The federal regulation of research has become excessively burdensome, argue staff members from AAU and COGR in an article in Issues in Science and Technology. Increasing regulatory and reporting requirements should be replaced by new and more timely and flexible mechanisms for universities and associations to work with federal officials.
An AAU, APLU, and COGR report submitted to the National Research Council panel that is studying the future of the research university which lays out recommendations for reforming regulatory and compliance costs of university-based research.
Universities incur two types of costs in research which must be accounted for: direct costs and facilities and administrative costs (F&A), also known as indirect costs.
The purpose of this example is to illustrate the role played by Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs in supporting university research. The example begins from the perspective of a faculty member, continues using the perspectives of the institution and the federal government, and concludes with the faculty member perspective.
Reimbursement of Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs has been thoroughly studied and analyzed at a significant level since the mid-1990s. Below is a listing of some important studies and resources, followed by statistical data that are relevant to discussion of F&A reimbursement.
The Survey of 2005-2006 Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Rates (and related F&A topics) was conducted in the Fall-Winter of 2006-2007. In total, 139 surveys were completed (nine institutions had pending rate negotiations and were excluded from the calculated averages). This includes surveys completed by each of the top 20 research institutions, 41 out of the top 50, and 81 out of the top 100 institutions as listed in the 2005 NSF Survey results (R&D Expenditures, ranked by all R&D expenditures for the first 200 institutions).
Indirect Costs are Real Costs. Indirect costs of research—laboratories, building operating and maintenance costs, depreciation, interest and debt service, utilities, research instrumentation and materials, and administrative and regulatory compliance costs—are real costs that are reflected in the facilities and administration (F&A) cost reimbursement rates that are regularly negotiated and audited by the federal government.
The House FY08 DOD Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3222) Caps Indirect Cost Recovery for DOD Basic (6.1) Research at 20 Percent. H.R. 3222 contains a statutory cap of 20 percent on the facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, often referred to as indirect costs, that universities negotiate and receive from the federal government for performing 6.1 basic research (see statutory and report language below). This is NOT the same as the 26-percent cap on university administrative cost recovery that currently applies to research compliance and administrative research costs under OMB Circular A-21.
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