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What is an inflated/padded budget proposal?

An inflated or padded budget occurs when the proposed budget submitted for a research project, whether intentional or unintentional, is significantly higher than calculated estimates.

Budget proposals may be inflated for various reasons:

  • Researchers would like to have additional funds available to cover unexpected costs
  • Researches want to increase the appearance of the project’s significance
  • Some just want more money
  • Unintentional miscalculations

Unintentional inflated or padded budgets do occur, but when identified and corrected may not incur any further actions. It is acceptable for estimates to include increases to account for projected inflation in the proposal. However, please be mindful of what factor(s) you use when projecting for inflation.

If a review concludes the padded budget was intentional, repercussions could include loss of funding for the project, loss of funding for future projects from the sponsor and/or legal action from the sponsor.

If you have concerns or questions when developing the budget for a proposal, contact your college/department Research Administration office for guidance.

Updated on June 29, 2022

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