DFAS Frequently Asked Questions


1. What are allowable costs?

Allowable costs are those costs that are reasonable, allocable, consistently applied and not specifically prohibited by Federal Acquisition Regulation e.g., FAR 31.205 or the cost principles e.g., OMB Cost Circulars.

2. What accounting system should an organization use?

The accounting system should be a project/job cost accounting system that not only segregates costs by project but also between direct and indirect costs. There are a number of commercial software systems that can be purchased off-the-shelf, but the particular needs of an organization should be discussed with an independent CPA or with a local computer store prior to making any purchase. Click here for a Sample Chart of Accounts.

3. Does time and effort reporting apply to subrecipients? If so, are the applicable requirements based on the prime or subrecipients type of organization?

Yes, time and effort reporting is applicable to subrecipients. The requirements are based on the subrecipients type of organization.

4. Which cost principles apply to universities? Non profit organizations? Hospitals? Commercial (for-profit) organizations? State and Local Governments?

Universities - OMB Circular A-21; Non-Profit Organizations - OMB Circular A-122; Hospitals - 45 CFR Part 74, Appendix E;

State and Local Governments - OMB Circular A-87; Commercial (for-profit) Organizations - FAR Part 31;

5. What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

A grant is an assistance mechanism, and a contract is a mechanism for acquiring services, supplies or research for the direct benefit and use of the government.
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Director: Hruta Virkar

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