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Florida Atlantic University
Division of Research
777 Glades Road
Admin Bldg, Rm 207
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561.297.0777
561.297.2141 fax
jwilkie4@fau.edu


Research Accounting Resources
Glossary of Terms


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

Allocable

A cost is allocable to a project if goods or services involved are chargeable or assignable in accordance with the relative benefits received by the projects. In order to be allocable a cost must be treated consistently in like circumstances. For further information see OMB Circular A-21.

Allowable

A cost is allowable to a project if: (1) the costs are reasonable; (2) the costs are allocable to the specific project; (3) the costs are treated consistently in like circumstances; and (4) the costs conform to any limitations of the cost principles or the sponsored agreement. For further information see OMB Circular A-21.

Auditee

Any non-Federal entity that expends Federal funds which must be audited.

Auditor

A public accountant of a Federal, State or local government audit organization, which meets the general standards specified in generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS). The term auditor does not include internal auditors or non-profit organizations.

Audit Findings

Deficiencies which the auditor is required to report in the schedule of findings and questioned costs.

Award

Financial assistance that provides support or stimulation to accomplish a specified purpose. Awards include grants and other agreements in the form of money by the federal government, state, local government or private organization to an eligible recipient.

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B

Budget Revision

Budget adjustments are to reallocate funds from one budget pool to another to reflect the requirements of the project.

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C

CFDA Number

The number assigned to a Federal program in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).

Closeout

Process of closing out a sponsored project that has ended or is terminated. Closeout includes Principal Investigators completing project and University completing financial, performance or other terms and conditions of the sponsored agreement.

Cluster of Programs

A grouping of closely related programs that share common compliance requirements. The types of cluster of programs are research and development (R&D), student financial aid (SFA) and other clusters.

Consistent Treatment of Costs

A principle that each type of cost is allocated only once and only one basis or and must be treated uniformly as either direct costs or as indirect costs to Federal awards.

Corrective Action

Action taken by the auditee that (1) corrects identified deficiencies; (2) produces recommended improvements; or (3) demonstrates that audit findings are either invalid or do not warrant auditee action.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS)

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) are cost accounting practices listed in OMB Circular A-21 that are designed to achieve uniformity and consistency in cost accounting practices.

Cost Transfer

An after-the-fact reallocation of the cost, either salary or non-salary, to a sponsored project within a 90-calendar day period from the accounting date of a transaction.

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D

Deliverable

The completion of a significant event or requirement defined by the sponsor and is submitted within a specified time period outlined in the agreed upon terms and conditions of the award.

Development

The systematic use of knowledge and understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.

Direct Costs

Costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. For further information see OMB Circular A-21 (Relocated to 2 CFR, Part 220), Section D.1.

Documentation

Providing a detailed explanation and support documents as evidence to substantiate allocability, allowability and reasonableness for a specific transaction.

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E

Evidence of Intent

A document outlining an agreement between two or more parties before the agreement is finalized.

F

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs

Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be readily and specifically identified with a particular sponsored project. F&A costs, also known as indirect costs or overhead, are those costs associated with maintaining the infrastructure of the University.

FAU Project Account

An account established to record the revenues, expenditures and encumbrances of a project or program funded by an external sponsor for the life of the project or program.

Federal Award

Federal financial assistance and Federal cost-reimbursement contracts that non-Federal entities receive directly from Federal awarding agencies or indirectly from pass-through entities. It does not include procurement contracts, under grants or contracts, used to buy goods or services from vendors.

Federal Awarding Agency

The Federal agency that provides an award directly to the recipient.

Federal Financial Assistance

Assistance that non-Federal entities receive or administer in the form of grants, loans, loan guarantees, property (including donated surplus property), cooperative agreements, interest subsidies, insurance, food commodities, direct appropriations, and other assistance, but does not include amounts received as reimbursement for services rendered to individuals.

Federal Program

A program in which: (1) all federal awards to a non-Federal entity assigned a single number in the CFDA; or (2) when no CFDA number is assigned, all Federal awards from the same agency made for the same purpose should be combined and considered one program.

Financial Reports

Report of expenditures on sponsored projects submitted to the sponsoring agency. This report will also contain cost share expenditures and program income (reported and disbursed) for the sponsored project when applicable.

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G-H

GAGAS

Generally accepted government auditing standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States, which are applicable to financial audits.

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I-J-K

Indirect Costs

Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity. For further information see OMB Circular A-21 (Relocated to 2 CFR, Part 220), Section E.1. and F.1. Also known as overhead or F&A.

Internal Control

A process, effected by an entity's management and other personnel, designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives in the following categories: (1) effectiveness and efficiency of operations; (2) reliability of financial reporting; and (3) compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

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L-M

Major Project

As defined by OMB Circular A-21, Section F 6 b (2), a project or activity that requires an extensive amount of administrative and clerical support, which is significantly greater than the routine level of such services provided by academic departments. Major projects are those that are administratively intensive and are not necessarily defined by the amount of funding.

