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Policies and Procedures

This page is being updated regularly. More policies coming soon.

Table of Contents

Budget Reconciliation
Cost Sharing
Cost Transfers
Grant & Contract Certification Reports (GCCRs)
Indirect Costs Recovery (ICR)
Key Personnel Effort Certification (eFECS)
Student Funding


It is rare that a budget will allow the purchase of alcohol for hosting. Alcohol is only paid for by the department under the following circumstances, and only with prior approval:

  • Faculty recruitment
  • Department sponsored events: This is defined as an event the department is hosting and has invited all members of the department to attend. For example: annual department retreat.
  • Other pre-approved events: Some events have been given pre-approval from the Chair or Administrator for alcohol to be paid or reimbursed. These are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Include approval email with purchase or reimbursement documentation.

If an event falls outside of the circumstances noted above, please contact the Administrator to discuss prior to purchasing alcohol.

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Budget Reconciliation

Budget reconciliation is the process of 1. reconciling and reviewing all budget transactions and supporting documents to ensure all transactions are valid and appropriate and to resolve any discrepancies; and 2. a high level review and analysis by a person responsible for the budget. In MSE, fiscal staff and grants managers perform 1. For 2. PIs approve for their sponsored projects, gifts, RCR and startup and the MSE Administrator for department budgets. 

  • Fiscal staff will reconcile transactions in MyFD
  • Grants managers will review
  • Fiscal staff and grants managers will work in tandem to resolve discrepancies
  • PIs will receive transaction information to approve via email
  • The transaction information and the PI’s approval will be retained for records retention and audit purposes

For more information on the reconciliation process, visit the UW's budget reconciliation website.

Reconciliation should be completed monthly, within 45 days of month-end close. Keep in mind that special situations such as biennium close (June-July every odd year) may take longer to finish than “regular” months.

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Cost Sharing

If a grant submission proposes cost share, the PI ought to consult with the Chair and Administrator in advance of the submission. They will consider numerous factors:

  • They cannot 'cost-share' effort if the work takes place when they are being paid on external funding. The only time cost-sharing effort can be done is during the academic year, since the UW is committing these funds. Therefore, the department must look into the faculty candidate's appointment (9 month, 12 month) and how much effort they are dedicating to their other grants. 
  • Overcommitting time/effort. 
  • Grants managers will be consulted because they need to account for the total faculty effort being committed to all their grants to ensure that it is consistent with their other responsibilities (teaching, service, research). 

In general this should be a rarely used form of cost-sharing and it should be kept to a minimum amount of effort.

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If Cost Share is Funded:

If an agreement is reached to include cost share in a grant proposal, Cost Share Addendum and other UW and sponsor requirements to document must be completed to ensure that the items in the Cost Share Commitment are identified and correctly valued.

Grant support staff will work with faculty to provide assistance during the process.

If Cost Share is part of a Subaward, the Subaward Cost Share Commitment and Contributions should be reported to Grant & Contract Accounting (GCA) so that it can be entered into the Cost Share Summary and Tracking system.

More on cost share:

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Cost Transfers

Cost Transfers should only be done for the following reasons:

  • To correct an error (e.g., an expense was erroneously charged to the incorrect budget or object code)
  • To correct an error when the value of the transaction is greater than $10.00 (See GIM 15)
  • To re-allocate expenses where the expense can only be initially coded to one or a few budgets (e.g., rent)

A Cost Transfer is not:

  • A financial management tool to be used to move costs for budgetary convenience
  • A means to temporarily post costs on a sponsored budget until a budget number becomes available

Cost transfers into a sponsored program budget must be made within 90 days of when the error is discovered. If, however, the transfer is requested more than 120 days after the transaction date, there are additional requirements to explain why a cost transfer was not made within 90 days. The 120 days starts from the original transaction posting date to when the transfer is submitted.

When it is necessary to correct these errors, departments must provide convincing evidence that the goods and/or services are properly allocable and that the budget receiving the transferred cost actually received a benefit from the goods and/or services involved.

A single cost is not to be transferred more than once.

More on Cost Transfers:

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It is the PI’s responsibility to resolve the deficit.

  1. Fiscal staff will send a monthly notification about deficits.
  2. PIs must respond within 10 business days to notify fiscal staff about how to eliminate the deficit.
  3. The deficit should be cleared within 30 days of notification of non-payment.
  4. If the deficit cannot be cleared within 30 days, provide GCA with a deficit resolution plan as per the PI’s communications with the grants manager.
  5. If the deficit is not cleared or an approved deficit resolution plan is not in place, GCA will contact the Dean’s Office for assistance in clearing the deficit.
  6. If the deficit is not cleared within 90 days of the budget end date or GCA has not received an approved deficit resolution plan, GCA will contact the Dean’s Office for assistance in clearing the deficit. The PI, Chair, Administrator, and the Office of Planning & Budgeting will be copied.

