Office of Research

Supplies, Contractual Services and Miscellaneous

Competition in Procurement Transactions

All procurement transactions must provide open and free competition to the maximum extent practical. The PI and others involved in purchasing project supplies and equipment should remain alert to organizational conflicts and noncompetitive practices among contractors, when these may restrict or eliminate competition or otherwise restrain trade. Contractors who develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, invitations for bids and/or requests for proposals are excluded from competing for such procurements. Awards shall be given to the bidder whose bid is responsive to the solicitation and is most favorable to the recipient, considering price, quality and other factors. Solicitations must clearly communicate exactly what must be included in a submitted bid before it can be evaluated. Any and all bids or offers may be rejected when rejection is in the recipient’s interest. This group of transactions includes supplies, computer services, contractual services, telephone, subcontracts and miscellaneous expenditures as follows:

  • Materials and Supplies: The costs of materials and supplies (tangible personal property other than equipment, having an acquisition cost of less than $5,000 per unit and a useful life of less than one year) necessary to carry out the project are allowable as prescribed in the governing cost principles.
  • Scientific/Technical/Special Purpose Software: Special purpose software used only for research, medical, scientific or other technical activities is allowable. Examples include molecular simulation software, data acquisition software, chemical structure software, graphics software, technical drawing software.
  • Special Purpose/Scientific/Technical Supplies: Special purpose supplies used only for research, medical, scientific or other technical activities are allowable. Examples include fuses, chemicals, thermocouples, lab notebooks and glassware.
  • General Office Supplies: General office supplies are not normally charged to sponsored projects and are considered unallowable. Examples of general supplies used in an office for routine activities include copy paper, printer toner cartridges, pens, labels, file folders, calculators, telephones, answering machines, file cabinets and bookcases.
  • General Office Software: General software used in an office for routine activities is not normally charged to sponsored projects and is considered unallowable. Examples include word processing packages, spreadsheets and general databases.
  • Computer Costs: The costs of leasing automated data processing equipment are allowable, up to an amount the grantee would be allowed had it purchased the equipment and to the extent the rates are reasonable according to factors such as those described in Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Subpart 31.205-36. Leasing should be clearly identified in the project budget.
  • Consultant Services: Costs of legal, accounting, consulting services and related costs incurred in connection with organization, defense of antitrust suits and the prosecution of claims against the government are unallowable. Costs of legal, accounting, consulting services and related costs incurred in connection with patent infringement litigation are unallowable unless otherwise provided for in the grant. Consultant costs should be itemized in the proposal budget. Costs of qualified professional consultants who are not officers or employees of Clemson University are allowable when reasonable in relation to the services rendered. The employment of consultants must follow written organizational procedures that comply with governing federal cost principles, the expense must be within the limits of the grant funds and reallocations must comply with the grantee’s policies. Some federal agencies restrict the amount that consultants may be paid on federally funded projects to the daily equivalent of an ES-4 federal employee. The compensation limitation to the level of an ES-4 is the limit for personal compensation exclusive of facilities and administrative costs, travel, per diem, clerical services, vacation, fringe benefits and supplies which may be allowed as appropriate. Consultant travel should follow federal guidelines as previously explained under Travel. Contact Grants and Contracts Administration before committing to a consultant or incurring expenses.
  • Meetings and Conferences: For federally sponsored programs, the costs of meetings and conferences are allowable when the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information; however, some individual sponsors do not allow these costs. Be sure to review the project agreement, consult the sponsor or contact Grants and Contracts Administration before incurring expenses. These expenses must be specified in the original proposal, even for federal sponsors. The following costs are generally allowed by most sponsors:
    • Conference Facilities: Rental of facilities and necessary equipment is allowable.
    • Supplies: The purchase of expendable materials and supplies necessary for the meeting is allowable.
    • Conference Services: Costs of translation services and of recording and transcribing the proceedings, are allowable.
    • Publication Costs: Costs of publishing the proceedings are allowable only if prior approval, in writing, has been given by the sponsor.
    • Salaries: Salaries of professional personnel are allowable only in proportion to the time or effort devoted to the preparation and conduct of the conference and summarizing its results.
    • Consultant Services and Speaker Fees: Reasonable fees and travel allowances are allowable.
    • Meals and Coffee Breaks: When certain meals are an integral and necessary part of a conference (i.e., when there are time restrictions and business must be transacted during lunchtime and meals are ordered in) grant funds may be used for such meals. Meals at a local restaurant with the conference presenter are not considered working meals. Grant funds may also be used for furnishing a reasonable amount of coffee and soft drinks to conference participants and attendees during periodic coffee breaks. An agenda should be included with the direct purchase voucher.
  • Memberships, Dues, Subscriptions: Professional personal memberships, dues and subscriptions are not normally charged to sponsored projects. If the sponsor specifically requires and or mandates them, they may be charged as a direct cost.
  • Recruiting/Relocation Costs: Advertising costs, travel costs and relocation costs of applicants are allowable recruitment costs. However, if the newly hired employee resigns for reasons within his/her control within 12 months after hire, the University is required to refund such costs to the federal government.

