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Best practices: Entertainment Costs

Per OMB Circular A-21 guideline J.17, entertainment costs cannot be assessed to federally sponsored projects. “Costs of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities) are unallowable.”What is entertainment? Events such as picnics, tailgate events, and lab parties are considered entertainment and are not allowed on sponsored projects. Costs for a group or individual to perform at such events are also unallowable. Taking students and visitors out for a meal with no meeting or research purpose is also considered entertainment and thus would be an unallowable cost.

During travel status it is also unallowable to claim charges for movies, ballgames, musicals, plays, etc. These events are considered to be on personal time (even if during travel status) and should not be claimed as a travel expense either as a direct expense or under the per diem cost.

Questions about entertainment costs or allowability of such costs, please contact Sandy Fowler in CALS Research Division at sfowler@cals.wisc.edu 2-3947.

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