Management Decision

The evaluation by the Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity of the audit findings and corrective action plan and the issuance of a written decision as to what corrective action is necessary.

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N

Non-Federal Entity

State, local government, or non-profit organization.

Non-salary Costs

For purposes of this policy, non-salary costs are supplies, professional fees, travel, equipment and other non-payroll expenditures.

O

OMB

Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget

OMB Circular A-21

Established principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions.

OMB Circular A-110

Standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations.

OMB Circular A-133

Standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies for the audit of states, local governments, and non profit organizations expending Federal awards.

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P-Q

Pass-through Entity

A non-Federal entity that provides a Federal award to a sub-recipient to carry out a Federal program.

Project Account

An account established to record the revenues, expenditures and encumbrances.

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R

Reasonable

A cost may be considered reasonable if the nature of the goods or services acquired or applied, and the amount involved therefore, reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision to incur the cost was made. [ OMB Circular A-21]

Recipient

A non-Federal entity that expends Federal awards received directly from a Federal awarding agency to carry out a Federal program.

Research

A systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. The term research also includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function.

Research Accounting

The unit within the Division of Research that is responsible for financial aspects of post-award administration. Includes, but is not limited to, financial reporting, invoicing, collecting on sponsored accounts, and coordination of external audits of sponsored projects.

Research and Development (R&D)

All research activities, both basic and applied, and all development activities that are performed by a non-Federal entity.

Review

A process whereby transactions are analyzed to see if they meet the standards of allowability, allocability, reasonableness and are in accordance with Federal, State, Agency and University guidelines.

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S

Salary Costs

For purposes of this policy, salary costs are payroll expenses for all classes of employees including students and OPS (salary and benefits).

Service Unit

A service unit provides services or goods to other University units or to various activities within its own unit. The costs for providing the services or goods can be easily and accurately identified and can be billed using an approved rate per unit. This will normally involve recording the costs and recharge revenue in the Auxiliary Activities fund.

SF-269

SF269 is Financial Status Report (FSR) of total outlay of Federal funds for a specific project. FSR includes award amount, expenditures, unliquidated obligations (encumbrances), and unobligated balances. This report also includes cost share and program income (reported and disbursed).

SF-272

SF-272 is Federal Cash Transaction Report of funds received, disbursements made and cash on hand for the project during the reporting period.

Significant Rebudgeting

A threshold that is reached when expenditures in a single direct cost budget category change (increase or decrease) from the categorical commitment level established for the budget period by more than 25 percent of the total costs awarded. Significant rebudgeting is likely to be considered a change in scope.

Single Audit

An audit which includes both the entity's financial statements and Federal awards.

Student Financial Aid (SFA)

Those programs of general student assistance, such as those authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, and similar programs provided by other Federal agencies. It does not include programs which provide fellowships or similar Federal awards to students on a competitive basis, or for specified studies or research.

Sub-recipient (Sub-Contractor)

A non-Federal entity that expends Federal awards received from a pass-through entity to carry out a Federal program, but does not include an individual that is a beneficiary of such a program. A sub-recipient may also be a recipient of other Federal awards directly from a Federal awarding agency.

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T

Technical Report

Report by principal investigator to federal and non federal sponsor for a specific project in the format requested by the sponsor.

Terms and Conditions

For purposes of this policy, terms and conditions are the legal obligations agreed upon by Florida Atlantic University and the sponsoring agency.

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U

Unallocable Costs

Costs that are allowable but are not assignable to a sponsored project because they do not provide relative benefit to the project, or were otherwise not allocable under sponsor guidelines or the specific sponsor agreement. Example - late charges (charges for goods or services that are allowable but incurred after the project end date).

Unallowable Costs

Costs that cannot be charged to a project per sponsor guidelines or any other costs incurred by the University that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21 specifies cannot be included in the development of the indirect cost rate charged, nor as a direct cost to a federally sponsored project, nor included in University recharge rates.

Uncollectible Accounts Receivable

Any costs charged to a sponsored project that have been billed to the sponsor, but subsequent to the billing are determined to be uncollectible from the sponsor.

Uncollectible Costs

Any costs charged to a sponsored project that will not be reimbursed by the sponsor. They include, but not limited to:

  • Budget overruns;
  • Unallowable costs;
  • Unallocable costs; and
  • Other uncollectible costs that do not meet any of the above criteria, but that the sponsor is otherwise unwilling or unable to pay, (e.g., amounts that are disputed by the sponsor, or amounts deemed uncollectible due to sponsor bankruptcy).


Unit

Any organizational entity within the University that has budgetary authority. Includes, but is not limited to colleges, departments, centers, institutes, etc.

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V-W-X-Y-Z

Vendor

A dealer, distributor, merchant, or other seller providing goods or services that are required for the conduct of a Federal program. These goods or services may be for an organization's own use or for the use of beneficiaries of the Federal program.

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