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International Sponsors (Archived)

Internationally Focused Federal Agencies 
United States Department of International Development (USAID)
- Example USAID/OFDA Guidelines for Proposals and Forms links
United States Department of State (DOS) Overseas Briefing Center Information & Travel Information
United States Department of Defense (DOD)

United States Department of Commerce (DOC) Overseas Pay Information

United States Department of Energy (USDOE) Handbook on Overseas Assignments

National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science & Engineering (OISE) Program, Regional and Country Information

Budgeting Overseas Projects - The following brief descriptions of allowances and expense items are provided for reference purposes.  Please contact your OSP Proposal Team representative for more information or details.  For additional travel information, please see the following links:

  • Things to know before you travel abroad and International Studies & Programs Travelers Abroad Database
  • The U.S. Department of State website is the source for budgeting allowances for overseas projects.  These allowances should be budgeted when applicable and are intended to offset the higher costs involved in overseas projects.
    • Contact the funding agency for specific allowance budgeting guidance when applicable.
  • Translation services: GoogleTranslate to get an idea of what the document states; see State of Michigan resource document of agencies (including MSU Departments - Grad School); ask the specific agency about fees and certifications -
  • Foreign Currency Guidelines:
    • Budgets should be prepared in U.S. currency; invoices should be submitted in U.S. currency; and payments should be issued in U.S. currency.
      • The U.S. Federal government requires budgets, awards and financial reporting to be in U.S. dollars.
    • Generally, if the subrecipient submits non-U.S. currency invoices, payments will be issued in U.S. dollars or the U.S. dollar equivalent at the time of payment.  See for a foreign exchange rate converter.
    • For substantial currency fluctuations, the scope of work may need to be adjusted.
      • Project management can be impacted when there are widely varying exchange rates.  At any given point of time, the amount of funding available in non-U.S. local currency for the proposed scope of work can be more or less than what was available at the time of the proposal.  Therefore, a plan of action to minimize the programmatic impact of fluctuating exchange rates would be established before accepting an award.  Part of the plan of action should include the establishment of a written strategy for handling currency exchange fluctuations.

Instructions for the Federal Form SF-424A - if your proposal requires the completion of the SF-424A, please review the general instructions at the following link:

Cost of Living Allowance ( COLA) - provided to offset the higher overseas prices of non-housing  goods  and services. Overseas COLA is intended to equalize purchasing power so that expats can purchase the same level of goods  and services overseas as they could if they were stationed in CONUS (Continental United States).   The COLA chart provides the percentage that is applied to the "Spendable Income" amount listed in the "Spendable Income Table".  For example (DOD Calc Info and FAQ), to calculate the COLA for a MSU employee making $50,000 annually, housing three dependents and working 100% on a project in Burundi: 100% budgeted effort x 20% COLA allowance for Burundi x $27,900 "Spendable Income" amount based on the applicable annualized salary range and three dependents = $5,580 COLA allowance as of 5/4/2014.

Foreign Per Diem - The Department of State (DoS) prescribes rates for foreign overseas locations and updates these rates at the beginning of every month.

Post Differential/Hardship Differential Compensation - Hardship differential (see FAQs1 & FAQs2) is designed to provide additional compensation of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 35 percent over basic compensation to employees for overseas service where conditions of environment differ substantially from conditions of environment in the continental United States and warrant additional compensation as a recruitment and retention incentive.  This allowance is calculated as a percentage of the budgeted salary amount and usually begins on the 43rd day in the eligible country (exceptions apply to combat areas - see Section 540 of DOS Standardized Regulations).

Living Quarters Allowance - Living quarters allowance (LQA), means a quarters allowance granted to an employee for the annual cost of suitable, adequate, living quarters for the employee and his/her family.  For example, for a project being performed in Burundi you would use the "Group2" column since it's the maximum allowed amount and row "WF" if you are in the country "with family" which would equal the amount of $17,500 as of 5/4/2014.

Temporary Quarters Subsistence Allowance - Temporary quarters subsistence allowance means an allowance granted to an employee for the reasonable cost of temporary quarters, meals and laundry expenses incurred by the employee and/or family members:

a. for a period not to exceed 90 days after first arrival at a new post in a foreign area or a period ending with the occupation of residence (permanent) quarters, if earlier; or
b. for a period not to exceed 30 days immediately preceding final departure from the post subsequent to the necessary vacating of residence quarters.

