DMSE Finance requires all requisitions, p-card transactions, travel reports, and RFPs to include a brief explanation of the benefit to the project/institute, in order to prove compliance with federal, sponsor, and MIT financial policies.
These explanations are called justifications. They demonstrate that the purchase is:
- Allocable: Does it benefit the project/have a valid business purpose?
- Allowable: Can we charge it?
- Reasonable: Does the cost make sense?
Keeping the above in mind, your justification should be a short statement that answers the questions below:
- For research: What is the specific benefit to the project?
- For non-research: What is the specific business purpose?
Here are some examples to follow:
- For equipment: "Equipment needed to cool the oven controller and operate the magnetic sensor"
- For lab supplies (including chemicals): “This LICGC glass-ceramic powder will be used to prepare ceramic composite membrane for the sponsored project”
- For materials: "Syringes needed to administer the testing solution to glass slides"
- For services: "Laundry service needed to maintain the cleanliness of the lab coats in Lab 224"
- For office supplies: "Pencils and a new monitor needed for office 301 to replace broken monitor and restock office supplies”
- For classroom use: “This purchase is a diffusant for a solar cell lab as part of the 3.004 curriculum”
...and here are some to avoid:
- “Lab supplies purchased to conduct research for Ross group”
- “Supplies for 3.091”
- “Monthly Verizon charge”
- [a completely blank justification field]
To learn more about MIT’s purchasing standards, please refer to VPF’s Buying and Paying Policies.
Justifications for meetings (421000) on research accounts
The g/l for Meetings - Food & Beverages, 421000, is not allowed on federally sponsored projects unless specified by the award.
When these purchases are allowed by the sponsor, the justification must clearly define:
- that the meeting’s primary purpose must be the dissemination of technical information beyond MIT
- that the meeting was necessary for successful performance of the award
Events like group dinners, for example, are not allowed on research and should be charged on a discretionary account, because they do not satisfy these requirements. MIT’s policy on this can also be found on the Research Administration Services’ website.