MAP | bCONNECTED |
Sponsored Projects

Guide to Major Projects and Charging Administrative Costs to Sponsored Projects: Major Project Checklist

Major Project Checklist

  1. Does the justification include the following statement?

    “The PI has determined that this is a major project, as defined by OMB Circular A-21, and it meets A-21 requirements for direct charging of administrative expenses. All effort and expenses charged to this project will be for services specific to the project, and not for general support of the academic activities of the faculty or Department. In addition, effort charged to this project can be specifically identified to the project.”

  2. Are the administrative salaries clearly labeled as administrative or clerical salaries in the budget and justified in the budget justification?

  3. In the justification, does the PI justify why this specific project deserves major project status according to one or more of the following criteria.  (This should be more than a statement that it meets a criterion.  There should be an explanation of how it meets the criterion.)

    • Number/Volume: Will this project involve a large number of subjects or project deliverables? Will it be necessary to use large data sets or analyze a considerable number of samples, or inventory/display a significant number of artifacts?

    • Complexity: Will the level, degree, or intricacy of the proposed work require greater oversight or management? Will multiple investigator partnerships or subagreements be required? Will the research design be difficult to implement due to project logistics? Are the research questions interrelated and dependent upon the timing and execution of other project functions?

    • Location: Is the project spread across multiple sites requiring a high degree of coordination to succeed? Is the project located all or in part outside the U.S. requiring the need to deal with communication across international time zones, travel to remote locations on land or at sea, payments in international currency?

    • Duration: Will the implementation of the project require long term monitoring and/or analysis, the tracking of subjects or research data over time, or meeting sustainability objectives?

    • Compliance Issues: Will it be necessary to implement and comply with a large number of human and animal subject protocols?

  4. Is the explanation provided clearly unique to this project?

  5. Do the duties described for the administrative personnel fall into one of these categories?

    1. A person with an administrative title who normally carries out only administrative/clerical tasks takes on technical or programmatic responsibilities for a specific major project.

      If the PI determines that the tasks to be carried out by the administrator will be technical/programmatic, the PI should describe in the budget justification:

      • Exactly how the administrator’s activities relate to the programmatic objectives of the project,
      • The percentage of time spent on these technical/programmatic tasks,
      • How this effort will be distinguished from and tracked via effort reporting in relationship to the administrator’s other routine administrative activities.

    2. A person with an administrative title takes on administrative tasks that are above and beyond what would routinely be provided by the department.

      If the PI determines that the tasks to be carried out by the administrator will be above and beyond the normal administrative tasks, the PI should describe in the budget justification:

      • How the administrator’s activities differ from the norm for that department/unit
      • The percentage of time spent on these beyond the normal administrative tasks,
      • How this effort will be distinguished from and tracked via effort reporting in relationship to the administrator’s other routine administrative activities.

Back to Guide to Major Projects and Charging Administrative Costs to Sponsored Projects: Making the Case for a Major Project