UC San Diego SearchMenu

Fiscal Compliance: Examples of Major Projects

See examples of major projects — projects that require an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support.

Definition of major project

A major project is a sponsored project that requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support that goes beyond the routine level of such services provided by academic departments. In major projects, administrative or clerical salaries may sometimes be considered direct instead of indirect (F&A) costs.

Charging administrative and clerical costs as direct

If you are considering charging administrative or clerical expenses against federally sponsored projects that fall within the major project classification, see Charging Administrative and Clerical Costs as Direct.

OMB Uniform Guidance

OMB Uniform Guidance provides the following examples of major projects (UCSD comments are in bold):

  • Large, complex programs such as general clinical research centers, primate centers, program projects, environmental research centers, engineering research centers, and other grants and contracts that entail assembling and managing teams of investigators from many institutions
  • Projects that involve extensive data accumulation, analysis and entry, surveying, tabulation, cataloging, searching literature, and reporting (such as epidemiological studies, clinical trials, and retrospective clinical records studies)
    Examples: Projects involving substantial patient care or patient care data, including patient recruitment and billing. Extensive computer research involving multiple sites and/or complex hardware/ software procurement or management
  • Projects that require making travel and meeting arrangements for large numbers of participants, such as conferences and seminars
    Examples: Conference/ workshop grants but not routine principal investigator (PI) travel
  • Projects that focus on the preparation and production of manuals and large reports, books and monographs (excluding routine progress and technical reports)
    Examples: Curriculum development grants; projects to develop electronic reference materials
  • Projects that are geographically inaccessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as research vessels, radio astronomy projects, and other research field sites that are remote from campus
    Consideration given to projects partially or entirely performed off-campus; research conducted at field sites
  • Individual projects requiring project-specific database management; individualized graphics or manuscript preparation; human or animal protocols; and multiple project-related investigator coordination and communications
    Examples: Projects requiring administration of multiple, complex human or animal subject protocols. Single human or animal protocols with routine record-keeping requirements would not meet major project criteria.

Additional examples

  • Competitive, complex procurement (large equipment, fabrication, consultant contracts, etc.)
  • Conducting telephone surveys
  • Multiple-participant projects requiring coordination and management of consultant contracts, subcontracts and/ or budgets.
  • Programs with funding for administrative core activities, such as SCORE and those funded by NIAID
  • NIH Program Project Grants and Center Grants
  • Extensive interviewing (human subjects, data collection)
  • Managing projects with multiple sites
Note: These examples are not exhaustive and should not imply that direct charging of these expenses is always appropriate.

More information

See Charging Administrative and Clerical Costs as Direct.