Educational Allowance Rates - Link to FAQ; after the employee, or family member, has arrived at the foreign post of assignment, an application may be filed including estimates of costs of tuition, books and supplies, required fees, room and board (if applicable), and transportation for an education allowance grant on behalf of each eligible child.   For budgeting purposes, use the Educational Allowance schedule.

Danger Pay Allowance -  This allowance is designed to provide additional compensation to employees for service at places in foreign areas where dangerous conditions support the funding of additional compensation (i.e. where there exist conditions of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism or wartime conditions which threaten physical harm or imminent danger to the health or well-being of an employee - see US Department of State FAQs). These conditions do not include acts characterized chiefly as economic crime.  This allowance is calculated as a percentage of the budgeted salary amount.

Home Leave - The purpose of Home Leave allowance is to ensure that employees who live abroad for an extended period undergo reorientation and re-exposure in the United States on a regular basis.  Within the limitation of available funds, the foreign affairs agencies may grant home leave, or combined home leave and annual leave, with travel at U.S. Government expense to qualifying employees.

DBA Insurance on contract budgets - For the purpose of budgeting, use 2% of any budgeted field based/worked salary on contract budgets since DBA insurance des not apply to grants or cooperative agreements*.  DBA coverage provides benefits in the event that civilian contractors are injured, killed, or kidnapped in the course of their work for US government agencies such as the various branches of the Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Agency for International Development, (USAID), or the State Department.  See the FAQs concerning who is covered under the DBA.  Employers should secure insurance coverage for all of their employees working outside the United States under a U.S. government contract, including U.S. citizens and residents, host country nationals (local hires), and third country nationals (hired from another country to perform work in the host country) and the DBA requirement applies to any subcontractors who employ applicable employees.  Please note DBA insurance coverage is a mandatory requirement and failure to obtain DBA insurance carries stiff penalties and it may result in fines and possible loss of the applicable contract.  If you have specific coverage questions, MSU’s DBA insurance carrier is Rutherfoord at

  • *If the recipients of DOD/USAID/State Department grants or cooperative agreements award any contracts under their grants or cooperative agreements, the Defense Base Act requires those recipients' contractors and subcontractors at any tier to budget/insure their employees.

HTH Worldwide Insurance - is coverage for medical expenses, dental, accidental death and dismemberment, medical evacuation, repatriation and bedside visit and/or emergency reunion. This coverage is available for a fee to all individuals traveling internationally on an approved MSU travel voucher as follows:
•If travel is arranged through the Office of Study Abroad, participation is mandatory and provided as part of the program cost.  Please see the OSA website for additional information .
•If travel is not arranged through OSA, coverage is available through the Office of Risk Management and Insurance for both inbound and outbound (including "GeoBlue Traveler" information) international travel.  The inbound coverage can be purchased at a cost of $64.95 per month.  Refer to the inbound program brochure for specific coverage and exclusions.  The in and outbound coverage information is listed on

Vaccines/Immunizations - The CDC provides recommendations for vaccines based on the destination at the following website:  The rates for budgeting purposes can be found on MSU's Travel Clinic's website: and contact information can be found at the following link:

VISA costs - The VISA costs are specific to the destination country and the amounts to budget can be found on the specific embassy website (see link

Consultant Considerations - The Federal Government requires that the University carefully select consultants to ensure that they are well qualified, essential to the project and that such service is not available at the University.  The written evidence must be retained within the PI’s department for review and audit.  It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that the consultant’s service quote or other written cost documentation, the consultant’s resulting intellectual work or report, and all internal approvals are obtained and available for audit purposes.  See the award terms and conditions and the MSU MBP, Section 76. Departments are required to maintain records documenting the reasonableness of the cost of the service obtained, and the selection process utilized to choose the IC. In some cases, the dean or vice president may require that this documentation accompany the PSC for his/her signature.”


Budgeting Large Equipment Items Such as Trucks - Care must be taken when budgeting large equipment items such as trucks, passenger vehicles, tractors, bulldozers and other large items.  The budget should include costs such as shipping (if applicable), insurance, licenses and other fees, maintenance (e.g. oil changes, tires, drivetrain maintenance, lighting replacement, brakes replacement, incidental costs such as waterpump, alternator, clutch and brake adjustments), storage and fuel costs.  The PI should work with MSU Purchasing to obtain purchase (e.g. supplier options and purchasing requirements) and operational guidance if appropriate. The PI should also work with MSU’s Risk Management and Insurance to obtain insurance guidance if appropriate.