More on deficits:

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Under certain criteria, University and Washington State policies allow for the purchase of meals and light refreshments for employees, students and official guests. Examples include:

  • Recognition events
  • Training events, including student orientations
  • Business meetings to conduct UW Business where a meal or light refreshment is an integral part of the official meeting

A UW food approval form must be filled out and submitted prior to your event. Food purchases are generally not allowed for employees working remotely. Virtual attendance at any event where food is served in itself is not a permissible event for providing food items for remote attendees.

Faculty should choose an appropriate source for food expenses, for instance, RCR. If any gifts or grants support food for training events, those are options as well. Expenses will need to fall within per diem limits. 

For UW budgets that are either not approved for food or have restrictions, faculty should complete the food approval form in advance. The food approval form is used for one-time or recurring events requiring food purchases, which must meet the criteria (see above). In addition, a list of attendees is required when submitting a food reimbursement.

It is the responsibility of faculty to ensure all best practices are followed. They should consult with their grants manager and/or the Administrator if they have questions regarding what budget to use. 

For more detailed information, see UW’s food approval policy.

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When faculty receive notice of a gift, they should request the sponsor complete and send in the gift letter; send the sponsor information on where to send funds; and send the Administrator and the grants manager the completed gift letter and any supporting documentation. Staff will handle intake of the funds.

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Grant & Contract Certification Reports (GCCRs)

Grant & Contract Certification Reports are quarterly. MSE Staff or student employees will send the GCCR to the PI to review, sign and date. MSE Staff sets a return-by date based on University and sponsor deadlines. If the GCCR is not returned by that date, the matter will escalate to the Administrator, and then to the Chair. More on GCCRs:

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Indirect Costs Recovery (ICR)

Grants generate ICR, which returns to the UW and trickles down to the College before reaching the department. MSE has decided to use the total amount a PI’s grants generate and not the final amount that comes to the department. Of the total amount a PI’s grants generate, we take 5% from the department’s portion and give to their individual RCR (research costs recovery).

Example: If a grant generates $100,000 in ICR, the faculty member will receive $5,000. 

The amount for this year should be deposited in your account by around March 15.

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Key Personnel Effort Certification (eFECS)

PIs must certify faculty effort and non-faculty effort prior to the deadline.

eFECS sends an email notification to department personnel who are set up in ASTRA as FEC Coordinators when the FECs are ready for review and certification.

  1. MSE Staff will confirm with PIs that the eFEC is accurate or if any salary transfers need to be completed.
  2. eFECs are reviewed and certified by faculty within 60 days from the day they are released to departments. The "Complete By" date is noted on the left side of the FEC beneath the faculty member's name.
  3. Departments access FECs one of three ways:
  4. eFECS sends automatic notifications to departments throughout the 60 day review window.

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Roberts Hall still uses physical keys. If you need office keys or after-hours access to Roberts Hall, refer to the Assistant to the Chair.

Wilcox Hall has both card readers and key access. Refer to the Administrator to be granted access.

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All hires and new appointments must have offer letters, acceptance, and/or written authorizations on file. Changes to appointment type, FTE and cost center must be supported by written authorizations. Verbal authorizations do not suffice and will not be processed in payroll.

Graduate research assistants, teaching assistants and staff assistants may be offered a full year of funding with details of each quarter’s work to follow if the PI has the funding to support this. This funding must be confirmed by the grants manager or administrator. However, according to their union contract, they must be notified of their exact duties at least three weeks in advance of the individual quarter’s appointment start date. Consequently, MSE Staff will send out messages about quarterly payroll appointments to faculty, and faculty must respond within the MSE-set deadlines to ensure the union contract is fulfilled.

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See the Ordering & Purchasing webpage. 

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Significant rebudgeting occurs when expenditures in a single direct cost budget category deviate (increase or decrease) from the categorical commitment level established for the budget period by 25 percent or more of the total costs awarded. See the most up-to-date information on rebudgeting

In general, if you and your grants manager determine your budget meets the rebudgeting criteria, determine first if the sponsor of the grant or contract requires approval, and work with the grants manager who will submit forms and interface with OSP if necessary.

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Student Funding

Undergraduate: Each student receives $500 total for their senior research project. They and their adviser complete the form and return to the Director of Academic Services or the Undergraduate Program Adviser.

