantee has freedom to pursue the grant’s stated purpose.  The agency does not specify the manner of performance of the work and is not substantially involved in it.

Grant Ledger (FRIGITD)

Grants and contracts may be in operation for multiple years. These funds are tracked on Banner grant ledger screens in the financial system, which are not limited to current fiscal year activity only.



Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

HRIS module contains employee information used for management decision-making, payroll, reporting, and employee self-service through InfoOSU.




A code that combines the appropriate Fund, ORG, and Program codes. Indexes are used when processing invoices and journal vouchers in the Operating Ledger and for processing payroll in the Human Resource Information System (HRIS). Indexes are not used on General Ledger entries because there is no ORG or Program on these.

Indirect Costs (IC)

Now known as Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs.

In-Kind Contribution

A non-cash contribution to a sponsored project or program provided by a party other than the institution or the primary sponsoring agency.  Third party in-kind contributions may be in the form of real property, equipment, supplies, or services directly benefiting and specifically designated for the project or program.

Interagency Agreement

An agreement between two different agencies of the State of Oregon.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA)

Allows for an OSU employee to work for a federal agency for a specific period of time at their determined location without losing benefits and status as an OSU employee.


Expense or income resulting from investment of funds over a period of time. Interest is calculated based on the monthly cash balance for all gifts and fully funded non-governmental grants.

Inventory Number

A unique asset number assigned to each asset or piece of equipment on the inventory.



Journal Voucher (JV)

A document used to record debit(s) and credit(s) to be posted to the Operating and/or General Ledgers, reflecting a transaction or adjustment made between or within departments at OSU. JVs are also used (in the form of inter-institutional JVs) for transactions between OSU departments and those of other universities in the Oregon University System (OUS) or the Chancellor’s Office. Journal vouchers are also used to post and adjust budget entries and record manual encumbrances.






The financial value of obligations owed.

Location Code

Assignment of building and room location for fixed assets, equipment and building inventory.




A type of cost sharing, wherein a contribution to a sponsored project or program is pledged to match some portion of funds provided by the primary sponsor.  Matching contributions may be in any form acceptable to the sponsor, including cash and third party in-kind contributions.

Minor Equipment

Equipment that is valued at less than $5000; will not be consumed in the course of operation, and lasts a year or more. Exceptions include books, periodicals and reference materials that are not a part of a reference library and property held for resale (e.g. bookstore merchandise).

Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC)

Total Direct Cost less exemptions.  Exemptions are usually GRA Tuition Remission, capitalized equipment, land and building rentals, subcontracts in excess of $25,000 and participant support costs.  MTDC is defined by the federal government.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

An agreement sometimes used between public agencies.



No-Cost Extensions

For most federal agencies, a one-time no-cost extension of time to complete a sponsored project may be requested through the Office of Post Award Administration, using an Organizational Prior Approval System (OPAS) form. All other requests for no-cost extensions must be made to and approved by the funding agency. This must be done 30 days before the end date of the award. See GCG 103: Expanded Authority - Budget Changes, Pre-Award Costs & No-Cost Extensions.



Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

A regulatory arm of the executive office of the President of the United States. Federal grants and cooperative agreements are regulated by several OMB Circulars [A-21, A-110, A-133]. Guidance for preparation of F&A rate proposal included in (A-21). See the Office of Management & Budget webpage on the White House website.

Operating Ledger (OPAL)

The financial record of the day-to-day business of the university over a given time period, by fiscal year. Sponsored projects use a grant code to activate a grant ledger module, which combines all OPAL ledgers during the life of the award.

Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR)

Rules adopted under the Oregon Administrative Procedures Act located on the OARs website.

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS)

 Statutes of the State of Oregon located on the ORS website.

Oregon University System (OUS)

The Oregon University System is comprised of seven four-year public universities. The system offers educational opportunities to Oregonians and students from around the world.

OUS Institutions: Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, Western Oregon University and Oregon Health & Science University (OUS affiliate).

Organization Code (ORG)

Identifies the budgetary unit within the university responsible for the budget, such as a department.

Organizational Prior Approval System (OPAS)

OSU’s system to approve requests to certain federal agencies for pre-award costs on grants and cooperative agreements for up to ninety days prior to the award start date or for no-cost extensions up to one year as authorized by OMB Circular A-110 (commonly known as expanded authority). Requests are sent to the Research Accounting Office, using an OPAS form.  See GCG 103: Expanded Authority - Budget Changes, Pre-Award Costs & No-Cost Extensions. OPAS form.

Other Payroll Expenses (OPE)

Expenditures for employee benefits, payroll and personnel assessments, accrued leaves and graduate fee remissions.

Other Sponsored Activities

Activities that involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research fall into this category.  Examples are: sponsored instruction and workshops, course development, non-research training activities, public service activities, cooperative extension outreach, health service projects, community service programs, conferences, meetings, and other activities not utilizing research space.  This category also includes academic support of libraries, educational media services, and student services.



