Expense Approval and Documentation Requirements

The following guidelines and documentation requirements must be met for expenses charged to sponsored projects:

  • All expenses charged to a sponsored project must be necessary, reasonable, and allowable for the conduct of the project.
  • All expenses charged to a sponsored project must be supported by dated original documentation identifying the fund charged and approval of the Principal Investigator (PI).
  • No charge may be made against or remain on a project without the approval of the PI.
  • Approval documentation may be in the form of a signed and dated fax, memo, letter, or log by the PI or email directly from the PI to the individual executing any financial transaction including but not limited to cost transfers, salary allocations, purchase orders, or journal entries.
  • For expense transactions that require unit head approval, the approval documentation can be signature on the form as designated, email approval clearly approving the transaction, or similar. Delegations of this signature cannot be accepted. 
  • Documentation, electronic or other, must be available and accessible at all times for audit purposes. If an approval is obtained via email hard copy must be retained with the expense record.
  • All documentation must be retained in accordance with the University of Oregon (UO) and sponsor retention requirements. See the Records Management site for additional information.

Requirements for Sponsor Approvals

Some types of expenditures require the prior approval of the sponsor, even though they may have been listed in the proposal budget. This is especially true of contracts and is sometimes overlooked by PIs.

One cannot over-emphasize the importance of knowing which expenditures require prior approval and obtaining it in advance of the planned activity.

If you anticipate expenditures which may require prior approval under the terms and conditions of your grant or contract, contact your Post Award Sponsored Projects Administrator (SPA) for assistance. This should be done sufficiently in advance of the planned activity in order to avoid an interruption to program activities due to a delay in obtaining sponsor approval. See Expanded Authorities and Project Changes sections of this manual for additional information.