3.0 Where Should A Person's Salary Be Charged?


An employee or student’s salary should always be charged to the cost object(s) related to the project or activity he/she is working on, in the following order of preference:

  1. Active cost object
  2. Pending WBS cost object, set up by OSP – see below
  3. Payroll suspense cost object of the department or lab where the employee or student is working. Note that if an individual is working for a different DLC than the home department, it is up to the DLC to move the charges to the appropriate suspense depending on where the individual is actually working. SAP will use the suspense cost object of the HR Org Unit attached to the appointment.

Suspensed payroll charges must be transferred from the suspense cost object on a timely basis, defined as within 90 days after the end of the quarter in which the suspense postings were made.

For more information on payroll suspense, see Payroll Suspense Process>>

3.1 Pre-award WBS in Pending Status
When work may begin on a project (WBS element) depends on the terms and conditions of the research award and the sponsor/agency policy. A rule of thumb is that a Principal Investigator may incur pre-award costs up to 90 days prior to the effective date of the project. As negotiations progress toward the award, OSP may set up a WBS cost object in pending status to collect these expenses even though the award has not been received. Salaries and other expenses may be charged to WBS’s in pending status but no bills to the sponsor will be generated until the WBS status is changed to active.

In no circumstance should charges in anticipation of a new award be incurred against an existing research cost object, federal or non-federal.

These costs are allowable if there is an award. Although it is rare, there are situations where pre-award costs have been authorized but the contract is never finalized. In these situations, the PI/department is responsible for the costs incurred if the award doesn’t come to fruition.