Office Supplies, Postage & Telephone – Guidelines for Charging to Externally Sponsored Projects

Under Uniform Guidance, costs related to general office supplies (i.e., paper, pencils, toner cartridges, file folders, paper clips, etc.), postage, and telephone expenses (i.e., installation charges, monthly use charges & local access calls) incurred in support of routine administrative activities of the university are considered indirect (F&A) costs and should not normally be charged to sponsored projects.  To directly charge these items to a project, the PI is responsible for justifying how the item will directly benefit the project and why it should not be considered a routine administrative activity. 

Generally, it is expected that the need for these items is fully described and justified in the proposed narrative or budget or otherwise approved by the sponsor.  Otherwise, documentation must be established in the department to:

  • Describe how the expense directly benefits the project
  • Identify how it is unlike a general purpose item
  • Be retained throughout the record retention period for audit purposes

Unlike circumstances could include:

  • Postage to disseminate surveys
  • Telephone lines, including data lines, modems & telephones used to conduct surveys or for remote locations
  • Office supplies that are project specific

Last updated: 11/13/2015