Frequently Asked Questions
- 2.1 What is the depreciation schedule for buildings?
- 2.2 Are major re-model projects capitalized and depreciated?
Equipment Purchases and Depreciation
- 3.1 What is the depreciation schedule (useful life) for equipment?
- 3.2 What equipment gets included for the depreciation calculation?
- 3.3 Is there a depreciation schedule for computers?
- 3.4 What if I dispose of a piece of equipment before the end of its depreciation cycle? Does that depreciation get "collected" upon disposition of the equipment?
Effort Reporting and PAR Forms
- 5.1 How does the annual space survey fit into the F&A rate proposal process?
- 5.2 The space survey is intended to capture data for an entire fiscal's year use. What if my project only uses a lab for 6 months of the year?
- 5.3 My research project doesn't allow F&A costs--do I still categorize my use of space for that project as organized research?
Computer Network Expenses
Cost Accounting Standards
- 7.1 What is a Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Disclosure Statement?
- 7.2 What are the four Cost Accounting Standards?
- 9.1 How do I know what the proper index is for an expense?
- 9.2 Where do I charge alumni activity costs?
OMB Circular A-21
- 10.1 What are the four major functions of a university, as defined in A-21?
- 10.2 What's the difference between organized research and departmental research?
- 10.3 What are the nine (9) F&A cost pools?
- 11.1 How do OSU's program codes relate to the major functions and F&A cost pools outlined in OMB Circular A-21?
Q 1.1 What is OSU's base year?
A Fiscal Year 2013 is the base year for OSU's next F&A rate proposal.
Q 1.2 What does it mean when something is capitalized?
A When an expenditure is capitalized, it is considered a depreciable item and useful life schedules are followed. Typical capitalized expenditures are those for buildings, major re-modeling projects and equipment.
Q 2.1 What is the depreciation schedule for buildings?
A The depreciation schedule for buildings is set by the OUS Chancellor's Office. In FY04, the Chancellor's Office established componentization for the OUS campuses, which includes OSU. OSU has currently used componentization on 10 buildings.
Q 2.2 Are major re-model projects capitalized and depreciated?
A Major re-model projects are defined as those that cost greater than $100,000 and substantially improve the life of a building. An example would be a complete "re- do" of an office into laboratory space that costs $150,000. Again, OUS has established the depreciation schedule for these types of re-model projects, and the useful life is 20 years.
Equipment Purchases and Depreciation
Q 3.1 What is the depreciation schedule (useful life) for equipment?
A The depreciation schedule for equipment is set by the OUS Chancellor's Office. You can find the information on OSU's Property Management website. The link is as follows: http://oregonstate.edu/fa/businessaffairs/inventorycontrol. Keep in mind that OSU's definition of equipment is found in our current F&A rate agreement--"tangible nonexpendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit."
Q 3.2 What equipment gets included for the depreciation calculation?
A OSU accepts the responsibility of depreciation expense for all assets except those that belong to Proprietary Funds, e.g., auxiliary enterprises and service centers. These units include their equipment depreciation in the rates charges for their services.
Q 3.3 Is there a depreciation schedule for computers?
A If a computer does not have a unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or more, it is not considered equipment, and is not subject to depreciation. These items are considered minor equipment. If a computer does have a unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or more, it is capitalized, and the useful life is five (5) years.
Q 3.4 What if I dispose of a piece of equipment before the end of its depreciation cycle? Does that depreciation get "collected" upon disposition of the equipment?
Effort Reporting and PAR Forms
Q 4.1 How do I record faculty committee work on a PAR form?
