The conference registration fee may only be allowable if the reason for the cancellation met the criteria for “reasonable” as part of the four cost principles. Criteria to use for “reasonable” would include that the PI could not travel due to circumstances beyond his or her control (e.g., sudden illness, death of a family member) and that every attempt was made to obtain a full or partial refund from the conference organizers. The department needs to ensure that such refunds and expenses are treated consistently on sponsored awards as well as non-sponsored funding sources.
For airfare, if the sponsored award was not federal, then the same reasonable principles as listed above would apply. If the sponsored award was federal then federal regulations require that the airfare ticket purchased be refundable and thus, the ticket can be refunded in the event of a cancellation. If there is an associated refund or cancellation fee, that amount would be allowable. If a non-refundable ticket was purchased, then the cost of the ticket would not be an allowable expense as federal regulations require that refundable tickets be purchased. Click here for more information on airfare purchases on federal awards.