Costs of Research
Cutting-edge research is capital intensive, requiring investment in buildings and instrumentation. The federal government has traditionally recognized this cost and shared these expenses with universities by providing some infrastructure reimbursement as part of funding for a research grant.
The costs of research normally are divided into two broad categories:
Direct Costs: This portion of a grant includes the costs of conducting a specific research project, including research salaries, specific equipment, and laboratory materials.
Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A Costs): These costs—which have historically been referred to as "indirect costs," or overhead—include facility construction and maintenance, utilities, libraries, and research administration and accounting. The federal government has historically provided reimbursement for these F&A costs, but over time, even as the real costs of research infrastructure and administration have soared, the government has paid less than its fair share and shifted new costs onto research institutions.