A According to OMB Circular A-21, "salaries and fringe benefits attributable to the administrative work (including bid and proposal preparation) of faculty (including department heads), and other professional personnel conducting research and/or instruction, shall be allowed at a rate of 3.6 percent of modified total direct costs." The allowance is added to the computation of the F&A cost rate, and OSU is not required to provide documentation to support the allowance. OSU considers faculty committee work covered within this 3.6% allowance. Keep in mind that OSU's policy on Personnel Activity Reporting stipulates that PAR forms and labor distribution must be corrected when "substantial changes" are made in the employee's effort. Substantial change is defined as "in excess of plus/minus 5 percent". The policy and associated procedure is found at the following website: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/budgets/GCGManual/GCG211.htm
Q 4.2 Who gets a PAR form at OSU?
A Any faculty and staff (including Graduate Research Assistants and Graduate Teaching Assistants) that performed any paid or cost-shared effort on grants, contracts or state-wide public service projects during a term will receive a PAR form. The PAR form is used to verify and certify professional effort on sponsored programs, and is done on a quarterly basis. Student effort on sponsored programs is verified and certified on monthly timesheets, and is maintained at the department level.
Q 5.1 How does the annual space survey fit into the F&A rate proposal process?
A Information from the space survey is used for many purposes--classroom planning and scheduling, master planning for OSU, OUS, State and City of Corvallis, and the F&A rate proposal process. Space codes are used to determine how the Building Depreciation, Equipment Depreciation and Operations and Maintenances indirect cost pools are allocated to the four functions of organized research, other sponsored activities, instruction and other institutional activities. OSU's space survey is conducted annually, and the entire campus is surveyed. In FY05, the spring 2005 survey data will be used for the F&A rate proposal.
Q 5.2 The space survey is intended to capture data for an entire fiscal's year use. What if my project only uses a lab for 6 months of the year?
A The space would be "annualized" for the fiscal year, and therefore that project would only be using space 50% of the fiscal year. Space should be coded as 50% organized research and 50% for instruction/department research.
Q 5.3 My research project doesn't allow F&A costs--do I still categorize my use of space for that project as organized research?
Computer Network Expenses
Q 6.1 How do computer network expenses get captured in the F&A rate proposal process?
A Costs such as the Community Network charges should be treated as a departmental administration expense. The function of an expense determines where it goes in the calculation process, and the use of Community Network hook- ups cannot be easily identified between research, other sponsored activities, instruction, other institutional activities, and department administration. Therefore it is appropriate to treat these costs as F&A expenses. Look at the chart entitled "Identifying and Assigning an Individual Cost". There are some Colleges (e.g., Forestry) that have their computer network established as a service center. This is appropriate because they establish an annual rate and charge all users the same rate (e.g., a grant in the College of Forestry is charged the same for computer network usage as an accountant in the Dean's Office). This type of operation would be considered a service center in OSU' Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Disclosure Statement, and service center policies and procedures must be followed. In the F&A rate proposal, service centers are categorized as an Other Institutional Activity (OIA).
Cost Accounting Standards
Q 7.1 What is a Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Disclosure Statement?
A The 1996 revision to OMB Circular A-21 included a requirement for submission of a cost accounting disclosure statement by all universities that receive $25M or more in Federally sponsored agreements. This disclosure statement (called a DS- 2) is submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). OSU was one of the first universities to submit a DS-2 and receive approval. The DS-2 describes how OSU generally operates, how it treats certain costs and functions, and how it meets the four cost accounting standards outlined in OMB Circular A-21.
Q 7.2 What are the four Cost Accounting Standards?
A The four cost accounting standards are: (1) consistency in estimating, accumulating and reporting costs; (2) consistency in allocating costs incurred for the same purpose; (3) accounting for unallowable costs; and (4) cost accounting period (note: OSU uses its fiscal year for its cost accounting period).
Q 8.1 Does volunteer time--used as cost sharing or matching--get counted in the F&A rate calculation?
A No. Only those costs that are recorded in BANNER are included in the calculation. The F&A rate calculation is based upon the audited financial statement of expenditures during OSU's base year. If an OSU expense is incurred during the base year, it gets counted in the calculation in some manner.
Q 9.1 How do I know what the proper index is for an expense?
