What Are Cost Accounting Standards?

Cost Accounting Standards: The Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) set forth broad policies governing sponsored project financial administration. The Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) 48 CFR 9905.501, 9905.502, 9905.505, and 9905.506 were included in the revised cost principles of the Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 at Part 200.419.


Cost Accounting Standard 9905.501 requires consistency in estimating, accumulating and reporting costs.

Cost Accounting Standard 9905.502 requires consistency in allocating costs incurred for the same purpose.

Cost Accounting Standard 9905.505 requires proper treatment of unallowable costs.

Cost Accounting Standard 9905.506 requires consistency in the accounting periods used for cost accounting.

Cost Accounting Standard (CAS) 9905.502 states “All costs incurred for the same purpose, in like circumstances, are either direct costs only (can be charged to a grant) or indirect costs only (must be paid with unrestricted funds) with respect to final cost objectives.” Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 then goes on to list specific costs that the federal government considers to be normally charged indirectly, “Items such as salaries of administrative and clerical staff, office supplies, postage, local telephone costs and memberships”.

The Uniform Guidance does allow for exemptions where cost items normally treated as indirect (F&A) costs may be charged directly if certain conditions are met. To receive a CAS Exemption you will need to complete a CAS Exemption Form and submit to the Division of Sponsored Programs for final determination.