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    Organization Burden

    Publication date:


    Effective date:



    Policy Summary

    This policy guides the management and administration of Berkeley Lab organization burdens, which represent costs for the general management and administration of the Laboratory's scientific and support divisions or departments.

    Who Should Read This Policy

    All Laboratory employees who manage organization burdens

    To Read the Full Policy, Go To:

    The POLICY tab on this wiki page

    Contact Information

    Indirect Budget Manager


    Organization Burden

    Publication date:


    Effective date:



    A. Purpose

    This policy guides the management and administration of organization burdens which represent costs for the general management and administration of the scientific and support divisions or departments at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

    B. Persons Affected

    All Laboratory employees who manage organization burdens

    C. Exceptions


    D. Policy Statement

    1. General

    Laboratory organization burden costs represent the costs of overall management and administration of the scientific and support divisions or departments. Organizational burdens will be:

      1. Appropriately budgeted and accounted for on a consistent basis.
      2. Accumulated in standardized indirect cost pools (organization burden projects).
      3. Allocated in an equitable and reasonable manner to the benefiting cost objectives (projects).

    1. Cost Pool Expense
      1. Organization burden costs include activities related to the management, supervision, and administration of the division/department.
      2. Organization burden cost pools shall not include research and development (R&D) activities.
      3. The cost pool shall not include expenses which are unallowable per the FAR or the terms of Contract 31.
      4. The organization burden cost pools may include the following cost elements:
        1. Labor Expenses
          1. Division/Department Deputy. Wage expense of division/department deputy and/or assistant division directors.
          2. Division/Department Office Staff. Wage expense of division administrators, division and/or department office management personnel, and secretarial and clerical support.
          3. Division/Department Support. Wage expense of staff whose appointment or assignment is of a division-wide nature and that clearly and specifically supports the division director's responsibilities. This may include operations managers and other professional staff such as business managers, safety coordinators, resource analysts, and Human Resources partners who support the overall division. It may also include activities such as preparing an annual division research report or reviewing work task proposals. Assignments that benefit specific projects are excluded.
          4. Staff Between Assignments. Wage expense of employees between assignments.
        2. Other Expenses
          1. Division/Department Office Operating Costs. Charges for telephone, printing, copying, travel, vehicles, noncapital equipment purchases, equipment rental/maintenance, computing, other supplies and expense items, divisional seminars, and electricity expenses related to the division/department office. Other operating costs may be included as appropriate.
          2. Building Expenses, Alterations, and Moving Expenses. Costs of building managers, building supplies and equipment, general-use equipment repairs, noncapital space alterations, and division-initiated moves.
          3. Research Project Termination. Support for project termination expenses is intended to allow reasonable accommodation to unanticipated or sudden minor changes in division research activities due to a specific project termination. It does not provide for termination of a major research program or a subprogram, which should be directly funded by the program.
          4. Equipment. Costs for equipment include the purchase, fabrication, lease, and maintenance of equipment that broadly supports division activities. Such equipment must meet the following criteria:
            • The users/beneficiaries of the equipment are included in the division's organization burden distribution base. The equipment is used to support division multi-programmatic and/or interdisciplinary functions where the predominant use is not directly identified with a specific project. In addition, equipment does not apply to institution-wide users/beneficiaries.
            • Capital equipment may be charged to organization burden if it meets the requirement above and the following requirements:
              1. Capital equipment criteria (see Definitions/Acronyms, below).
              2. Users/beneficiaries are within the division's organization burden base.
              3. Users/beneficiaries include multiple sponsors and/or projects within the organization burden base.
            • Must meet and follow Berkeley Lab's Property, Plant, and Equipment Policy.
    2. Distribution Base

    The distribution base for organization burden costs includes organizational wage expenses (labor and payroll burden) and contract labor.

