Research & Cost Accounting

Frequently asked questions

Research & Cost Accounting 

Can I purchase equipment or supplies for a sponsored project near the end of the period of performance?

Purchases made on any sponsored project must be for the benefit of the project. Purchases near the end of the project are increasingly difficult to demonstrate how they can be used to benefit the project if the project is near the end and likely most of the work has been completed. For this reason, these purchases create additional scrutiny and raise red flags to auditors and will require project‐specific justification and/or sponsor approval. All purchases, especially those incurred within the last 90 days of an award, should be reviewed to:

  • Ensure the item/service was received during the period of performance; and
  • Determine how the item/service provided benefit during period of performance, given that it was purchased close to the applicable end date. Providing benefit means having a reasonable amount of use during the period of performance.
  • Purchases determined to not benefit the project must be refunded on the project or costs should be moved to a departmental funding source.
Can I charge office supplies to my sponsored project?

Office Supplies are normally treated as F&A costs. Refer to Direct / Indirect costs for more information.

Where can I get information about charging foreign travel to federal awards?

Refer to the Travel section under Cost Principles.

What is cost sharing, and what are the different types?

Refer to Cost Sharing under Compliance.

What is pre-award spending?

Refer to Advanced Spending Fund under Setup and Closeout.

What do I do with a check from a sponsor?

Forward the check and accompanying documents to Research and Cost Accounting.

How do I process a payroll funding distribution change? Is it the same for students, staff, bi-weekly vs. semi-monthly?

For graduate students, the department should submit a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF) to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office.  If the salary is being redistributed to a sponsored award, the department must provide justification on how the student's services benefited the project.  

For staff paid bi-monthly, the department should submit a Payroll Redistribution form to Payroll. 

For salary redistribution affecting semi-monthly payroll, the change can be noted on a Payroll Redistribution form or a time allocation report and submitted to Payroll.

Refer to restrictions contained in the Cost Transfers

I have a fund that will expire but has not been completely spent. What are my options?

Refer to Award Closeout under Setup and Closeout.

What do I need to do to get a new Research fund (R fund) set up?

Refer to Award Setup under Setup and Closeout.

What is a Salary Reimbursement Agreement (SRA)? When is it needed and why?

It is an arrangement between Rice and another institution which allows one institution to recover the costs associated with a student registered at the other institution wherein the student is participating in collaborative research activities with principal investigators at both institutions. As an example, if a full-time Rice student were to work on a collaborative project with an investigator at a TMC institution, the student would continue to be paid by Rice and the TMC institution would reimburse Rice for the cost.

Can a PI charge Academic Year Time to research grants?

A faculty member may request the use of sponsored project awards (R funds) to pay academic year salary on the following basis:

  • The faculty member documents that academic year salary is an allowable charge to the project, that the amount to be charged is consistent with effort to be spent on the award during the time periods charged, and that this effort is above and beyond any cost sharing commitment of academic year time.
  • The department chair and the Dean approve the request.
  • No more than 3 months of total salary during a single 9-month academic year may be charged directly to sponsored projects under this policy. The total charged directly to sponsored projects, plus any cost sharing of academic year time, may not exceed 4.5 months during an academic year. Requests in excess of 4.5 months during an academic year require approval of the Provost, and will be granted only in unusual circumstances.
  • The budgeted funds for academic year salary and associated fringe benefits (when the grant pays fringe benefits) released as a result of charging sponsored projects will be transferred to a Designated Fund or Funds at the direction of the school.
  • Salaries charged to sponsored projects in any period may never exceed actual effort applied to the project during that period and cannot include effort committed as cost sharing.

The process is to submit a Payroll Redistribution form or corrected Time Allocation Report to Payroll, including the PI's, chair's, and dean's office approvals; and a budget transfer form to transfer funds from A1 budgets to designated funds.

See also Rice University Research Policy No. 311-98.

What do I need to process if a PI is leaving and is transferring federal funds to another institution?

Consult your grants coordinator in Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance.

What do I need to process if a new PI is joining our department and is bringing federal or non-federal funds?

Consult your grants coordinator in Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance about transferring awards from the PI's previous institution.

In addition, contact contact Property Accounting to make sure incoming equipment can be properly registered.

My award is confirmed, but SPARC has not received it and I need to start spending. What do I do?

Refer to Advanced Spending Fund under Setup and Closeout

Can I charge rental accommodations such as Airbnb and VRBO on my sponsored program?

The University does allow use of these third-party lodging if documentation is retained showing the total cost is less expensive than a single occupancy, standard business room rate.

The Controller's Office is located in the Cambridge Office Building, also known as COB, at the intersection of S.Main street and Cambridge street.

In this building you will find the the following Departments:

The Cashier's Office is a division of the Controllers Office, however, it is located in the Allen Center, directly behind the Cambridge Office building.

Our Location:

Cambridge Office Building
6100 Main Street MS 70
Houston, Texas 77005-1827