A The function of an expense should dictate where the cost is recorded. For example, if a travel expense is made for the purpose of reporting the results of a sponsored project, it gets charged to the sponsored project index. If the travel expense is made for the purpose of learning new ways for administering sponsored projects, it gets charged to a departmental administration index. If the travel expense is made for the purpose of learning new ways to teach physics, it gets charged to an instruction index.
Q 9.2 Where do I charge alumni activity costs?
A There are four options for charging alumni activity costs: (1) using E&G funds that have an Org xxx640 are designated as Development Support; (2) using FS indexes that end in a "V" (e.g., FSxxxV); (3) using gift indexes that end in a "V" (MxxxxV); (4) sending bills directly to the Foundation.
OMB Circular A-21
Q 10.1 What are the four major functions of a university, as defined in A-21?
A OMB Circular A-21 defines the major functions of an institution as instruction, organized research, other sponsored activities and other institutional activities. The following definitions come directly from OMB Circular A-21: Instruction means the teaching and training activities of an institution. Except for research training as provided in subsection b, this term includes all teaching and training activities, whether they are offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non credit basis, and whether they are offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions, such as a summer school division or an extension division. Also considered part of this major function are departmental research, and, where agreed to, university research.
- 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. Departmental research, for purposes of this document, is not considered as a major function, but as a part of the instruction function of the institution.
Organized research means all research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for. It includes:
- 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 (commonly called research training) where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function.
- 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. University research, for purposes of this document, shall be combined with sponsored research under the function of organized research.
Other sponsored activities means programs and projects financed by Federal and non Federal agencies and organizations which involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research. Examples of such programs and projects are health service projects, and community service programs. However, when any of these activities are undertaken by the institution without outside support, they may be classified as other institutional activities. Other institutional activities means all activities of an institution except:
- instruction, departmental research, organized research, and other sponsored activities, as defined above;
- F&A cost activities identified in Section F; and
- specialized service facilities described in Section J.47. Other institutional activities include operation of residence halls, dining halls, hospitals and clinics, student unions, intercollegiate athletics, bookstores, faculty housing, student apartments, guest houses, chapels, theaters, public museums, and other similar auxiliary enterprises. This definition also includes any other categories of activities, costs of which are "unallowable" to sponsored agreements, unless otherwise indicated in the agreements.
Q 10.2 What's the difference between organized research and departmental research?
A OMB Circular A-21 defined organized research as "all research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for." It includes sponsored research, which is all "research and development activities that are sponsored by Federal and non Federal agencies and organizations", and university research, which is "all research and development activities that are separately budgeted and accounted for by the institution under an internal application of institutional funds." Examples of university research would be OSU's Centers and Institutes and all of the projects funded under the Hatch Act, the McIntire-Stennis Act, and their matching components.
OMB Circular A-21 defines departmental research as "research, development and scholarly activities that are not organized research and, consequently, are not separately budgeted and accounted for." It goes on to say that departmental research, for purposes of the F&A rate calculation, is considered to be part of the instructional function. Examples of departmental research would be faculty start-up monies.
Q 10.3 What are the nine (9) F&A cost pools?
A The nine F&A cost pools are divided between Facilities and Administration. OMB Circular A-21 defines these as follows: "'Facilities' is defined as depreciation and use allowances, interest on debt associated with certain buildings, equipment and capital improvements, operation and maintenance expenses, and library expenses. `Administration' is defined as general administration and general expenses, departmental administration, sponsored projects administration, student administration and services, and all other types of expenditures not listed specifically under one of the subcategories of Facilities (including cross allocations from other pools)."
Q 11.1 How do OSU's program codes relate to the major functions and F&A cost pools outlined in OMB Circular A-21?
A The BANNER program codes are designed to fit within these categories. The Fiscal Operations Manual has a description of OSU's program codes. The website is: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/budgets/FISManual/FIS1405-02.htm. A visual representation of how the most commonly used program codes can be found on slide 13 of the staff training materials.