Budgeting on Project Zero

Effective February 1, 2015, the Vice President for Research (VPR) approved the following guideline which describes how to budget personnel on the annual operating budget for which the source of funding may not be identified at the time of the initial budget action. It applies to any Texas A&M University (Parts 02 TAMU and 10 TAMUG) department or division that has sponsored project activity.

Project Zero is a restricted, non-paying, encumbrance account that provides a placeholder for budgeting estimated income for future payroll commitments.

This guideline allows for appropriate designation of employees in the operating budget for purposes of benefits and employee classification.


Project Zero allows Employee Payroll Actions (EPA’s) to be processed for the full 9 month or 12 month appointment of an individual within a fiscal year to assure the appropriate benefits are provided for the appointment.

Other benefits of a Project Zero account include the following:

  • Allows for budgeting estimated income from sponsored projects at the institutional level resulting in a more accurate budget.
  • Allows for encumbrance of salary commitments on sponsored projects not yet awarded to prevent inappropriate charges being encumbered on existing sponsored projects. 

For example, if the sponsored project budget year is May 1, 2013 – April 30, 2014, the employees’ FY 2014 EPA will reflect effort for the period of 9/1/13 – 4/30/14 on the sponsored project and effort for the period of 5/1/14-8/31/14 to the departments Project Zero account.


  1. Each Project Zero account will be designated by department/college/center/institute at the support account level (to allow account control by designee). For example, Project Zero account 400000-00001 has been designated for Department X and account 400000-00002 has been designated for Institute Y.
    1. Upon request to the Director of Time and Effort Compliance, a project zero account will be established in FAMIS.
  2. Project Zero can be utilized during the annual budget process as a tool for budgeting estimated income on sponsored projects. In order to budget using Project Zero, a good estimate of sponsored research funding that will be generated for salary support throughout the year should be made during the annual operating budget cycle. The account number utilized during the budget process for estimated income is determined by the department.
    1. Project Zero (400000-xxxxx) – Projects and/or anticipated future projects awarded to Texas A&M.
    2. TAMRF BPP (455124-00000) – Projects and/or anticipated future projects awarded to The Texas A&M Research Foundation.
  3. Project Zero is a restricted non-paying account and will not feed to accounting. 
  4. Project Zero is an ENCUMBRANCE ONLY account, expenditures are not allowed.
  5. Project Zero is NOT A CLEARING ACCOUNT. Payroll should not expense to Project Zero. A new EPA iteration must be processed prior to the BVD due date, allocating the current month payroll to the proper account. See Texas A&M Payroll BVD schedule: http://payroll.tamu.edu/payroll-processing/calendar/. 


  1. The Departmental Business Administrator is responsible for monitoring and managing the account monthly to assure that no payroll expenses are charged to the Project Zero account.
  2. The Departmental Business Administrator is responsible for processing EPA’s for current month encumbrances prior to the BVD report due date.
  3. Should a department not adhere to guidelines put forth by this standard administrative procedure, the Project Zero account may be terminated.

Please contact

Karan Watkins, Director
Division of Research
Texas A&M University