Circular No. A-87

Attachment C



A. General
B. Definitions
1. Billed central services
2. Allocated central services
3. Agency or operating agency
C. Scope of the Central Service Cost Allocation Plans
D. Submission Requirements
E. Documentation Requirements for Submitted Plans
1. General
2. Allocated central services
3. Billed services
a. General
b. Internal service funds
c. Self-insurance funds
d. Fringe benefits
4. Required certification
F. Negotiation and Approval of Central Service Plans
G. Other Policies
1. Billed central service activities
2. Working capital reserves
3. Carry-forward adjustments of allocated central service costs
4. Adjustments of billed central services
5. Records retention
6. Appeals
7. OMB assistance

A. General.

  1. Most governmental units provide certain services, such as motor pools, computer centers, purchasing, accounting, etc., to operating agencies on a centralized basis. Since federally-supported awards are performed within the individual operating agencies, there needs to be a process whereby these central service costs can be identified and assigned to benefitted activities on a reasonable and consistent basis. The central service cost allocation plan provides that process. All costs and other data used to distribute the costs included in the plan should be supported by formal accounting and other records that will support the propriety of the costs assigned to Federal awards.

  2. Guidelines and illustrations of central service cost allocation plans are provided in a brochure published by the Department of Health and Human Services entitled "A Guide for State and Local Government Agencies: Cost Principles and Procedures for Establishing Cost Allocation Plans and Indirect Cost Rates for Grants and Contracts with the Federal Government." A copy of this brochure may be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office.

B. Definitions.

  1. "Billed central services" means central services that are billed to benefitted agencies and/or programs on an individual fee-for-service or similar basis. Typical examples of billed central services include computer services, transportation services, insurance, and fringe benefits.

  2. "Allocated central services" means central services that benefit operating agencies but are not billed to the agencies on a fee-for-service or similar basis. These costs are allocated to benefitted agencies on some reasonable basis. Examples of such services might include general accounting, personnel administration, purchasing, etc.

  3. "Agency or operating agency" means an organizational unit or sub-division within a governmental unit that is responsible for the performance or administration of awards or activities of the governmental unit.

C. Scope of the Central Service Cost Allocation Plans. The central service cost allocation plan will include all central service costs that will be claimed (either as a billed or an allocated cost) under Federal awards and will be documented as described in section E. Costs of central services omitted from the plan will not be reimbursed.

D. Submission Requirements.

  1. Each State will submit a plan to the Department of Health and Human Services for each year in which it claims central service costs under Federal awards. The plan should include (a) a projection of the next year's allocated central service cost (based either on actual costs for the most recently completed year or the budget projection for the coming year), and (b) a reconciliation of actual allocated central service costs to

    the estimated costs used for either the most recently completed year or the year immediately preceding the most recently completed year.

  2. Each local government that has been designated as a "major local government" by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is also required to submit a plan to its cognizant agency annually. OMB periodically lists major local governments in the Federal Register.

  3. All other local governments claiming central service costs must develop a plan in accordance with the requirements described in this Circular and maintain the plan and related supporting documentation for audit. These local governments are not required to submit their plans for Federal approval unless they are specifically requested to do so by the cognizant agency. Where a local government only receives funds as a sub-recipient, the primary recipient will be responsible for negotiating indirect cost rates and/or monitoring the sub-recipient's plan.

  4. All central service cost allocation plans will be prepared and, when required, submitted within six months prior to the beginning of each of the governmental unit's fiscal years in which it proposes to claim central service costs. Extensions may be granted by the cognizant agency on a case-by-case basis.

E. Documentation Requirements for Submitted Plans. The documentation requirements described in this section may be modified, expanded, or reduced by the cognizant agency on a case-by-case basis. For example, the requirements may be reduced for those central services which have little or no impact on Federal awards. Conversely, if a review of a plan indicates that certain additional information is needed, and will likely be needed in future years, it may be routinely requested in future plan submissions. Items marked with an asterisk (*) should be submitted only once; subsequent plans should merely indicate any changes since the last plan.

