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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Section II: Externally Funded Projects (Grants and Contracts)


OSU Extension's priority strategy for cost recovery is to capture salary and benefits whenever possible through projects and that are externally funded through grants and contracts. This section provides guidelines that apply to grants and contracts.

All aspects of an externally funded project need to be thoughtfully considered and planned. The early stages of project idea development need to be as carefully reviewed as the later stages of implementation and evaluation.

A. Proposal Review and Approval

Before the proposal is submitted, issues related to subject matter, budget, personnel, and the involvement of other Extension units need to be reviewed and approved by those individuals who will be responsible for the work. Inadequately funded and supported projects are difficult to implement.

For this reason, Extension professionals must adhere to the following approval process for externally funded projects and proposals that will include a contract. Attachment A, Project and Contract Development Flow Chart, illustrates the process.Attachment B, Proposal Authorization form (See attachment) needs to be completed by the person who initiates the project. This chart identifies those who need to review and approve a project proposal before it is submitted. This form and its signatures may be faxed among the required signors.


Proposal Review and Approval Required
Signatures may be faxed or mailed. Emails may be used except as noted.

Approval via Signature or Email required

What approval represents

Person who will be responsible for the work described Is aware and prepared to do the work if the project is funded.
Person responsible for coordinating the home unit resources, including budget Proposed project's budget, space, and support need have been considered as part of the unit's operation.
Colleagues & co-workers whose participation is needed to make the project successful Written approval that acknowledges extent of project involvement.

Extension Director/ Business Office

Proposal represents a sound business decision for Extension in terms of budget and risk levels.

Approval by signature or email required when involved

What the approval represents

Com-Tech Adequate resources are included in the budget to support Com-Tech efforts.
State/District specialists Agrees to participate as described in the proposal.
Specialists' department chairs Adequate resources are included in the budget to support the specialists' involvement.

Copy on correspondence, emails, etc. related to project

To provide awareness and opportunity for input

District Director Proposed project is appropriate for this professional
Assistant Director Subject matter and delivery methods proposed are appropriate.



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B. Payroll Information

When developing proposal budgets, it is important to accurately estimate the project's expenses. Extension believes information about an employee's salary is personal information and whenever possible, average salaries available by job classification should be used.

Sometimes a sponsor requires that actual salary information be included in a proposal budget. This may be necessary when:

  • Part of a salary will be paid from the project funds, or
  • If someone's time will be used as part of an in-kind match.


When this involves more than the proposal writer's personal salary information, permission to release payroll information must be provided by the individual.

Under or over estimating salary costs in a proposal budget may result in a budget that has too little money available to do the work or a budget that has extra money left in the personnel category that cannot be used for other project expenses without obtaining permission from the sponsor.


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C. Forms from Partners

Confidentiality Statement - A community or project partner sometimes may ask an Extension employee to sign a confidentiality statement. As a public institution, the extent to which the employee and the university can comply with the terms of the statement may be limited. Such statements should not be signed before being reviewed by OSURF or the Extension Business Office (whichever is administering the project).

Conflict of Interest Form - An Extension employee sometimes may be asked by a community or project partner to complete a conflict of interest form in relation to the project. Because only the employee can be aware of any possible real or perceived conflict with the specifics of the project, only the employee can complete the form. Before signing any form, the employee may want to confer with OSURF or the Extension Business Office (whichever is administering the project).


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D. Administering the Project

The decision of whether a project, if funded, will be administered by the OSU Extension Business Office or by the Ohio State University Research Foundation (OSURF) is not the choice of the person initiating the proposal. OSURF is structured to support the fiscal, administrative, and legal needs of university professionals who submit proposals and receive external funds. OSURF makes sure projects comply with federal and state requirements, and satisfy sponsor reporting requirements. Extension's proposals and contracts will be submitted and administered by OSURF, whenever possible.

Under some circumstances, the Extension Business Office may need to administer a project. Many factors must be considered before making this choice. These include:

  • Type of work to be done,
  • Funding source,
  • Funding source requirements,
  • Type of contract,
  • Terms of the contract,
  • Reporting and audit requirements, and
  • Ownership of product


Certain aspects of a proposal and its subsequent contract will differ depending on whether OSURF or the Extension Business Office is the administrator. The following chart shows how proposal and contract language and processes vary.



Projects submitted and administered
by the OSU Research Foundation

Projects submitted and administered
by the Extension Business Office


  Contracts can be reviewed and signed within a week. Contracts review and signature process can take one to four weeks, depending on the need to modify the contract and the workload of the OSU Dept of Legal Affairs.


  The submitting party is The Ohio State University Research Foundation on behalf of OSU Extension, XXX County/Office. The submitting party is Ohio State University Extension, XXX County/Unit.


  OSURF signs any proposal cover page, application, or assurances, etc. that require an authorized signature. The Extension Director signs any proposal cover page, application, or assurances, etc. that require an authorized signature.


