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Costs of Research

When universities perform research on behalf of the federal government, they incur costs – commonly referred to as Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, commonly called indirect costs.  F&A costs encompass: the maintenance of sophisticated, high-tech laboratories and research facilities; utilities such as lighting and heating; hazardous waste disposal; data-storage; information technology and internet services; and the administrative support required to comply with various federal, state, and local regulations and reporting requirements.  Historically, the federal government has partnered with research universities to pay for these critical and necessary research expenses, just as it does when it contracts with industry or utilizes is own federal laboratories to conduct research. 

AAU works with its members to help explain the how the federal government supports both the direct and indirect costs of federally funded research. The Association also works to ensure that F&A costs reimbursements are sufficient to support the physical and administrative infrastructure necessary for universities to continue to conduct research on behalf of the government.

See Also: Reducing Regulatory Burden



The federal government has long sponsored research at universities because innovations and new technologies help our country prosper and enhance our national security.
Letter to Mick Mulvaney, Director, OMB regarding the need for federal investment in basic research.
The Association of American Universities (AAU), the association of 60 leading U.S. research universities, calls on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to promote policies that foster innovation, enhance college affordability, attract and retain top international talent, and make the federal investments in research and higher education more efficient.
Report identifies specific actions Congress, the White House, federal agencies, and research institutions should take to reduce regulatory burden.
Sally Rockey, explains indirect costs and how they support research.
RFI: Optimizing Funding Policies and Other Strategies to Improve the Impact and Sustainability of Biomedical Research
Who benefits from federal infrastructure and administrative support funding to research institutions?
This paper describes the financial landscape of research universities and advocates for active collaboration among all stakeholders to address financial risks in a productive manner.
The FDP conducted a survey of principal investigators of federally-funded projects to determine the impact of federal regulations and requirements on the research process.