  1. General. All proposed plans must be accompanied by the following: an organization chart sufficiently detailed to show operations including the central service activities of the State/local government whether or not they are shown as benefiting from central service functions; a copy of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (or a copy of the Executive Budget if budgeted costs are being proposed) to support the allowable costs of each central service activity included in the plan; and, a certification (see subsection 4.) that the plan was prepared in accordance with this Circular, contains only allowable costs, and was prepared in a manner that treated similar costs consistently among the various Federal awards and between Federal and non-Federal awards/activities.

  2. Allocated central services. For each allocated central service, the plan must also include the following: a brief description of the service*, an identification of the unit rendering the service and the operating agencies receiving the service, the items of expense included in the cost of the service, the method used to distribute the cost of the service to benefitted agencies, and a summary schedule showing the allocation of each service to the specific benefitted agencies. If any self-insurance funds or fringe benefits costs are treated as allocated (rather than billed) central services, documentation discussed in subsections 3.b. and c. shall also be included.

  3. Billed services.

    a. General. The information described below shall be provided for all billed central services, including internal service funds, self-insurance funds, and fringe benefit funds.

    b. Internal service funds.

    1. For each internal service fund or similar activity with an operating budget of $5 million or more, the plan shall include: a brief description of each service; a balance sheet for each fund based on individual accounts contained in the governmental unit's accounting system; a revenue/expenses statement, with revenues broken out by source, e.g., regular billings, interest earned, etc.; a listing of all non-operating transfers (as defined by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)) into and out of the fund; a description of the procedures (methodology) used to charge the costs of each service to users, including how billing rates are determined; a schedule of current rates; and, a schedule comparing total revenues (including imputed revenues) generated by the service to the allowable costs of the service, as determined under this Circular, with an explanation of how variances will be handled.

    2. Revenues shall consist of all revenues generated by the service, including unbilled and uncollected revenues. If some users were not billed for the services (or were not billed at the full rate for that class of users), a schedule showing the full imputed revenues associated with these users shall be provided. Expenses shall be broken out by object cost categories (e.g., salaries, supplies, etc.).

    c. Self-insurance funds. For each self-insurance fund, the plan shall include: the fund balance sheet; a statement of revenue and expenses including a summary of billings and claims paid by agency; a listing of all non-operating transfers into and out of the fund; the type(s) of risk(s) covered by the fund (e.g., automobile liability, workers' compensation, etc.); an explanation of how the level of fund contributions are determined, including a copy of the current actuarial report (with the actuarial assumptions used) if the contributions are determined on an actuarial basis; and, a description of the procedures used to charge or allocate fund contributions to benefitted activities. Reserve levels in excess of claims (1) submitted and adjudicated but not paid, (2) submitted but not adjudicated, and (3) incurred but not submitted must be identified and explained.

    d. Fringe benefits. For fringe benefit costs, the plan shall include: a listing of fringe benefits provided to covered employees, and the overall annual cost of each type of benefit; current fringe benefit policies*; and procedures used to charge or allocate the costs of the benefits to benefitted activities. In addition, for pension and post-retirement health insurance plans, the following information shall be provided: the governmental unit's funding policies, e.g., legislative bills, trust agreements, or State-mandated contribution rules, if different from actuarially determined rates; the pension plan's costs accrued for the year; the amount funded, and date(s) of funding; a copy of the current actuarial report (including the actuarial assumptions); the plan trustee's report; and, a schedule from the activity showing the value of the interest cost associated with late funding.

  4. Required certification. Each central service cost allocation plan will be accompanied by a certification in the following form:


    This is to certify that I have reviewed the cost allocation plan submitted herewith and to the best of my knowledge and belief:

    1. All costs included in this proposal [identify date] to establish cost allocations or billings for [identify period covered by plan] are allowable in accordance with the requirements of OMB Circular A-87, "Cost Principles for State and Local Governments," and the Federal award(s) to which they apply. Unallowable costs have been adjusted for in allocating costs as indicated in the cost allocation plan.

    2. All costs included in this proposal are properly allocable to Federal awards on the basis of a beneficial or causal relationship between the expenses incurred and the awards to which they are allocated in accordance with applicable requirements. Further, the same costs that have been treated as indirect costs have not been claimed as direct costs. Similar types of costs have been accounted for consistently.

      I declare that the foregoing is true and correct.