  OSURF's authorized representative signs contracts for projects. OSURF works with the Principal Investigator on terms and conditions that are negotiable. The following signatures are required for contracts that are not processed by the OSU Research Foundation. To avoid delays, local Extension signatures should be on the contract before it is presented for the Director's and the University Vice President's signatures.
  1. Extension professional responsible for the project work
  2. Person with initiating unit's budget & coordinating authority
  3. Extension Director/recommended by Extension Business Office
  4. OSU Vice President of Business and Finance



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E. Administrative /Indirect Cost Charges

To achieve cost recovery goals throughout the organization, administrative/indirect costs must be charged to projects in a consistent, equitable manner. Administrative costs are charged to projects funded with contracts for services and grants.

Extension recognizes its traditional and on-going partnerships with the following considerations:

  • County appropriations are not charged an Administrative/indirect fee.
  • Programs funded by user fees or registration fees are not charged Administrative/indirect fees.
  • Distribution of the Administrative/indirect costs is addressed in Section III.
  • Administrative/indirect costs for contracts associated with continuing projects and on-going partnerships will remain as previously established.
  • Direct funding of agent cost-share by a county funding partner, such as an agency funding an economic development specialist.
  • Projects and contracts for less than $5000 will not be charged an Administrative/indirect fee when the sponsor prohibits such costs.
  • Units, such as the Data Center, IPM, LEAD, Pesticide Education Program and the Leadership Center, working toward becoming self-sustaining will not be charged an administrative fee if the funding source does not allow such costs.


For FY 2004, the following administrative/indirect costs apply to projects administered by:


  • Ohio State University Research Foundation (for complete details, see
    • 49.5% on campus research and teaching
    • 33% on campus "other sponsored activities" (outreach and engagement)
    • 26% off campus research or instruction
    • 24% off campus "other sponsored activities" (outreach and engagement)
    • 10% minimum allowable administrative/indirect cost recovery for projects administered by OSURF or the Extension Business Office. In the event a sponsor does not allow 10%, the home unit is required to provide the 10% from other sources.
  • Extension Business Office:
    • 24% maximum (This is based on OSURF's Administration component. Because Extension does not incur other costs in OSURF's federally negotiated rate, charging a higher rate is not appropriate.)
    • 10% minimum allowable administrative/indirect cost recovery for projects administered by OSURF or Extension Business Office (see exceptions). In the event a sponsor does not allow 10%, the home unit is required to provide the 10% from other sources.


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F. Cost Recovery Fund Categories and Distribution

There are three broad categories of cost recovery funds. Each one is distributed differently.

New Project Funds

  • Uses
    • Salaries and benefits for staff members who are hired specifically for the project.
    • Materials, supplies, travel, equipment, etc., required for the project.
  • Distribution
    • New project funds, less any indirect costs, are distributed to the home unit where the costs were incurred (county, district, state unit or department). The staff member coordinating the project receives or retains these funds.
    • When several units work together, the division of any new funds should be determined prior to generating the funds.

Release Time Funds

  • Uses
    • Salary and benefits for staff members who are already funded by OSU Extension on non-grant funds.
    • The employing unit "releases" the staff member to work on this project (in substitution for some of the regular work assignments).
  • Distribution (effective July 1, 2008)
    • Salary cost recovery for faculty/staff is divided between the employing unit and OSU Extension.
    • When faculty generate release time dollars, 40% will be retained centrally for OSU Extension, and 60% will be returned to the Extension unit (county or state) where those funds were generated.
    • The policy recommends that of the 60% returned to the Extension unit: 80% goes to the faculty generating those funds, and 20% stays with the unit. Faculty and their unit leader are free to decide on a different split of the 60%, depending on circumstances and unit goals and priorities.
    • This policy is for faculty in the Department of Extension and does not apply to faculty with Extension appointments and tenure in other departments.

Administrative/Indirect Cost Recovery Funds

  • Uses
    • Supports project expenses related to general administrative and support services that cannot easily be determined for each project.
    • May include accounting, payroll, human services, communications, computer support, value of space and utilities, and equipment depreciation, as well as departmental and college administration.
    • Budget category of administrative/indirect costs (percentage of total new project costs and release time for the project, e.g., 10-26%). See earlier section for specific FY 2004 administrative/indirect rates.
  • Distribution
    • The funds collected will be returned to the "home unit" and/or "employing unit as follows:
      • Administrative/indirect costs are allowed by the sponsor, recovery will be divided on the following basis and in the following order:
        • 10% to Extension Administration
        • 5% to the program area
        • Remainder to the home unit.
  • When a sponsor or funding source does not allow administrative/indirect costs to be charged to a project
    • The home unit must provide the administrative/indirect costs from other sources to cover the 10% minimum of the direct project cost.
    • Example: A sponsor pays only 5% administrative/indirect costs. The home unit must provide from other funds the remaining 5% to reach the minimum 10% administrative/indirect charge (Note: this could come from release time funds, if available.)


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