I created detailed budget templates (in Excel) with auto-updating cells based on formulas for service center hourly rates, faculty salary, summer months, course buy-outs, fringe benefit rates, and indirect costs. The templates are based on NSF and Grants.gov budget requirements but can be easily adapted for local, state, and national agencies and organizations.
I locked down most of the spreadsheet so that the formulas cannot be accidentally altered. I also highlighted the cells in which the user should input certain information (work-months, travel, various direct costs, etc.). By inputting information into the highlighted cells, the budget basically creates itself.
How Does This Impact the University?
Principal Investigators (PIs) are able to quickly and conveniently put together a draft budget for their grant and contract proposals. Often, PIs overlook indirect costs, travel costs, the costs of fringe benefits, and other items; this leads to underbudgeting, which in turn creates problems at the proposal review stage. By using the detailed budget template, PIs can properly budget their proposals. We include the Excel file in all routings to the Office of Grants & Contracts for ease of proposal review.
The School of Public Affairs has been using the budget templates for over a year, with great success. I’ve also been asked to share the templates with other schools on the downtown campus.
Submitted by: Jen Gartner, Grants & Contracts Manager, School of Public Administration, Denver