You are here: American University Finance Controller's Office Grants and Contracts Accounting FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The Office of the Controller, Grants and Contracts Accounting is responsible for the timely preparation of billings and financial reports to sponsors. In some instances, the contract may have special reporting or invoicing requirements; for example, when the financial and technical reports need to be supplied together. These special cases will be coordinated in advance between the Principal Investigator and the Grants and Contracts Accounting.

The BI tool stands for Business Intelligence and is used for ad hoc reporting, the generation and analysis of business analytics and dashboards.It can create reports similar to XEX1, XEX2, XEX3, XGAR and more from Datatel Colleague.The BI tool can be accessed through the portal.

Please contact the controller's office to find current rates

The Principal Investigator must request such action from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) in writing. If sponsor approval is required, OSP will obtain the approval before the re-budget is authorized. For general guidance on re-budgeting for federal projects refer to OMB Circular A-110, Section 25 - Revision of Budget and Program Plans (external link).

Should significant funds need to be transferred from one object code to another as a result of the sponsor's approved re-budgeting, the project brief will be revised.

Travel can be arranged and paid directly by the traveler, with subsequent reimbursement. However, AU strongly recommends using one of the travel agencies with which it has special agreements to arrange grant-funded travel, such as Campus Travel (external link). These travel agents charge fees ranging up to $35, but they can provide for the grant to be charged directly, so that no personal or AU credit cards need to be used. Researchers should contact their Dean's office for more information. All travel charges should be directly charged to the grant account; not the departmental account.

Purchase of alcohol on federal university grant sponsored activities is not allowed. The federal regulations on this are explicit as noted.OMB Circular A-21 section J.3 (external link) states that expenses for alcoholic beverages are an unallowable cost for a grant budget. 

 For private sponsors, reimbursement for alcohol at grant funded functions must be explicitly agreed to in the approved grant budget and those holding the event are required to follow all the policies and procedures of the AU alcohol policy. With regard to personal use of alcohol with private grant funds, the AU travel policy does not allow for reimbursement for alcoholic beverages consumed while on travel for AU business. Even if the sponsor policy on this matter is different, the AU policy governs.

In general, equipment purchased with Federal funds belongs to the university. Per Federal OMB Circular A-110 (external link), title to such equipment vests in the recipient of the Federal funds. A recipient of Federal funds is defined by Circular A-110 as “an organization receiving financial assistance directly from Federal awarding agencies to carry out a project or program. The term includes public and private institutions of higher education, public and private hospitals, and other quasi-public and private non-profit organizations such as, but not limited to, community action agencies, research institutes, educational associations, and health centers.” Note that an individual cannot be the recipient of Federal funds.

This is one of the issues addressed during the grant close-out period. Grant funds are to be used only for the purpose of the grant. If the work is complete, in most cases the funds must be returned to the sponsor, unless there are specific provisions in the agreement. Please check with your assigned OSP representative about your specific grant or contract.

The grant close-out period is the period within 30-90 days before the end of the award in which the Principal Investigator reviews the technical and financial aspects of the award to make sure that all goals have been met and that all funds are properly expended.

The project brief should mirror the dates of the period of performance of the grant agreement. The final financial reporting requirements are handled by Grants and Contracts Accounting (GCA). The Principal Investigator is responsible for the final technical report. OSP handles any non-financial contractual paperwork required to close the grant.

Discuss this with your OSP staff member. It may be possible to request a no-cost extension from the sponsor. Occasionally, the completion of grant or contract work may require more time than originally specified. If no additional funds are necessary, a no–cost extension may be requested from the sponsor. The Principal Investigator must notify OSP in writing of the need for a no–cost extension at least 60 days prior to the project expiration date so that OSP can obtain the sponsor's approval.  

Note: GCA will not change end dates in Datatel Colleague until a signed no cost extension has been approved and sent from OSP.GCA will also continue to prepare and send final financial reports (until the no cost extension has been received).

The University is subject to audit by sponsors for specific programs and is also audited annually for its administration of sponsored programs in accordance with the OMB Circular A-133 (external link). Auditors representing sponsors will periodically examine the University's records for the purposes of:

  • determining whether grants and/or contract funds were used in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and procedures
  • making objective appraisals of the financial accounting system and administrative controls to ensure that programs are being charged with appropriate amounts
  • determining the accuracy of the financial reports and records

Documentation of expenditures that includes original receipts is a requirement for the audit process. The Office of the Controller coordinates all activities with sponsors' auditors. Principal Investigators are required to be available during the audit process.

Any request for an audit or site visit should be discussed and directed to GCA immediately upon receipt of the request and before agreeing to meetings with the external entity. This ensures that GCA can verify the identity of the person making the request and can coordinate with all relevant offices that need to provide information for the audit or site visit. Generally, the visiting entity will want to meet not only with the PI but also with the administrative departments of the schools.