Most times the sponsor expects these large items to be left in the foreign country due to the difficulty and expense of return-shipping to MSU.  Most times ownership of these items will be transferred to a responsible in-country party related to the research project.

If the project is awarded, a disposition plan should be developed taking into account the expectations or contractual requirements of the sponsor.  The PI should work with MSU’s Contract and Grant Administration, MSU’s Capital Asset Management group, MSU Surplus, the receiving organization and possibly the sponsor to complete an approved disposition plan so as to properly transfer ownership.

Certification of Work-Day, Work Week and Paid Absences - (see word doc form) MSU faculty do not have a standard 8-hour per day/40-hour per week Work-Day or Work-Week. Therefore, faculty may work more or less hours each week. OMB Circular A-21 requires MSU to report faculty time on an after the fact “Level of Effort” reporting system following the completion of each semester.  The following method is used for fixed price contracts and cost plus fixed fee contracts requiring a fixed daily rate for faculty. The unburdened Work-Year for Annual Year faculty appointments is 1,832 hours (229 days) which is equivalent to: 2,080 hours or 260 days – 22  vacation days – 9 holidays = 229 days. The unburdened Work-Year for Academic Year (9 months) faculty appointments is 1,504 hours (188 days) which is equivalent to: 1,560 hours or 195 days – 7 holidays = 188 days.  The unburdened Work-Year for Annual staff appointments is 2,080 hours or 260 days. The unburdened Work-Year for Annual local staff appointments is 2,080 hours or 260 days. The hours reflected above are provided for comparison purposes only. MSU does not maintain documentation of hours worked for its faculty and staff, with the exception of undergraduate students, but rather maintains documentation to support time expended on federal projects based on percentages of effort worked. This documentation is maintained in accordance with OMB Circular 2 CFR Part 200- Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. 

Budget Note Regarding Quoting Daily or Hourly Rates - The following should be included on the budget forms: "The daily/ hourly rates reflected in MSU’s budgets are provided for comparison purposes only. MSU does not maintain documentation of hours/days worked for its faculty and staff but rather maintains documentation to support time expended on federal projects based on percentages of effort worked. This documentation is maintained in accordance with OMB Circular 2 CFR Part 200- Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards." (see OSP general budget guidelines at


Foreign Subcontractor Considerations - PI’s and Department’s Responsibilities: Does the foreign subcontractor have the necessary infrastructure in place to manage the subcontract?; How much experience does the foreign subcontractor have with research contracts?; Can you work with this subcontractor? SAM (System for Award Management):
Office of Foreign Assets Control – OFAC SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) List – US citizens and permanent residents prohibited from doing business; Are there tax restrictions associated with this partner?; Do you have someone familiar with the restrictions, laws, unique rules and challenges of that country?;Federal agencies require a NICRA in order to receive F&A (some exceptions such as NIH – 8% ); What if our international partner does not have a NICRA? (e.g. Federal projects - many sponsors do not allow an individual line item and charge expenses as direct costs if allocable and allowable; Non-Federal projects - published rate on all externally-funded projects and Letter from the CFO attesting to the rate and that it is charged to all external funding; Contract and Subcontract Hurdles -Subcontract is issued in a foreign currency or subcontractor requests that the subcontract be written in  English and the language of their country or documents written in a foreign language (e.g. translation options include MSU ISP, foreign language departments on campus, professional agencies and credentials/documentation used to support qualifications and experience in the language; all translated documents must be certified as to truth and accuracy by the translator) or subcontractor requires an advance payment to begin work.

In-Country Office - if allocable and allowable, example budget items include: in-country office director; possibly a 13th/14th month payment based on the type of employee and the applicable laws of the specific country; severance payment; in-country staff (X number of employees); space rental; telephone/fax; express mail service; photocopy (monthly); misc. office supplies including detergents); vehicle purchase (e.g. 2 @ $35,000 ea); foreign auto physical damage insurance; office computers, printers, fax machine; in-country consultants; in-country fieldwork (per diems, lodging); DBA Insurance; other Home Office expenses including communications; wire transfer fees (possibly frequent imprest account payments); express mail services for exchanging documents; photocopy expenses (usually budgeted as a monthly cost); Chief of Party expenses including shipping household goods and storage of belongings; GA tuition and fees; negotiated indirect cost rate (NICRA).