Applied Master’s Program: Each student receives $1,500 for the entirety of their studies. They and their research adviser complete the form and return it to the Graduate Program Adviser. 

Advising Staff will upload the completed forms to the Admin Team’s drive. We use these forms to kick off the transfer of funds to the PI’s RCR budget. We initiate the transfer about two times per quarter. However, students can immediately tap into their funds after turning in the form. They should follow the process on MSE’s Ordering and Purchasing page to purchase.

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Prior to arranging travel:

  1. Read the policies below.
  2. Consult UW Travel Services for more detailed guidelines.
  3. If the travel will be paid on a grant or contract, the grant and contract sponsors may have more rigid regulations, and they supersede the UW policy. Travelers and PIs ought to consult their sponsors.
  4. Note that international travel has additional requirements, detailed below.

For students/researchers paid on a PI’s budget: Preapproval is required in the form of an email from the traveler to the PI and the PI’s concurrence. This is saved as a PDF and submitted along with the traveler’s receipts. It must have a clear date and timestamp in it that show the preapproval was obtained prior to any travel expenses including registration were incurred.

Preapproval must include these elements:

  • Name of traveler
  • Purpose of trip
    • Link to conference website if purpose is to attend a conference
  • Travel destination
  • Dates
  • Budget number/source
  • Items to reimburse (for instance: registration, airfare, ground transport, hotel)
  • Whether an exception to UW Travel Services' maximum lodging rates will be approved
  • The PI’s concurrence as a reply

For faculty: Prior approvals for faculty for a specific trip are not required as this has been delegated to them by Chair via blanket approval. Although it is preferred for faculty to attach a copy of the Chair's blanket approval message to their reimbursement request, MSE staff will attach the chair’s approval if the faculty member does not.

For non-UW guests or visitors: Their letter of invitation may fulfill the prior approval requirement. It should include the preapproval elements above.

  • It is not recommended to pay for someone else’s flights because it entails extra documentation to provide approvals and proof of payment. 
  • Business or first class travel is allowable only under very special circumstances and with prior approval from the Dean of Engineering. Contact the MSE Administrator for more information.

If you are sharing a room, it is recommended that you let the hotel know so the hotel can split the bill when you check out and pay separately. You must also add that information into the comments section on the reimbursement form for continuity and audit purposes.


It is left to the discretion of the PI whether or not the traveler receives per diem or will be reimbursed for actual meal costs as allowable on the funding source. Any banquets or prepaid meals at a conference will be deducted from a per diem. See UW Travel Services for more on meal per diem and limits.

For those that reimburse for actual meal costs based on receipts:

  • Alcohol: it is highly unlikely that your funding source will pay for alcohol. If your meal receipts include alcohol, it will be deducted from the receipt total.
  • It varies whether or not meals for others can be reimbursed. Check with your grants manager about the funding source.
  • Whenever you are requesting meal reimbursement, make sure you attach your flight or travel itinerary so staff can enter dates/times correctly.
Personal Time

If you will take personal time, you are required to attach a PDF of sample airfares/itinerary as if you did not take personal time. You must submit that with your reimbursement and you will be reimbursed for whichever is cheaper.

Special Guidelines for International Travel

All graduate and undergraduate students are required to register international travel itineraries with the Office of Global Affairs. The UW Office of Global Travel facilitates safe and successful travel for UW faculty, staff, and students. Students are also required to obtain UW Student Abroad Insurance. This provides major medical insurance benefits while overseas and evacuation services for medical, security, and natural disaster emergencies, which is not provided by regular GAIP insurance.

International travel supported by Federal funds must use a U.S.-based air carrier (e.g., Alaska or American instead of British Airways; United instead of Air Canada; Delta instead of KLM).

Please see the UW Office of Global Affairs website for more information.


  • All travel reimbursements should be submitted within 30 days of completion of travel.
  • Remember that MSE requires receipts for all reimbursements with the exception of food (if taking per diem) during travel. This includes all parking, gas, ground transport, and other receipts, even if under the UW Travel Services threshold of $75.
  • The reimbursee is responsible for confirming they have not received the reimbursement already, whether through another source or through MSE on a different travel reimbursement request. If you suspect MSE has already reimbursed you and you receive a notice from Ariba to approve a duplicate reimbursement, you should deny the reimbursement in Ariba with a note that this may be a duplicate.

Exceptions to any travel policies due to mitigating circumstances may be considered and approved by the Chair and/or Administrator on a case by case basis, and only with sufficient and justifiable reason.

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