Salaries and Wages

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Administrative and Clerical Salary Costs


Administrative and Clerical Salaries

Federal regulations state that clerical and administrative salaries should normally be treated as an indirect cost; however it may be appropriate to charge them as direct costs if certain general criteria are met. To qualify the costs must be

  • Integral to the project or activity,
  • Individuals must be specifically identified with the project or activity,
  • Explicitly included in the proposed budget or have the prior approval of the sponsoring agency,
  • Not also recovered as indirect costs.

These requirements do not apply to salaries for technical personnel, graduate students, postdoctoral associates or senior programmatic personnel.

Requesting Employee Salary Information

Additional Links:

Salary Request Form
SPOC Lists

University policy requires that an employee’s Institutional Base Salary (IBS) be used when preparing proposal budgets for external sponsors. Depending on the timing of the proposal and expected start date, salaries may be inflated for anticipated out-year increases or even entered at a higher level if a significant raise is anticipated in the first year, but the starting point is always the IBS and must be verifiable in iForms.  

One of the biggest challenges in preparing collaborative proposals lies in getting timely and accurate salary information for everyone involved. To facilitate work on collaborative proposals that include employees from other departments, the preaward offices have developed two items for your use.

1. SPOC Lists: The SPOC lists let grant managers know whom to ask for information when working with unfamiliar departments.

2. Salary Request Form  - Because salaries are confidential information, use of the form will give the department receiving it a means of verifying the legitimacy of the request. Do not upload or attach the salary document in SPS

The ultimate intent of the form, the procedure and the SPOC lists is to reduce the number of proposals that are returned to the owning organization for salary changes – with the hope that routing for approval will go more quickly and smoothly.  The more information you can provide, the better the chances of this working well.



  •  Prepares salary request forms for all non-dept personnel on the proposal
  •  Emails forms to the appropriate SPOCs


  •  SPOC receiving the email either checks each individual’s salary rate in iForms  or requests the information from the DEPT payroll person
  •  Confirms employee’s agreement to participate and the level of effort
  •  Completes the form for each employee
  •  If applicable, fills out a cost sharing form and obtains required signatures
  •  Returns the form(s) within TWO business days


  •  Enters the salaries in SPS using the IBS amounts provided
  •  Takes into account appointment type and academic year/summer effort differences if applicable
  •  Inflates and prorates in the standard format unless sponsor requirements differ
  •  Enters any required cost sharing in SPS
  •  Routes for approvals 


  •  Reviews the proposal to confirm correct IBS, appointment type(s), cost sharing and level(s) of effort
  •  If correct, approves
  •  If incorrect, returns proposal to owning department with clear explanation of the problem(s)

Salaries Above the NIH Cap

Every year since 1990 Congress has legislatively mandated a provision limiting the amount of salary that can be charged on an employee by employee basis to National Institutes of Health grants. However, the employees must still receive 100% of their IBS from Duke. This means Duke will charge the grant up to the mandated “cap” and then cost share  the difference between the cap and the IBS.

Most faculty appointments on Campus are for nine months with the exception of some Research Professors who have 12-month appointments. It is important for budgetary purposes to understand their appointment types represented in the budget or the calculations can be completely wrong. The NIH Notice linked above illustrates how to calculate salaries above the cap using various scenarios.

Calculating salaries above the cap is easily accomplished in SPS Web. There are several examples provided in the Entering Salaries into SPS document linked at the top of this page.

Preaward Roles and Responsibilities


  • Identifies salaries in the budget above the NIH cap
  • Indicates required cost sharing in SPS
  • Calculates and enters the portion to be covered by NIH in SPS
  • Calculates and enters the cost share portion to be covered by Duke in SPS
  • Completes a Cost Share form with all of the required signatures and uploads into the internal document section of the SPS proposal record


  • Reviews and approves the proposal budget as part of its review
  • Retains the cost share form in the proposal file



  • Indicates the inclusion of salaries above the cap in the budget when transmitting the award to TBS