Know local labor laws - for example, 13th month payment (additional month pay is allowed by law in many developing countries if employment is for a full year); severance pay (payment when an employment contract ends, not just when someone is let go prior to their contract ending); space rental agreements - must be approved by MSU's Office of Land Management prior to signature by an authorized MSU official; Equipment - Discuss vehicle usage with Risk Management including the need for insurance fees included in budget (foreign auto physical damage insurance); in-country consultants - possibly paid thru imprest account; in-country fieldwork - per diems and lodging cannot exceed allowable rate and must follow MSU policy unless exceptions given by funder.

Past Performance Information - the sponsor may request details related to a PI's related past contract or grant performance.  The types of related contracts or grants are usually those that have been performed within the last three years that are similar or related to the proposed project.  The usual details requested include a short description, name and address of the sponsor for which the work was performed, sponsor's representative name and telephone number and e-mail address, the sponsors award ID, the amount received for each of the last three years, and beginning and ending dates or years.

  • Since tracking down the past sponsor's contact information is time intensive, when the sponsor requests past performance information the PI should work with their Department/College Research Administrator (DCRA) by searching the OSP/CGA awards database (see link) to create a list in the format specified by the sponsor.
  • After creating the list, please send a request to your CGA or OSP contact with the specific related account number (e.g. RC103604) asking for the missing award or contact information if it's not available from your departmental records.

An example of questions from one of our key sponsors:

Q. A subawardee has a substantial portion of the project. Does the project and/or the budget narrative discuss how MSU determined that the subawardee has the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, and technical skills in order to achieve the objectives of the program, as well as sufficient financial and managerial capacity to manage the sponsor's funds in accordance with applicable requirements, or whether special award conditions will be needed?
A. Talking points for the PI: Did the PI describe how MSU will assist in building the technical capacity of Subawardee?; Did the MSU PI confirm that sufficient funds have been budgeted in order to hire the needed technical staff to oversee the Subawardee; Did the MSU PI state that he would work with the Subawardee daily to complete the project?; Did the MSU PI state that they will remain in charge of or confirm the completion of the technical activities?; Did the PI complete an evaluation of the subawardee’s capabilities and, if needed, identify resources to help build the organizational capacity of Subawardee?;  Did the PI confirm that the project has budgeted the administrative staff needed to manage the postaward processes including training of the Subawardee administrative team? Did the PI clarify that the departmental administrative office will supervise the technical and administrative aspects of the in-country activity?; Did the PI reference any previous contacts with the sponsor that would indicate that the MSU department staff are experienced and that previous related contract administrative tasks where completed satisfactory?; Did the PI conduct a detailed analysis in accordance with locally established or award-specific criteria that is similar to a Non-US Organization Pre-Award Survey Guidelines and Support (NUPAS) to facilitate a responsibility determination for a sub-award to Subawardee?; Did the PI work with the sponsor to confirm that the Subawardee would be adequate for the project?; Is there any other organization that can complete the related statement of work more effectively? 

Q. As the prime recipient, MSU remains responsible for ensuring that the objectives of the program are achieved and remains responsible and accountable for the resources under the Agreement. Please describe how MSU will provide a degree of support and oversight necessary to ensure proper accountability of the funds provided to Subawardee.

A. Talking points: Did the PI discuss the process for managing the subaward (responsibilities related to the PI, department, in-country office, CGA (i.e. MSU central business office) and the subawardee office)?; Did the PI discuss the use of an Imprest fund for MSU in-country activities?; Did the PI discuss the use of a cost reimbursable contract with Subawardee?; Did the PI indicate that the Subawardee will provide documentation such as account transaction details/invoices/receipts and the invoice vetting processes completed by the related administrative departments which is tied to the MSU PI reviewed and approved of the related project activities?; Did the PI budget for training and annual site visits by CGA or another appropriate audit organization?;

Q. For any non-US recipient fiscal year in which the recipient expends a combined total of $300,000 or more in all USAID awards, either directly or through another USAID contractor or recipient, the recipient must have an annual recipient contracted audit (RCA) conducted. The regulations require that if the prime recipient provides USAID resources to other organizations to carry out the USAID-financed program and activities, the prime recipient is responsible for monitoring such subrecipients or contractors. The costs for subrecipient audits for organizations that meet the threshold of $300,000 annually are allowable. As it is expected that Subawardee will expend at least $300,000 per year under their sub-award an RCA will be required and must be budgeted for under the agreement. An estimate of about $20,000 to $30,000 would be reasonable, per year.   Is the RCA detailed in the budget?

