The spending of sponsor funds has limitations. The expense must be allocable, allowable, and reasonable.
An allocable expense is one that may be easily itemized for billing purposes. The cost to travel a specified number of miles is easily itemized as the number of miles times the prevailing University mileage reimbursement rate.
An allowable expense is one that falls within the guidelines as permitted by the sponsor. A travel voucher processed on a project that provides funds for salary only would not be allowable.
A reasonable expense is one that is within the limits of rationality. The reasonable component of an expense may be related to the amount of the expense. A $1000 stapler will certainly test the limits of reasonableness without a profound explanation detailing why a $3 version is not acceptable. It may also relate to the nature of the expense. Expenses must pertain to the work of the project. The purchase of “specialty items” may be reasonable on a given project and not reasonable on another.
Expenses paid by sponsor funds must directly pertain to the work of the project, be incurred during the term of the project, be reasonable, and be able to be appropriately categorized within the final signed agreement with the sponsor.