Revised October 2017. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2017.
17.6 Allowable and Unallowable Costs
Allowable and unallowable costs under grants to Federal institutions will be determined by the established policies of the institution, consistently applied to both its own activities and to grant-supported activities, and the requirements of this subsection. In the absence of a governing organizational policy, the cost principles in 45 CFR 75, Subpart E will apply.
Salaries. See Federal (U.S. Government) Employees below.
Institutional Allowances Under Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowships. Institutional allowances may be requested by Federal institutions sponsoring a predoctoral or postdoctoral fellow.
F&A Costs. F&A costs will not be provided to Federal institutions.
Federal (U.S. Government) Employees. Whether or not costs will be charged to the grant, when a Federal employee will be involved in an NIH grant-supported activity in any capacity other than as an employee working on a grant to a Federal institution, or a study subject, special conditions apply as provided in this subsection. The limitations in this subsection do not apply to individuals that are classified as special government employees because of service on advisory groups or as a result of a formal consulting arrangement with a Federal agency. (See the HHS Standards of Conduct at 45 CFR 73, Subpart J for additional guidance.) The Federal employee should consult with their agency ethics officials to determine whether outside activity approval is required by their employing agency.
Only four types of costs-consultant fees, subject costs, salary or fringe benefits, and travel costs-can be charged to NIH grants on behalf of Federal employees, whether by a recipient or a consortium participant, and under the conditions specified only. Applicants/recipients should advise any Federal employee with whom these types of arrangements may be made to consult with their employing agency concerning their ability to participate and to meet the required conditions for payment. The applicant organization must submit, as part of the grant application, any letters or documentation specified below, and that documentation must be deemed acceptable by the GMO before the Federal employee's involvement in the project.
Consultant Fees. Consultant fees are allowable only for medical personnel of the Uniformed Services of the United States (excluding PHS Commissioned Officers) and when all of the following conditions are present:
- The employees are providing the kind and extent of medical services approved in the grant award.
- Adequate numbers of qualified civilian personnel are not available to provide these services, and eligible Federal medical personnel are hired only in addition to those qualified civilian medical personnel, if any, who are available.
- The applicant organization provides prior written authorization from the proposed consultant's commanding officer that he or she is authorized to work on the grant-supported activity during non-duty hours or while on authorized leave, and can be paid for his or her efforts.
Outpatient or Subject Costs. These costs are allowable when the federal employee is an outpatient or subject under study in connection with grant-supported activities.
Salary or Fringe Benefits. In most circumstances no salary or fringe benefit payments may be made from NIH grant funds to support Federal employees. While the level of effort required for the research project must be allowed by the employing agency as part of the individuals' official duties, salary and fringe benefit costs associated with an individual participating in an official capacity as a career, career-conditional, or other Federal employees (civilian or uniformed services) are not allowable. Salary and fringe benefits payments may only be made when prior approval is obtained from an authorized official of the employee's agency and the employee is one of the following:
- A temporary employee specifically hired to assist in the performance of an NIH grant.
- A PHS Commissioned Officer or a civil service employee carrying out duties for which specific statutory authorization exists permitting direct Federal assistance in lieu of cash under the grant, or where the government is reimbursed for services rendered subject to restrictions applicable to such personnel, including the applicable Federal standards of conduct (for HHS, 45 CFR 73).
- A PHS Commissioned Officer on LWOP if the
- recipient has obtained written prior approval from the NIH awarding IC;
- total amount of salary paid from NIH grant funds is proportional to the time devoted to the project and does not exceed the total annual amount of pay and allowances the individual would have received if not in LWOP status; and
- parties concerned have made a prior determination that there is no possibility of dual compensation and there is no actual or apparent conflict of interest or other violation of the applicable standards of conduct.
- A civil service employee participating in a grant to a non-Federal organization and all of the following conditions are met:
- The individual is participating as part of an approved IPA assignment in a role other than as PD/PI. IPA assignments generally do not exceed 2 years and may not exceed 4 years of continuous duration (5 U.S.C. 3372). Based on this statutory time restriction, the involvement of the civil service employee should be limited in scope. Therefore, the proposed PD/PI for an NIH grant may not be participating through an IPA. On a case-by-case basis, the NIH awarding IC may determine that certain other senior/key personnel on the project are sufficiently critical to its long-term success that participation through an IPA is not appropriate. Note, a Federal agency may not send or receive on assignment an employee who has served under the mobility authority for 4 continuous years without at least a 12-month return to duty with the organization from which originally assigned (5 CFR 334).
- Before making any payment from NIH grant funds to such an employee, the recipient must certify that the employee is on an IPA assignment and must provide adequate documentation, as determined by NIH, of the IPA assignment and information about its nature and duration.
- The level of effort required for the research project must be allowed by the employing agency as part of the individual's official duties. Salary payments from NIH grant funds must be proportional to the time an individual devotes to the grant-supported project. The total salary support may not exceed the normal level of compensation from Federal salary if the individual were not participating in the grant.
- The parties concerned have made a prior determination that there is no possibility of dual compensation and there is no actual or apparent conflict of interest or other violation of the applicable standards of conduct.
- A part-time VA employee at VANPCs for which NIH grant funds are used to pay the differential between the individual's VA part-time salary and the salary level for a full-time VANPC commitment in proportion to the level of effort devoted to the project. Compensation must be in accordance with the established policies and salary structure of the VANPC and the total number of VA and VANPC hours should not exceed a full time position. Therefore, if the PD/PI has a part-time appointment with the VANPC, an appropriate portion of the individual's salary that would otherwise be supported by the non-profit VANPC may be charged to the NIH grant. The work paid for by the VANPC must not be for the same project paid for by VA time for VA salary in accordance with the VA policy set forth in the VHA Handbook 1200.17.
Travel Costs. Travel costs are allowable if the employee is
- working under a grant to a Federal institution;
- performing allowable reimbursable services as specified under Salary or Fringe Benefits immediately above; or
- attending an NIH grant-supported conference
- during non-duty hours,
- while in a preexisting LWOP status or one that continues beyond the conference, or
- while on detail to a State or local government, Institution of Higher Education (IHE), or other non-profit organization.
Such payments must be made in accordance with established organizational policy and consistently applied regardless of the source of funds, and the parties concerned must take reasonable steps to ensure that there is no actual or apparent conflict of interest.