      1. The following are excluded from the distribution base for organization burden costs:
        1. Organization burden labor charged to the cost pool.
        2. Costs of all consultants and the wage expense of employees matrixed from other organizations.
        3. Fellowship and career-development Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP) Award projects and Work-Study students.
        4. Multiple location assignments (MLAs), inter-jurisdictional employee exchanges (IJEs), intergovernmental personnel appointments (IPAs), and DOE detailee projects.

    4. Rate Execution and Monitoring

    Organization burden costs are allocated using pre-established rates. The rates are based on forecasted costs for the applicable cost accounting period (i.e, the Laboratory's fiscal year).

      1. Preliminary organization burden rates are developed on a break-even basis. The objective is to establish a rate that will recover the total of costs in the cost pool at fiscal year-end. If a material variance exists between cost and recovery at fiscal year-end, the division will revise the rate and/or budget to appropriately allocate the variance.
      2. Organization burden rate forecasts, and the establishment and revision of predetermined rates for the applicable cost accounting period(s), are prepared by the divisions and coordinated and executed through the Budget Office.

    E. Roles and Responsibilities

    Managers, supervisors, and employees have the responsibility to adhere to the provisions of this policy.



    Division Leadership

    • Leads the formulation and coordination of the organization expense pool and allocation base in accordance with the above policy.
    • Executes the organization expense-rate forecasts and establishes the predetermined rate for the applicable cost accounting period(s).
    • Coordinates revisions to the pre-established organization budget and rate with the Budget Office.

    Division Director

    • Signs off on submissions (to the Budget Office) of proposed budget and rate changes.

    Budget Office

    • Reviews and approves proposed budget and rate, with input from Senior Management when appropriate.
    • Communicates approved organization budgets and rates.
    • Submits the forward pricing rates to the appropriate DOE office for approval.
    • Identifies cost accounting practice changes, makes appropriate Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) Disclosure Statement revisions, and submits changes to the appropriate DOE office for approval.

    F. Definitions/Acronyms




    To assign an item of cost, or a group of items of cost, to one or more cost objectives. This term includes both direct assignment of cost and the reassignment of a share from an indirect cost pool.

    Capital Equipment

    Movable personal property with an anticipated service life of two years or more and a cost of $500,000 or more, which substantially retains its original characteristics. Capital equipment does not include application software, maintenance, repair, warranties, real property improvements, or related personal property.

    Cost Objective

    A function, organizational subdivision, program, or other work unit for which cost data are desired and for which provision is made to accumulate and measure the cost of processes, products, jobs, projects, etc.

    Final Cost Objective

    A cost objective to which is allocated both direct and indirect costs and which is one of the final accumulation points

    Indirect Cost

    Any cost identified with two or more joint final cost objectives that cannot be identified specifically with a particular activity or project

    Indirect Cost Pool

    A grouping of incurred costs identified with two or more cost objectives, but not identified specifically with any final cost objective

    Wage Expense

    Salary multiplied by Paid Leave Factor multiplied by one plus the Payroll Burden Rate {Salary x Paid Leave Factor x (1 + Payroll Burden Rate)}

    G. Recordkeeping Requirements


    H. Implementing Documents

    I. Contact Information

    Indirect Budget Manager

    J. Revision History



    By whom

    Revision Description

    Section(s) affected

    Change Type



    C. Lundell

    Reformat for wiki





    B. Smith

    Update Exclusions in Distribution Base and Capital Equipment Definition

    Policy Statement, Definitions




    L. Freeman

    Review completed 5/15/2013, no changes

    Publ & Next review date




    L. Freeman

    Policy clarifications; edits for consistency; add detailed R&Rs



    3/2/2020 2 L.Freeman Periodic review - no changes All Editorial



    Organization Burden

    Document number

    Revision number


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    Effective date:


    Next review date:


    Policy Area:


    RPM Section (home)

    Financial Management

    RPM Section (cross-reference)

    Functional Division


    Prior reference information (optional)

    Source Requirements Documents

    Implementing Documents

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