3.3 Direct Costs: Materials and Supplies

1. Materials and Supplies

General Purpose Supplies 

You cannot directly charge general purpose or office supplies to federally sponsored awards unless the supplies provide technical benefit as described in the project SOW (statement of work). Example: Aluminum foil used to block light on a telescope.

You can directly charge general purpose supplies on non-federally sponsored awards that do not prohibit it as long as they directly benefit the project.

Technical Supplies

Technical supplies is a broad category of costs that contains the following.

  • all non-capital items
  • laboratory materials and supplies
  • chemicals

The SOW (scope of work) drives what you can budget and spend in this cost category. The costs must benefit the project, and be specifically identifiable to the project. 

Computing Devices

Computing devices are defined as machines that cost less than $5,000 and are used to acquire, store, analyze, process, and publish data and other information electronically, including accessories or peripherals for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information.

Stanford policy which reflects the Uniform Guidance defines computing devices as supplies that may be charged directly to federally and non-federally sponsored awards.

Federally Sponsored Awards

  1. Charging computing devices as direct costs is allowable for devices that are essential and allocable (provide benefit), but are not solely dedicated, to the performance of a federal award.
  2. Such devices are also allowable if solely dedicated to the performance of a federal award
  3. Federal sponsors may impose requirements for these costs to be included in the proposal budget and may require a budget justification. Until the federal agencies release specific information, budget justifications may be used at the discretion of the principal investigator.  Requirements may be forthcoming from each sponsoring agency in fall 2014 or winter 2015.
  4. Inventory tags may be affixed to computing devices at the discretion of the department; inventory tagging facilitates accountability, availability for reuse, and appropriate disposal.

Non-Federally Sponsored Awards

Direct charging of computing devices to a non-federally sponsored project is appropriate if the computing device benefits the sponsored project.  Some non-federal sponsors may have specific requirements for direct charging of computing devices.  Such requirements need to be addressed in proposals.

Stanford’s policy (RPH 15.4) on charging other technical expenses remains unchanged by the Uniform Guidance. 

Animal Costs 

There are two types of animal costs. You must budget the cost to purchase laboratory animals separately from the cost of animal care. Animal purchases are considered technical supplies. Full F&A costs apply.

The cost of  animal care provided by SVSC (Stanford Veterinary Services Center) should be budgeted as "other expenses" A special F&A rate applies to all SVSC animal care. If your budget includes lab animal costs, be alert to the need for an approved lab animal protocol.

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