NIH Grants Policy Statement
Revised October 2017. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2017.

7.5 Cost Transfers, Overruns, and Accelerated and Delayed Expenditures

Cost transfers to NIH grants by recipients, consortium participants, or contractors under grants that represent corrections of clerical or bookkeeping errors should be accomplished within 90 days of when the error was discovered. The transfers must be supported by documentation that fully explains how the error occurred and a certification of the correctness of the new charge by a responsible organizational official of the recipient, consortium participant, or contractor. An explanation merely stating that the transfer was made "to correct error" or "to transfer to correct project" is not sufficient. Transfers of costs from one project to another or from one competitive segment to the next solely to cover cost overruns are not allowable.

Recipients must maintain documentation of cost transfers, pursuant to 45 CFR 75.364, and must make it available for audit or other review (see Administrative Requirements-Monitoring-Record Retention and Access). The recipient should have systems in place to detect such errors within a reasonable time frame; untimely discovery of errors could be an indication of poor internal controls. Frequent errors in recording costs may indicate the need for accounting system improvements, enhanced internal controls, or both. If such errors occur, recipients are encouraged to evaluate the need for improvements and to make whatever improvements are deemed necessary to prevent reoccurrence. NIH also may require a recipient to take corrective action by imposing additional terms and conditions on an award(s).

The GMO monitors recipient expenditure rates under individual grants within each budget period and within the overall project period. The funding that NIH provides for each budget period is based on an assessment of the effort to be performed during that period and the recipient's associated budget, including the availability of unobligated balances. Although NIH allows recipients certain flexibilities with respect to rebudgeting (see Administrative Requirements-Changes in Project and Budget), NIH expects the rate and types of expenditures to be consistent with the approved project and budget and may question or restrict expenditures that appear inconsistent with these expectations.

The GMO may review recipient cash drawdowns to determine whether they indicate any pattern of accelerated or delayed expenditures. Expenditure patterns are of particular concern because they may indicate a deficiency in the recipient's financial management system or internal controls. Accelerated or delayed expenditures may result in a recipient's inability to complete the approved project within the approved budget and period of performance. In these situations, the GMO may seek additional information from the recipient and may make any necessary and appropriate adjustments.