CSBG IM#37 Definition and Allowability of Direct and Administrative Cost Block Appropriation and Allocations
- For CSBG program reporting requirements, the HHS Office of Community Services (OCS) defines "direct" program and "administrative" costs in accordance with three criteria: (i) meeting Congressional intent for the program; (ii) achieving consistency with HHS audit and financial management standards; and (iii) ensuring a common basis for relating expenditures to the CSBG Results Oriented Management and Accountability System (ROMA).
- "Direct" program costs can be specifically identified with delivery of a particular project, service, or activity undertaken by a grantee to achieve an outcome intended by the funding program. For CSBG, such direct costs derive from the funding objectives specified in the reauthorizing statute, and from the goals and outcome measures in the ROMA system required by that statute. Direct program costs are incurred for the service delivery and management components within a particular program or project. Therefore, direct program costs include expenditures on some activities with administrative qualities, including salaries and benefits of program staff and managers, equipment, training, conferences, travel, and contracts that expressly relate to the delivery of an individual program or service funded by a specific grant source.
- "Administrative" costs, in the context of CSBG statutory reporting requirements, are equivalent to the familiar concepts of "indirect" costs or "overhead." As distinguished from program administration or management expenditures that qualify as direct program costs, administrative costs refer to central executive functions that do not directly support a specific project or service. Rather, administrative costs are incurred for common objectives that benefit multiple programs administered by the grantee organization, or the organization as a whole, and as such are not readily assignable to a particular program funding stream. Administrative costs relate to the general management of the grantee organization, such as strategic direction, Board development, Executive Director functions, accounting, budgeting, personnel, procurement, and legal services.
- Under the CSBG reauthorization and national ROMA goals, eligible programmatic activities explicitly include efforts to coordinate and strengthen a range of local programs and services that combat poverty. These efforts often entail planning and management functions that facilitate integrated approaches among more categorical public, private, and non-profit entities within a community. They also provide additional resources to enhance or supplement the activities of programs that receive other Federal, State, local, and private funding. OCS considers such functions to constitute a core CSBG program purpose, significant and necessary to the grantee mission, pursuant to Congressional intent. Use of CSBG funds to augment and coordinate other programs is an allowable cost. Furthermore, although some of these functions have administrative qualities, related expenditures that can be specifically identified with a programmatic activity to coordinate and strengthen other programs and services should be categorized as direct program costs, because they achieve an outcome intended by the Congress in the express language of the CSBG reauthorizing statute.