Preparing the budget: direct cost line items


  • Any Duke employee who will be contributing to the completion of the project, including senior personnel, post docs, students, tech support, etc.

Institutional Base Salary (IBS)

  • Base pay that an employee of Duke University earns, excluding supplemental pay.

Salaries and Wages 

  • Senior / Key personnel must have measurable effort
  • Non-Key personnel includes research assistants, technicians, post docs, analysts, etc.
  • To Be Named / To Be Hired are NOT Key personnel
  • Faculty appointments may be either 12 months or 9 months and will affect their effort calculation
  • PHS agencies follow the Federal Executive Level II salary cap

Effort Calculations 

  • Effort is a reflection of the time a person will spend working on the project
  • May be in person months
  • Personnel salary requested is based on estimated effort

12 Month Appointment

  • Institutional Base Salary = $100,000
  • Effort = 3 months
  • $100,000 ÷ 12 months = $8,333 per month
  • $8,333 x 3 months = $24,999

 9 Month Appointment

  • Institutional Base Salary = $100,000
  • Effort = 3 months
  • $100,000 ÷ 9 months = $11,111 per month
  • $11,111 x 3 months = $33,333

Fringe Benefits 

  • A fringe benefit rate that is negotiated and agreed upon by Duke's cognizant agency (Department of Health and Human Services) is used to calculate fringe benefits that are included in the application budget for each of the project personnel.
  • Rate is different for Federally funded versus non-Federally funded projects.
  • Different rate applies to faculty/monthly staff, house staff, hourly staff, students, and PhD students.
  • Rate applied changes each fiscal year.


An article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more.

  • General purpose equipment (not limited to use for research, medical, scientific or other technical activities) is not allowable as a direct cost.
  • Excluded from the F&A base when calculating F&A (indirect cost).
  • Must have documentation that equipment is necessary for completion of project and not readily available.


  • Must be directly related to the project.
  • Only personnel on the project can have travel supported by project.
  • Travel to meet with collaborators is allowable.
  • Travel to present findings / outcome is allowable.
  • Must follow Duke University Travel Related Policies.


  • Appropriate for non-Duke employees - Duke employees MAY NOT BE consultants (role for Duke employees can be collaborator)
  • Should be an expert in the field
  • If a commercial entity, it should be in the business of conducting this type of service
  • Apply IRS standard for independent contractor checklist (ICC) to determine if consultant or subrecipient


  • Must be necessary for completion of project and consistent with research plan
  • Start with most expensive
  • Group supplies into categories
  • General office supplies are not allowable

See Gap 200.330 and 200.340 for further detail regarding disallowance of office supplies on Federal projects.

Non-supply costs Other Direct Costs 

  • Subject costs (payment, meals, parking)
  • Service center fees
  • Vendor services
  • Animal care / per diems (follow current rate guidelines)
  • Do not include unallowable or indirect costs
  • Check sponsor guidelines; sponsors may have different guidelines in FOA for other direct costs


  • Subrecipients have the same requirements to Duke as Duke has to the sponsor
  • Duke must incorporate subaward / subcontract into prime application
  • Each subrecipient must provide the following for an application: 
    • Budget
    • Budget Justification
    • Scope of Work
    • Document signed by subrecipient's authorized institutional official (PHS 398 Face Page, or LOI)
  • Subrecipient may include their institution's approved F&A rate in their budget (follow guidelines for how F&A rate is applied)
  • All budget restrictions flow-down to the subrecipient's budget

Participant Support Costs 

  • Based on the expected number of participants in the project
  • Some opportunities are for participant support costs only (these are typically NSF funded)

Patient Costs 

  • Costs that patient would normally incur for treatment, tests, or other procedures but are being paid for by the project
  • Based on the expected number of patients participating in the project