Chapter 2: Fiscal Responsibilities

2.5 Fiscal Fundamentals

Investigators are responsible for developing and managing their study budgets according to the stipulations of the sponsor and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute guidelines. Sponsored projects officers (SPOs) and research business managers (RBMs) are important partners in this process and are assigned by division.

While they work collaboratively to support PIs, SPOs and RBMs each have a specific area of expertise:

  • Sponsored Projects Officer: Administering submission of funding applications, negotiating and accepting award terms and conditions, executing subcontract agreements, and managing all other sponsored projects administrative matters that require institutional authorization
  • Research Business Manager: Developing budgets, projecting spending plans, monitoring account balances, reporting financial data and overseeing all other financial aspects of sponsored projects

Key terms, policies, guidance documents and resources for navigating the budget process are explained here and in the following two chapters: Monitoring Project Spending and High Risk Areas.

Direct costs are expenses identified specifically with a particular sponsored project. Examples of direct costs that can be directly applied include PI salary and fringe benefits, scientific supplies and travel. By definition, direct costs must be reasonable, allocable (e.g. it must benefit the project at hand), consistent and allowable.

Facilities & administrative costs (F&A, also referred to as indirect costs or overhead) are defined as those incurred by a grantee for common or joint activities and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular project or program. Facilities costs relate to the space in which awards take place; administrative costs include those associated with the overall administration and compliance infrastructure at the CHOP Research Institute.

Actual dollars received by the CHOP Research Institute to fund F&A costs are determined by the Federal government leaving little discretion in negotiating or waiving these costs for any individual award. Despite common misconceptions, the F&A rate determined by the Federal government falls short of the costs required to fully support CHOPs' research. The "more information" tab contains a history of F&A rates, lists of allowable and unallowable F&A costs, and an explanation of how the Hospital's F&A rate is calculated.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has an important responsibility to taxpayers and others to safeguard the assets entrusted to us and to report annually on the sources and uses of funds that we receive. To help accomplish these goals, we adhere to the following Fund Accounting principles:

  • Tracking resources and activities with a self-balancing set of accounts (Lawson account number)
  • Funds are separately maintained to reflect differences in funding sources (resources) and spending restrictions (activity)
  • Funds can be thought of as separate "buckets" which are never mixed with other buckets

Ask the Experts

Sara Dubberly
Sponsored Projects and Research Business Office

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CHOP Research Resources

  • Responsible Department: Sponsored Projects, Research Finance

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More Information

  • Overview & History of F&A Costs
  • Allowable/Unallowable F&A Costs
  • How is Children's Hospital's Federal F&A Rate Determined?

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