Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 400: Expenditures
Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 12/30/2014



Please see current Fiscal Policy Manual for current policies


In general, Oregon State University (OSU) shall not provide wireless communication devices or internet services to its employees. However, for OSU faculty and classified employees with at least 0.5 FTE whose supervisors have documented, and whose Dean or Director has reviewed and approved, that they have employment responsibilities which require the use of cellular phone service, “smart phone,” other mobile communication devices, or an internet service not provided through University Information Services, OSU offers the options described below under “Need for Business Use of Communication Device(s) on a Regular Basis."  Graduate assistant employees, student employees, temporary employees, or emeritus/courtesy faculty are not eligible.

Note: Direct charge of communication device costs to grants, contracts or state-wide public service funds is very limited. Per OMB Uniform Guidance, communication access costs are considered part of the indirect cost and are not an allowable direct cost on grants and contracts; this includes federal and match state-wide funds. Therefore, any charges to research projects (sponsored, AES-funded, or FRL-funded) or other sponsored activities (sponsored or Extension-funded) must be approved in advance. A request for an unlike circumstance, such as remote location (field study), or emergency access must be made to and approved in writing by the Assistant Director of Business Affairs, Office of Post Award Administration (OPAA). The Communication Allowance is not one of the options available as a direct charge.

Need for Business Use of Communications Device(s) on a Regular Basis:

Monthly Communication Allowance.   In cases where the supervisor has determined and documented that an employee’s job duties require they have a communication device, and their Dean or Director has reviewed and agreed with the determination, the preferred option is for the employee to utilize the monthly Communication Allowance. The Communication Allowance is for use of his/her personal cellular or “smart” phone and/or internet service for the estimated percentage of monthly business-related expenses. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to review the request, documentation, and analysis of percent of business use; to obtain the Dean or Director’s approval of such; and then to forward the Communication Allowance Agreement either to the appropriate Business Center or directly (depending upon the department’s agreement with their Business Center) to OSU Central Payroll for implementation. Central Payroll should only be sent the approved & signed agreement – no supporting documentation.

The allowance amount for the summation of all devices and/or services covered can range from $20 to a maximum of $120 per month/per employee. Because of the availability for personal use, 100 percent coverage cannot be requested. The maximum amount allowed is 85% of the employee cost. Costs in a family plan that are not for the employee must not be considered in the request. The Communication Allowance is not an entitlement of any employee, does not increase the employee’s base salary, and is taxable income to the employee.  The Communication Allowance must be renewed each calendar year to continue.

University-provided pager. A unit, at their discretion, may opt to provide another communications device, such as a pager, to an employee , if it is determined that the services provided by a smart phone are not required to make contact with the employee, a smart phone is not cost effective based on need, or the employee does not qualify for the split-liability program.

Need for Short-term Business use of Communication Device(s):

While OSU generally will not provide wireless communication devices to employees, there are rare instances where this may be approved by Business Affairs and Telecommunications. Examples of these situations are: 1) requirement to conduct research projects in remote locations and the expense is pre-approved to be charged to a grant budget, 2) use for short-term off-site projects or travel when the employee does not have, and cannot obtain, their own personal cellular phone, or 3) used for emergency or disaster recovery purposes,

Employee use of OSU-provided devices is limited to official OSU business only. It is the responsibility of the unit to review the necessity for a cellular phone and also to review the charges monthly of any OSU-provided communication device to ensure no personal use has occurred. When there are violations of this restriction, in addition to disciplinary activities that will occur, the employee must reimburse OSU for that use subject to the following conditions:

  1. The reimbursement rate shall be $0.20 per minute for personal use, or the actual cost to the unit, whichever is greater.
  2. The reimbursement shall occur within thirty (30) days after the unit received its communication bill. The reimbursement will be deposited at the OSU Cashiers office using the same account code as the original cost.
  3. The reimbursement must be noted on the communication bill by the individual who receives the reimbursement. The following should be documented:
    • Itemization of calls being reimbursed
    • The amount received
    • Initials of the person receiving the reimbursement
    • The date of the reimbursement.

Internet Services

Employees requiring the internet for business-related purposes away from OSU business premises may apply for a Communication Allowance to cover these costs.  The University will not process direct payments to internet service providers (ISP) for home internet connections. Because of the availability for personal use, 100 percent coverage cannot be requested. The maximum amount allowed is 85% of the ISP invoice. If a special internet connection AT AN OSU LOCATION is required over and above that provided by OSU Information Services, the ISP vendor can be paid by OSU with justification.  Generally, this would be for service connected with transmitting data from remote instruments or internet connections at off-campus research project sites.

NOTE:  OSU Telecommunications is the only organization in the University which can authorize PaCS to extend existing cellular contracts or establish any new contracts with cellular companies or internet service providers (ISP). AES Experiment Stations, county extension offices, and remote OSU locations may require individual contracts to provide adequate business communication coverage.  Telecommunications must review and approve these and PaCS must manage the appropriate procurement method and review and sign any cellular or ISP contracts.  An approval must be on file in the appropriate Business Center to process a unit paid communications invoice.  


OSU employees who will be telecommuting should review the Telecommuting Agreement.


Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Title 26, Section 274 (d) Disallowance of certain entertainment, etc., expenses – Substantiation required

Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance 200.413 Direct Costs  and Appendix III Costs Identification and Assignment