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Terms and Definitions


Allocable Cost (200.405): An item of cost assigned to one or more cost objectives, in reasonable proportion to the benefit provided or other equitable relationship. The cost must have a direct benefit to and be directly associated with the project(s) being performed. A cost is allocable to a particular sponsored project, if the goods or services involved are chargeable or assignable in accordance with relative benefits received or other equitable relationship. Allocability is a basic conditions that must be met in deciding whether a particular expenditure is appropriate to a particular project. 

Allowability (200.403): The determination of whether or not costs can be charged to a sponsored project as a direct or F&A cost. Costs that are directly related to a sponsored project, must benefit the sponsored project in the proportion to the amount charged, and must conform to the policies and procedures of the institution.

Approving Authority: a person to whom authority has been delegated in writing to approve expenses for meals, light refreshments, and other amenities described within the policy. The Approving Authority cannot approve transactions reimbursing themselves, expenses of a person to whom they report, or of a spouse or family member. The exception is the approval of the Executive Director’s reimbursements, which must be approved by their supervisor.The assurance that the information is trustworthy and accurate, meaningful and usable.

Availability: A guarantee of reliable access to the information by authorized people.

Award: Umbrella term used to include sponsored grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements.  A federal award is any form of financial assistance received from a federal awarding agency directly or indirectly from a pass-through entity.

Campus: In ICSUAM Section 11000 for Sponsored Programs, campus means either the University or the Auxiliary/Foundation.

Confidentiality: Only authorized people or systems can access the protected data.

Consistency: A cost is considered to be treated consistently when the expense is treated as either a direct or F&A cost under like circumstances. Consistent treatment occurs when a cost incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances is treated consistently as either a direct or an indirect cost. Consistency is a  basic condition that determines whether an expense is appropriate to a particular project. 

Digital Signatures:  As defined by ICSUAM 8100, a digital signature is a specific type of electronic signature that uses cryptographic transformation of data to provide authenticity, message integrity, and non-repudiation. For a digital signature to be valid, it must be created by a technology accepted for use by the State of California and conform to technologies capable of creating digital signatures as set forth in California Government Code Section 16.5:

  • It is unique to the person using it;
  • It is capable of verification;
  • It is under the sole control of the person using it;
  • It is linked to data in such a manner that if the data are changed, the digital signature is invalidated;
  • It conforms to Title 2, Division 7, Chapter 10, of the California Code of Regulations.

Digital signatures use certificates that have a public and private key. Private keys used for digital signatures are considered protected Level 1 data whose unauthorized use, access, disclosure, acquisition, modification, loss, or deletion could result in severe damaged to the CSU, its students, its employees or its customers'. For the definition of the levels of data classification please review the ICSUAM standard 8065.S02-lnformation Security Data Classification.

Direct Costs: Direct costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular final cost objective, such as an award, or other internally or externally funded activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or indirect (F&A) costs.

Electronic Signatures: As defined by ICSUAM 8100, an electronic signature is an electronic sound {e.g., audio files of a person's voice), symbol {e.g., a graphic representation of a person in JPEG file), or process {e.g., a procedure that conveys assent), attached to or logically associated with a record, and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. A digitally reproduced {e.g. scanned) physical signature is a common example.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A): See Indirect (F&A) Costs

Grant: A financial contribution to a recipient to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant generally anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement of the sponsor with the recipient during performance of the project or activity.

Grant Agreement: Grant agreement means a legal instrument of financial assistance between an awarding sponsor or pass-through entity and another entity.

Indirect (F&A) Costs: Costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. To facilitate equitable distribution of indirect expenses to the cost objectives served, it may be necessary to establish a number of pools of indirect (F&A) costs.

Integrity: The assurance that the information is trustworthy and accurate, meaningful and usable.

Non-repudiation: Non-repudiation is the assurance that someone cannot deny something. Typically, non-repudiation refers to the ability to ensure that a party to a contract or a communication cannot deny the authenticity of their signature on a document or the sending of a message that they originated.

Principal Investigator: The individual (whether referred to in the contract or grant as a Principal Investigator, Project Director or other similar term) designated by the Sponsored Program Administrator to be responsible for ensuring compliance with the academic, scientific, technical, financial and administrative aspects and for day-to-day management of the Sponsored Program.

Purchase Order - A purchase order is an official contract that indicates prices, quantities, and terms & conditions to spend funds within the CSUSM Corporation guidelines or award guidelines. A requisition begins the process to create a purchase order.  

Purchase Order Amendment - A purchase order amendment is an intended change request to an existing purchase order. A Purchase Order Amendment form is required in order for the purchase order change to be executed.  

Reasonable Price - is defined as a price that does not exceed that which would be paid in the conduct of a competitive business.  It may be established by market quotes, price or cost analysis.  A reasonable price need not be the lowest price available, but is one which offers acceptable value to CSUSM Corporation and/or a sponsored project.

Reasonableness (200.404): A cost is reasonable if the nature of the goods or services acquired or applied, and the amount involved therefore, reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision to incur the cost was made. Reasonable costs that are generally recognized as necessary for the operation of a sponsored project, have an arm’s length relationship between the vendor and the principal investigator and/or institution, and are consistent with sponsor and institutional policy. Reasonableness is a  basic condition that must be met in deciding whether a particular expenditure is appropriate to a particular project.

Requisition - A requisition is a request for goods or services, with necessary documentation and approvals, for use by your department. CSUSM Corporation uses requisitions to create purchase orders. Requisitions are required to create purchase orders and are done online through the Common Financial System (CFS).  

“SMURS” Business Unit - The SMURS business unit is the CSUSM Corporation business unit. This business unit is used when referring to sponsored projects whose project number begins with 85xxx, to campus programs projects whose project number begins with 86xxx, and CSUSM Corporation administrative projects, beginning with project number 81xxx.  

Sponsor: The party/entity paying for services or other economic benefit under a contract or providing financial assistance/contribution for a project or activity under a grant.

Sponsored Agreement: A contract, grant, or other agreement from a sponsor to the campus.

Sponsored Project:  A project resulting from a grant, contract, or other agreement between the campus and a sponsor.

Unallowable Costs: Costs that are explicitly identified as unallowable or those that do not meet the conditions for allowability.

University: One of the campuses of the California State University or the Office of the Chancellor.

Unlike Circumstances: An activity or cost, which is substantially greater in amount or different in purpose than the normal use.  The term "unlike circumstance" comes from several citations in federal cost principles.  The government requires that costs incurred for the same purposes be consistently charged either as direct costs or as indirect costs.  To allow a charge normally included as indirect as a direct charge, there must be unlike circumstances.

Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200): The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) are the federal regulations for the management of federal awards.  The Uniform Guidance streamlines and supersedes guidance that was previously contained in eight different OMB Circulars (including A-21, A-110 and A-133).