Expense Review Policy

Effective July 1, 2011, Boston University has revised its requirements related to the prior review and approval of sponsored research expense transactions. Sponsored research activity consists of expenses charged to Grants in SAP that begin with 50 (Federal) or 55 (Non-Federal). The following table summarizes those transactions that require prior approval by Research Accounting. For convenience, this table also includes the approval thresholds that were in place in the legacy financial system prior to the SAP implementation on July 1, 2011.

Transaction Type Current Prior to July 1, 2011
Salary and Wage Transactions
Payroll Assignments
(Formerly known as Turnarounds)
No Approval Required Approval Required
Salary Adjustments* Approval Required Approval Required
Non-Salary Transactions
Journal Entry – Original Charges
(i.e. Service Center billings)
No Approval Required Approval Required
Journal Entry – Cost Transfers
(Transaction Code “ZK”)
Approval Required Approval Required
Subcontractor Invoices Approval Required Approval Required
Travel Advances / Expense Reports Approval Required Over $1,000 Approval Required Over $1,000
Shopping Carts and All Other
Non-Salary Transactions
No Approval Required (Except Capital Equipment) Approval Required Over $1,000

*For the purposes of this policy, “Salary Adjustments” include any retroactive revisions to salary and wage distributions and are requested in the “Personnel Actions” tab in the SAP Business Warehouse.

Note that the primary changes relate to the review and approval of non-cost transfer related transactions (except as noted above). Formerly, Research Accounting provided prior approval of all salary and wages charged to sponsored awards as well as all non-salary transactions with a cumulative total in excess of $1,000. This approval was necessary primarily due to limitations of legacy financial system validations. The system was unable to compare transaction dates with the period of performance of individual sponsored awards. In addition, the system did not contain a budget review mechanism. SAP provides functionality to validate dates and budgets and as such, it is no longer necessary for Research Accounting to provide advance review and approval for routine, low-risk transactions.

Principal Investigators (PIs) and Department Administrators must ensure charges to sponsored projects are accurate and in accordance with direct charging practices described in OMB Circular A-21 and university policy. On a monthly basis, the Department Administrator should run financial reports for each sponsored project using Boston University’s Grants Management (Distributed) Reports, which are found in the “Reporting” tab of the BUWorks Central Portal. The administrator must work with the PI to review these reports to review the financial status of each project and to identify legitimate errors.

Research Accounting will periodically review post audit samples to identify potential instances of noncompliance. If unallowable expenses are identified, the department will be promptly notified and asked to move the charges to a non-sponsored account.

Please review sponsor award terms and conditions prior to expense processing to ensure compliance with all sponsor regulations. If you are unsure whether an expense item is allowable on a particular award, please contact Research Accounting at 617-353-4555. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Gretchen Hartigan at 617-358-6361.