REVISED OCTOBER 2018. This document applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements for budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2018

Federal institution, Federal entity

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 principlesThe government-wide principles, issued by OMB (or, in the case of commercial organizations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation [48 CFR 21], or, in the case of hospitals, 45 CFR 75, Appendix IX, "Principles For Determining Costs Applicable to Research and Development Under Grants and Contracts with Hospitals"), on allowability and unallowability of costs under federally sponsored agreements. See Cost Considerations-The Cost Principles for additional details. 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 costsNecessary costs incurred by a recipient for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. To facilitate equitable distribution of indirect expenses to the cost objectives served, it may be necessary to establish a number of pools of F&A (indirect) costs. F&A (indirect) cost pools must be distributed to benefitted cost objectives on bases that will produce an equitable result in consideration of relative benefits derived. 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 approvalWritten approval by an authorized HHS official, e.g., a designated IC GMO, evidencing prior consent before a recipient undertakes certain activities or incurs specific costs (see Administrative Requirements-Changes in Project and Budget-Prior Approval Requirements). is obtained from an authorized official of the employee's agency and the employee is one of the following:

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.