Subcontracts (SUBCON)

Subcontracts are issued to a third party when projects require expertise and/or facilities not available at Clemson University. The third party organization must be identified in the approved proposal budget. (See the section titled "Subcontracts" in the Project and Grant Management Section for further details.)

In determining whether subcontract costs in a particular case are allowable, no single factor or any special combination of factors is necessarily determinative.

However, the following factors, among others, are relevant:

  • the nature and scope of the service rendered in relation to the service required;
  • the necessity of contracting for the service, considering the organization’s capability in the particular area;
  • the past pattern of such costs, particularly in the years prior to the award of government contracts and grants;
  • the impact of government contracts and grants on the organization’s total activity (i.e., what new problems have arisen);
  • whether the proportion of government work to the organization’s total activity is such as to influence the organization in favor of incurring the cost, particularly where the services rendered are not of a continuing nature and have little relationship to work under government contracts and grants;
  • whether the service can be performed more economically by employment rather than by consulting;
  • the qualifications of the individual or concern rendering the service and the customary fees charged. especially on non-government contracts and grants;
  • the adequacy of the contractual agreement for the service (e.g., description of the service, estimate of time required, rate of compensation, and termination provisions).

In addition, to be allowable, retainer fees must be supported by evidence of bona fide services available or rendered.

Participant Support Costs (PARTSP)

Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia or training projects. Participant support costs for students or other external participants (teachers, workshop attendees or students from other universities) may not be charged as a payroll cost.

No participant support allowance may be paid to persons receiving compensation, directly or indirectly, from other federal sources.

To help defray the costs of personal maintenance while participating in a conference or training activity, participants may be paid a stipend, per diem or subsistence allowance, based on the type and duration of the activity, as outlined in the pertinent program announcement and in the award instrument. Such allowances must be reasonable, in conformance with the usual policy of the grantee organization and limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus the actual travel time required to reach the conference location by the most direct route available. If meals or lodging are provided without charge or at a nominal cost (e.g., as part of the registration fee), the per diem or subsistence allowance will be correspondingly reduced.

Payments made directly to or for the benefit of the participant, which are substantiated, are not reportable to the Internal Revenue Service. Direct payments to or payments made on behalf of a nonresident alien are reportable to the Internal Revenue Service. Direct payments such as stipends or allowances paid without substantiation that exceed $600 annually are reportable to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1099. Specific budget codes must be used for these costs.

Although local participants may participate along with other participants in conference meals and coffee breaks, grant funds may not be used to pay per diem or similar expenses for local participants in the conference. This applies even if they are serving as hosts or otherwise participating at meals that are primarily social occasions involving speakers or consultants. Costs of amusement, diversion, social activities and ceremonials, and related incidental costs such as bar charges and personal telephone calls of participants or guests, are unallowable.

Student Aid (STUAID)

This represents money given for a student’s tuition, stipends, books and support material.

Equipment (EQUIP)

Scientific/Technical (special purpose) equipment that is actually used for the performance of the sponsored agreement is allowable. It should be listed in the project budget prior to processing. The federal definition of equipment, adopted by Clemson University, is "an article of non-expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more." Some sponsors require prior approval for equipment purchases. Please review the grant agreement or contact Grants and Contracts Administration before purchasing equipment to ensure that the costs are allowable. All equipment purchased on sponsored projects is considered property of Clemson University unless otherwise specified by the sponsor.

Expenditures for special purpose equipment are allowable as direct costs, provided the acquisition of items with a unit cost of $5,000 or more, is:

  • necessary for the research supported by the grant,
  • not reasonably available and accessible,
  • of the type normally charged as a direct cost to sponsored agreements, and
  • purchased in accordance with institutional policies and procedures.

All equipment should be ordered well in advance of the end date to ensure that the purchase is necessary for the performance of the research supported by the project. If equipment is ordered during the last ninety days of the project, the principal investigator should include a justification on the requisition. If for any reason equipment that has been ordered in good faith will not be received until after a project has terminated or will be received too late in the project for effective use, all reasonable effort must be made to cancel the order or to charge the equipment to other funds.

General office equipment, used in an office for routine activities, such as fax machines, copiers, modems and computers/upgrades are not allowable.