A. Talking Points: Did the PI obtain quotes for an annual RCA? Did the PI budget between $20,000 and $30,000 per year for the RCA?

Q. The PI is considered the “Chief of Party” (i.e. one who provides leadership in the overall management of large projects or initiatives). The PI’s level of effort is only 34 months (out of a total 60 months for a 5-year life of project). While it may be obvious, please clarify that while he will be engaged on this award for the full 5 years of this project, the rest of his level of effort will be covered by another program. Can you provide more clarification and detail?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain any related or unrelated projects that are being performed at the same time?; Did the PI explain that any salary support being provided by MSU’s department and the related duties (e.g. teaching and mentoring, etc.)?; Did the PI clarify who will be the Deputy Chief of Party handling the related responsibilities while the PI is away?; Is there a management plan included in the proposal and does it address the specific administrative and programmatic responsibilities?

Q. Salaries. We note that as the proposed Chief of Party, the PI proposed daily rate is $_____ ($____ per mo / 22 days). Please clarify how these proposed rates, are in the best interest of the US Government, as this is above the current AID maximum rate of $642.31 per day. We do not think it is and we recommend that MSU consider a more reasonable rate.

A. Talking points: Did the PI indicate that $____ per day is slightly above the maximum rate noted above and that past experience with the sponsor or other related projects allowed such rates?; Did the PI indicated that the slight difference is justifiable give that there are only a handful of leading researchers in this research field?

Q. Allowances for the Chief of Party: while we understand that overseas allowances include post differential and COLA, please show how the amount of $63,031 annually” (as indicated in the “assumptions” tab of the worksheet) was calculated.

A. Talking points: Did the PI breakdown the annual amounts to monthly (i.e. the $63,031 annually works out to a monthly allowance of $5,252; composed of a housing allowance is $5,000 per month needed for the country ________, plus $252 for COLA and the Hardship allowance).

Q. For the Housing allowance, please confirm that this allowances includes the cost of utilities or is this out of pocket by the Chief of Party?

A. Talking points: Did the PI confirm if the cost of utilities is within the overseas allowance and COLA or is out-of-pocket?

Q. As the Chief of Party, a mobilization/demobilization allowance is possible. Why is there no mobilization / demobilization costs, to and from post, is included in this budget?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain why there isn’t mobilization/demobilization allowance costs budgeted?

Q. Is the Chief of Party going to take Home Leave at any point during the life of the project? If so, why is this not included in the budget?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain why there isn’t Home Leave allowance costs budgeted?

Q. Is the Chief of Party coming to post with dependents? If so, what about the associated costs for these dependents?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain why there isn’t Educational allowance costs budgeted?; Note – an indication of dependents is provided in the calculation of the COLA and Living Quarter allowance.

Q. Can you please confirm Mr. _____’s nationality; is he a ______ national (i.e. in the country where the project is being performed)? If he is a ______ national, why is he accorded with “relocation and repatriation (travel/hotel/shipping)?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain that Mr. ___ he is not from the country where the project is being performed? Did the PI explain that Mr. ____ is relocating from _______?

Q. If both Mr. _________ and Mr. ________ are considered international staff, why is there a difference in the “employee welfare” that they receive?

A. Talking points: Did the PI explain that one of the international staff will live next to his in-country extended family and requires less assistance.

Q. When an award is made, standard provision Mandatory Standard Provision 17, TRAVEL AND INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORTATION (JUNE 2012) will be incorporated. Please provide/list all the planned international travel under this USAID-funded program in the following format:

No.        Traveler              Origin/Destination         Estimated time period              Purpose of Trip


A. Format provided for reference purposes.


Category: Resources    Subcategories: OSP, Policy, Proposal, Research

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