      Governmental Unit: ________________________

      Signature: ________________________

      Name of Official: ________________________

      Title: _________________________

      Date of Execution: _________________________

F. Negotiation and Approval of Central Service Plans.

  1. All proposed central service cost allocation plans that are required to be submitted will be reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the Federal cognizant agency on a timely basis. The cognizant agency will review the proposal within six months of receipt of the proposal and either negotiate/approve the proposal or advise the governmental unit of the additional documentation needed to support/evaluate the proposed plan or the changes required to make the proposal acceptable. Once an agreement with the governmental unit has been reached, the agreement will be accepted and used by all Federal agencies, unless prohibited or limited by statute. Where a Federal funding agency has reason to believe that special operating factors affecting its awards necessitate special consideration, the funding agency will, prior to the time the plans are negotiated, notify the cognizant agency.

  2. The results of each negotiation shall be formalized in a written agreement between the cognizant agency and the governmental unit. This agreement will be subject to re-opening if the agreement is subsequently found to violate a statute or the information upon which the plan was negotiated is later found to be materially incomplete or inaccurate. The results of the negotiation shall be made available to all Federal agencies for their use.

  3. Negotiated cost allocation plans based on a proposal later found to have included costs that: (a) are unallowable (i) as specified by law or regulation, (ii) as identified in Attachment B of this Circular, or (iii) by the terms and conditions of Federal awards, or (b) are unallowable because they are clearly not allocable to Federal awards, shall be adjusted, or a refund shall be made at the option of the Federal cognizant agency. These adjustments or refunds are designed to correct the plans and do not constitute a reopening of the negotiation.

G. Other Policies.

  1. Billed central service activities. Each billed central service activity must separately account for all revenues (including imputed revenues) generated by the service, expenses incurred to furnish the service, and profit/loss.

  2. Working capital reserves. Internal service funds are dependent upon a reasonable level of working capital reserve to operate from one billing cycle to the next. Charges by an internal service activity to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a reasonable level of working capital reserve, in addition to the full recovery of costs, are allowable. A working capital reserve as part of retained earnings of up to 60 days cash expenses for normal operating purposes is considered reasonable. A working capital reserve exceeding 60 days may be approved by the cognizant Federal agency in exceptional cases.

  3. Carry-forward adjustments of allocated central service costs. Allocated central service costs are usually negotiated and approved for a future fiscal year on a "fixed with carry-forward" basis. Under this procedure, the fixed amounts for the future year covered by agreement are not subject to adjustment for that year. However, when the actual costs of the year involved become known, the differences between the fixed amounts previously approved and the actual costs will be carried forward and used as an adjustment to the fixed amounts established for a later year. This "carry-forward" procedure applies to all central services whose costs were fixed in the approved plan. However, a carry-forward adjustment is not permitted, for a central service activity that was not included in the approved plan, or for unallowable costs that must be reimbursed immediately.

  4. Adjustments of billed central services. Billing rates used to charge Federal awards shall be based on the estimated costs of providing the services, including an estimate of the allocable central service costs. A comparison of the revenue generated by each billed service (including total revenues whether or not billed or collected) to the actual allowable costs of the service will be made at least annually, and an adjustment will be made for the difference between the revenue and the allowable costs. These adjustments will be made through one of the following adjustment methods: (a) a cash refund to the Federal Government for the Federal share of the adjustment, (b) credits to the amounts charged to the individual programs, (c) adjustments to future billing rates, or (d) adjustments to allocated central service costs. Adjustments to allocated central services will not be permitted where the total amount of the adjustment for a particular service (Federal share and non-Federal) share exceeds $500,000.

  5. Records retention. All central service cost allocation plans and related documentation used as a basis for claiming costs under Federal awards must be retained for audit in accordance with the records retention requirements contained in the Common Rule.

  6. Appeals. If a dispute arises in the negotiation of a plan between the cognizant agency and the governmental unit, the dispute shall be resolved in accordance with the appeals procedures of the cognizant agency.

  7. OMB assistance. To the extent that problems are encountered among the Federal agencies and/or governmental units in connection with the negotiation and approval process, OMB will lend assistance, as required, to resolve such problems in a timely manner.

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