Uniform Guidance 200.473 Shipping Costs
Per Uniform Guidance, Subpart E, Section, 200.473, Transportation Costs, cost such as shipping are allowable when the cost directly relate to the research.
Uniform Guidance states:
Costs incurred for freight, express, cartage, postage, and other transportation services relating either to goods purchased, in process, or delivered, are allowable. When such costs can readily be identified with the items involved, they may be charged directly as transportation costs or added to the cost of such items. Where identification with the materials received cannot readily be made, inbound transportation cost may be charged to the appropriate indirect (F&A) cost accounts if the non-Federal entity follows a consistent, equitable procedure in this respect. Outbound freight, if reimbursable under the terms and conditions of the Federal award, should be treated as a direct cost.
What this means:
Shipping cost (FedEx, UPS, USPS) are typically covered as an indirect cost unless a direct need or purpose for the research project is easily identified and documented as such. If purpose does not benefit the project directly, then costs should be applied to allowable non-sponsored funding.
- The cost of shipping soil samples would be allowable and that the shipment needs to be clearly identified as such.
- The cost to ship results to a collaborator to be analyzed would be allowable.
- Shipping and handling charges on a supply purchase can be coded as a supply. Knowing some vendors shipping and handling can be expensive, it is acceptable to provide UW shipping info for cost savings. If so, you need to clearly tie back these charges to the purchase documentation.
- The cost to ship out a proposal would not be allowable.
- General purpose shipments and correspondence cost should be treated as indirect costs and not charged to a sponsored grant.
The shipper (e.g., department, center, lab, PI) needs to be able to document what has been shipped and briefly explain why it is being shipped. Current UPS and FedEx invoices do not provide enough detail. This means it is up to the shipper to provide further documentation.
Does your process clearly describe what was shipped?
The Dept of Food Science has a good process in place. They have created a Shipment Request form. This form has two uses. (1) It provides the extra justification needed, and (2) it can be used as the receipt/documentation if the UPS or FedEx receipt becomes misplaced. The form is available on the CALS Business Services form page.
Questions about transportation costs, allowability of costs, or how best to document costs of this type, please contact a CALS Business Services Accountant.
Resources and Helpful Links
- RSP Uniform Guidance
- See page 99 in the NCURA blue-colored guide