Participant Support

Expenditures from funds received to support students (not employees) engaged in training or research in a specific field or program. Typical expenses are stipends, dependency allowances, tuition, fees, travel, books, materials and subsistence needs.

Personnel Activity Report Forms (PAR FORMS)

An accounting of time and effort expended by OSU employees. The form is required for all personnel working on grants and contracts to provide documentation to support effort expended toward sponsored agreements, including cost sharing. Student effort is documented by time sheets.

Pending Funds

Process used by OSU to give approval for expenditures to begin before the award is officially signed. The department head can send a written request to the Office of Post Award Administration, asking for a pending fund to be established. Start date of the award will be adjusted to the start date indicated on the award when the signed agreement is received. A signed proposal must be on file before set up of a pending fund is approved. All project costs can be placed on these funds up to the amount authorized by the Department Head.

Personal/Professional Service Contract (PSC)

A contract between the university and independent contractors for professional, specialized, educational, research, or creative services. A personal service contract can be for a length of time, for a one-time performance of services, or for services provided on a continuing basis.  A personal service contract is not used if primarily for a tangible product, even if professional services are needed to design or install the product.  Contact Business Services at 7-4712 for more information about PSCs or visit the Business Services website.

Personal Services Invoice (PSI)

This form is to be used for all contracted services of $5000 or less.  It does not require Contract Office approval and is the tool for payment of that service.  An example of a PSI (pdf format) is found on the Contracts Office website.   A PSI cannot be used to pay non-resident aliens or federal employees.


The official recording of a transaction (document) on a ledger (OPAL or GL). In FIS, the “posting process” is a background batch job that generally runs several times an hour. It takes approved documents and performs the appropriate accounting ledger updates. Once posted, documents will then appear on the transaction listing forms of FGITRND or FGIGLAC, and in all appropriate ledgers, including the grant ledger form FRIGITD.

Principal Investigator (PI)

The person directly responsible for coordinating and managing the timely implementation and completion of a specific project.  Principal investigators must ensure compliance with sponsor regulations for project costs incurred, patents, or licensing and reporting requirements, as appropriate.

Prior Approval Requirements

A federal agency's requirement that changes relating to a sponsored agreement have to be pre-approved by the sponsoring agency .

Program Code

Program codes identify the type of activities for which dollars are spent, such as Instruction, Administrative, Research and Public Service.

Project Director

Typically, a faculty member who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor, also referred to as the principal investigator, or PI. The project director has primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds.





A cost may be considered reasonable if the nature of goods and services reflects prudent action. Generally, charges for goods or services that foster or support the on-going missions of the university are considered reasonable as long as they comply with regulations to which the university and/or project is governed.

Restricted Fund

Fund types used to identify resources that may be available for current operations, but that are to be used only for a specific purpose as directed by the donor or project sponsor. These include amounts received from non-university sources for student aid (scholarships) and construction.

Returned Overhead (ROH)

A distribution of funds recovered on sponsored projects for Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs. An estimate of ROH is provided in the initial budget for those colleges and research centers with active projects. An adjustment to the budget is made in the next budget year, based on a reconciliation of individual funds for the prior year.


Proceeds from any activity sponsored by OSU, evidenced in part by the use of OSU letterhead, and/or using state resources such as employee time and effort, or OSU property. These proceeds must be deposited into an OSU fund. Examples include proceeds from short course workshops and seminars, and testing services. These revenues must not be deposited in affiliated foundations (OSU Foundation or Agriculture Research Foundation).




The federal agency or private entity that sponsors a project and provides funding or other resources toward project completion.

Sponsored Agreement

An agreement between OSU and a sponsoring agency where the agency provides funds for research, equipment, materials and services to be provided by OSU.

Sponsored Instruction

This is specific instruction or training activity sponsored by grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements.

Sponsored Research

Scholarly investigation conducted to obtain new knowledge. Basic or applied research that is separately budgeted and accounted for. This may also be called organized research.


A subsistence allowance for students, post doc’s and participants to help defray general living expenses, in support of those engaged in training or research programs.


An agreement between a party of an original contract and a third party, to provide all or a specified part of the work or materials required in the original award. In most cases, subcontracts must be approved by the sponsoring agency. Subcontractors should be identified in the proposal, including the subcontractor’s budget, their indirect rates, scope of work, and approval from their administration to participate in the project.




Banner FIS fixed asset field that identifies who has title to an asset, and whether the State of Oregon insures the asset.  See GCG 207-03: Guidelines for Ownership Coding of Sponsor Funded Equipment.


Providing a vendor with a piece of used property in return for a credit on the purchase of a piece of new property. See GCG 207-02: Trade-in of Capital Equipment.



Unrestricted Funds

Funds that identify resources with no specific limitations imposed by donors or external agencies. These types of funds represent the resources available for the general operations of the university. Included in this category is the general fund, with revenues primarily from state appropriations and student tuition, royalty income, service and testing income.



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