Eligibility of Membership Dues - Planning Funds

Printer Friendly Number 2002-09

PROGRAM AREA: Accounting

Questions have been raised regarding the use of FTA metropolitan planning funds and FHWA planning and research funds for membership dues in professional associations or other organizations.

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance on the use of FHWA and FTA State planning and research and metropolitan planning funds for membership dues in professional associations or other organizations.

This responds to several recent questions from field offices, State DOTs, and MPOs. The guidance below is based on the guidelines in the following OMB Circulars: A-87, Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments; A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions; and A-122, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations.

A basic guideline in these OMB circulars is that for a cost to be allowable, as either a direct or indirect cost, it must be necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient performance of the Federally funded program and must be assignable to the Federal program and other activities in accordance with the benefits received by those activities. In essence, a cost can be billed to a Federal award based on the relative benefits to the work being performed with the Federal funds versus other benefiting activities.

For organizations such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), which are multipurpose organizations that provide benefits to their members for more than just transportation planning, the membership dues need to be treated as an indirect cost or the dues must be allocated to all benefiting activities of the member agency on an equitable basis that considers the relative benefits to the federally funded transportation planning work.

In the case of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), which is an organization that specifically serves the MPOs responsible for carrying out the metropolitan planning process required by title 23 U.S.C. and Chapter 53 of title 49, U.S.C., the eligible portion of the dues may be billed directly to FHWA/FTA funds if similar costs are billed directly to other benefiting activities. Similarly, NARC Transportation Supplemental Services membership fees may be billed as a direct cost.

Memberships in any organization or professional association must be in the name of the member agency and not in the name of an individual in order to be allowable. In addition, Memberships in any organization or professional association must be in the name of the in all cases the portion of the organization's dues that is used for lobbying is unallowable and cannot be billed to Federal funds as either an indirect or direct cost. In the case of non-profit organizations such as AASHTO, NARC, APTA, and AMPO, those activities that are considered to be lobbying and unallowable are identified in OMB Circular A-122, Attachment B, paragraph 25 (copy attached). If these organizations do not notify their members of the portion of the dues that are for lobbying activities, the State DOT or MPO should request such information from the organization.

Attached please find a copy of FTA and FHWA guidance on the mater and associated guidance from OMB Circular A-122, Attachment B.

If you have any questions regarding these issues, please contact Bill Fort (206) 220-4461 or Pat Hendrix (206) 220-4465 of the FTA Region 10 staff.


R. F. Krochalis
Regional Administrator