Guidelines for Charging ITS Fees to Grants

General Principles

Services and systems that directly support research activities may generally be charged to a grant. Services and systems used indirectly for research but that also support activities besides research are generally not charged to grants. In some cases, there are particular facts and circumstances or specific regulations that determine if a service or system may be charged all or in part to a grant (see case examples).


Services and systems that are for general or administrative use (e.g. telephone) cannot usually be charged to a grant. Tools and services which are required for and dedicated to a specific research project can be charged to a grant. Typically, such services or devices should be specified in the grant application budget justification. In some circumstances, tools and services that are used for more than one purpose can be charged at least in part to a grant but a review of the facts may be required to make a determination of the appropriate percentage.

ITS offers a base level of desktop support including basic services which are sufficient for most staff to get their job done. The fees for these services cannot be charged to a grant but should be paid from departmental or other institutional funds. If a scientist has a requirement that cannot be met by the basic service, it is very likely that extra level of service should be charged to a grant as it is required for the research. For example, if the scientist needs to install and manage a specific piece of software, the services and facilities required for that software could be charged to a grant if the cost can be clearly delineated. The use of virtual machines may make that easier as this technology becomes more common.

ITS services are divided into device-based and people-based services. Device-based services are support fees for machines such as desktops, phones, servers, and mobile devices. The specific utilization of the device will determine if it can be charged, all or in part, to a grant. Security scanning for servers and similar services would follow the same logic; these services can be charged to a grant to the extent that the server is dedicated to research. Consulting or programming services would likewise be charged according to the degree that they are specifically tied to research. For example, development of an data collection tool for a specific study would likely be directly charged while development of a departmental web site would not be typically charged to a grant.

People-based services include services tied to an individual such as email and eFax. These services are less likely to be charged specifically to a grant, as they are more likely used for a variety of purposes. However, some might be tied to a specific research activity. For example, if specific efax account is used for a dedicated purpose supporting a research project the fee might be justified as billable to a grant. In this instance the fee would likely be discussed in the grant application budget justification.

Support services for staff specifically funded exclusively on program project grants, even administrative activity, could potentially be charged to a grant while more general administrative staff should be supported from departmental or institutional funds.

Please note that ITS can only accept a single fund number per device or user to have services billed for. Splitting of charges across multiple funds must be handled by the client department.

Service Types

Device-based Services

e.g. Desktops, phones, servers, mobile devices, virtual machines
May be charged to grants if the device is used exclusively in research activities. If the device is used for multiple research projects or also for non-research projects it may be appropriate to distribute the cost between grant and non-grant sources. If a clear distribution cannot be clearly defined the fees should not be charged to a grant.
People-based Services

e.g. E-mail, eFax
Since these services tend to be multi-use, the costs are generally not allocable to grants. If it can be documented that some use is for research activities, at least a portion of the cost may be charged to a grant. If true, it is best to list the item in the grant application budget.
Group-based Services

e.g. Web services, file storage, hosting, security
At least a portion of the costs may be charged to grants if it can be documented that the service is related to research activities. Such fees should typically be documented in the original grant application.

Case Examples

Phones: phone usage is very difficult to tie to a specific grant. ITS bundles long distance fees in with the service and therefore grant funds cannot be used to pay for ITS Phone service.

Email: generally email would not be chargeable to a grant unless it was tied in some unique way to a research project such as a specific machine account needed for a service dedicated to a research project.

Desktop (and support): A desktop computer that is used for multiple projects and purposes should not be charged to a grant. However, if that desktop is dedicated for the purpose of a grant. The basic machine fee might be charged to departmental funds and a virtual machine that is used to meet the specific needs of the research software could be installed on top of the basic machine and charged to a grant.

Server (and support): A server could be charged to a grant if it is used to run specific software that supports the research in the grant. If the server is shared, it could potentially be billed, in part, to several grants. Such fees would typically be justified in the grant application.

File Storage: a general file server that is used for various departmental activities should not be charged to a grant. However, if the storage is used for a specific research activity, such as gene sequencing, then it could be charged to a grant. Such a fee would almost certainly be specified in the grant application budget justification.

Support and Consulting: support for general services such as email and telephones should typically not be charged to grants except possibly in special circumstances such as a program project grant. However, more advanced services such as support for servers, software, and networking might be charged to a grant if it is for technology that is specifically in support of a research project.

Mobile Devices: a mobile device that has general purpose such as a smartphone or laptop generally should not be billed to research unless the use of the device is explicitly required and committed to the support of a grant (e.g. an iPad that is used exclusively for data collection and nothing else).

Video Conferencing: A video conference facility that is used to facilitate the communication of a multi-site grant could be charged to a grant. However, if the facility is used for other purposes as well, then the fee may need to be split with a general-purpose fund according to utilization, generally specified in the grant application budget justification.

Laptops (and support): Based on federal regulations, laptops generally cannot be charged to a grant unless it is dedicated solely for the purpose of the grant and specified in the budget justification.

Development: development of shared systems such as a departmental web site should generally not be charged to a grant. However, if the site or software is for a research project or specific grant activity it could be charged to the grant. Advanced services of this kind are often best handled by specifying a percentage of one or more ITS employees in the grant application.


A flowchart is available to help determine whether or not you should use grant funds for ITS services.

Download the ITS Grant Flowchart (PDF)