See below to watch an ELearning describing this Federal Regulation Hierarchy Pyramid.

      Federal Regulation Hierarchy Pyramid

Federal Regulation Hierarchy Pyramid



This pyramid represents the order of precedence of the federal regulations for awards. The order starts from the top of the pyramid – the Federal Award itself – and flows down to the Code of Federal Regulations which is at the base of the pyramid.   Also, because the UW is a state agency, the University and State Financial Policies (known as GIMs and APS) and Washington State public laws (RCWs) also apply.

To determine the applicable regulation, review the Award first to determine if there is anything written into the Award that provides guidance or direction on the topic.  If the Award is silent, then move down level by level as needed until the information is located.

For example:

  • The department has obtained an advance budget so expenditures can be incurred prior to the start date of the Award.  The Award makes no reference to pre-Award expenditures. Uniform Guidance (at the base of the pyramid) states that sponsor approval is required for all purchases no more than 90 days prior to the start date of the Award; but sponsor specific terms and conditions state that sponsor approval is NOT required. Because the Award makes no reference to  this issue, the agency regulation would apply, as agency regulations take precedence over the Uniform Guidance.  
  • The budget period on an Award is nearing completion and will have a balance of unexpended funds remaining.  A new budget period is expected to be issued under the same Award.  The Uniform Guidance states that prior approval is required to carryforward funds from one budget period to the next. However, the agency regulations waive this requirement. Yet, written into the Award itself is the requirement that prior agency approval must be obtained to carryforward funds. Because the Award Terms take precedence over all regulations in the hierarchy, then prior approval to carryforward the funds to the next Award is required.
  • A PI is working on a federal project that requires extensive travel between states to conduct surveys. The PI will be renting a GPS along with car rentals during their research trips. The PI wants to know if this expense would be allowed under the Award. The Uniform Guidance states that if the recipient does not have its own travel reimbursement policies then the federal policies apply. If the recipient has an acceptable policy, then the recipient’s travel policy would apply.