wealth distribution

SIU revises distribution of funds recovered for research-related costs

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July 21, 2022

SIU revises distribution of funds recovered for research-related costs

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Chancellor Austin A. Lane will accept the recommendations of a task force charged with creating a new system for recovering so-called indirect costs associated with externally funded research and service grants and for distributing the funds.

The Chancellor’s Indirect Cost Recovery Task Force, made up of faculty, staff and administration from around campus, came up with a plan to divide the money among various offices responsible for supporting the projects. (Read the task force report.)

Lane noted that one of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan’s five pillars is research and innovation.

“I am grateful to the task force members, who spent a considerable amount of time putting together a compelling and thorough report,” Lane said. “I look forward to continuing to work with our outstanding faculty to strengthen SIU Carbondale’s reputation, which is greatly enhanced by quality research and creative activities.”

The task force’s recommendations aim to:

  • Provide explicit funding support for undergraduate research.
  • Return indirect cost recovery funds to faculty to incentivize expanded research efforts.
  • Provide funding for equipment purchase/upkeep in the research support facilities.
  • Invest in centralized research infrastructure to support the research enterprise, and provide funds for staff training, grant writing workshops and operational costs in the Office of Sponsored Projects Administration.
  • Provide a chancellor’s allocation that also is designated to cover information technology and Morris Library support.

The task force, led by Tom Shaw, associate professor in the School of Health Sciences, recommended the new model take effect on July 1, 2022.

When faculty or staff apply for outside funding for research or service projects, the university is allowed to ask for certain percentages above the cost of the project that will then go toward supporting it. Because of this, the money also is known as “facilities and administration” funding, or “F and A.”

SIU employs an outside auditor to investigate and determine the rates – which vary among on-campus research (currently up to 47.5%), off-campus research (up to 26%) and service grants (up to 31%) – every few years. In some cases, such as when a nonprofit organization is funding a project, the university does not seek indirect cost recovery funds.

The funds are divided among various campus offices, including the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate School Dean (44%), the chancellor’s office (15%), Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (6%) and deans and colleges (24%), as well as faculty (4%), to support the projects.

Along with the new distribution percentages, the university will continue to take 15% of the indirect costs recovery funds to pay down a deficit in its fringe benefits fund, which pays for staff and faculty benefits during periods when their positions are supported by the outside grants.

Shaw praised the task force members’ efforts, and especially Gary Kinsel, vice chancellor for research, who all worked diligently to find an equitable solution.

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