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Speaking Out

Child Care during Conference

My husband and I will soon attend the largest annual economics conference, being held this year in Philadelphia. On one day of the conference, he will be interviewing candidates for economics faculty positions, and at the same time I will be presenting research at a session. As it happens to be a weekend day and schools are closed, we will engage the services of the on-site child care run by Kiddie Corp.; the economics associations running the conference arrange these services precisely for professional couples like us with young children. However, my husband and I were told by Penn that we cannot use our research accounts to cover our conference child-care expenses “they are not...business expenses.” The logic of this escapes us, particularly after the recent discussion at Penn about accommodating families and encouraging female faculty. On the other hand, it is amusing to find that a bunch of economists are more feminist than the rest of the academia.

—Rebecca Stein, senior lecturer,
Economics Department

Response based on Policies

Unfortunately, baby-sitting fees, while they may be necessary  in order to attend this conference, are considered to be a personal expense, similar to clothing or toiletry items, and are not reimbursable by the University. Financial Policy #2362, Travel and Entertainment, Non-Reimbursable, specifically states that travelers will not be reimbursed for baby-sitting services.

In addition to the constraints on reimbursable expenses, in the case of federal grants or external funding, it is the responsibility of the University to ensure that funds provided from external sources to support research and other projects are administered in accordance with University policies, as well as those of the sponsor, and that charges made to these awards are appropriate. Sponsors who entrust the University with the stewardship of these monies rely on the University to have policies and procedures in place to safeguard these funds. 

The factors for assessing appropriateness are allowability, allocability, and reasonableness as explained below:

• Allowability. The expense must be permitted by the sponsor and in accordance with University policy.

• Allocability. The cost can easily be identified with the project and assigned to the project in accordance with benefits received.

• Reasonableness. The cost must be necessary for the performance of the award and reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken.

These basic principles are contained in the Sponsored Project Financial Policies #2110 Federal Direct Cost Expenditures and #2138 Direct Cost Expenditures for Non-Federal Organizations. 

—Andrew B. Rudczynski,
Associate Vice President, Finance
Executive Director, Research Services

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday’s issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. —Eds.

 

 



 
  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 17, January 18, 2005

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
January 18, 2005
Volume 51 Number 17
www.upenn.edu/almanac

 

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