What does recovered F & A support?
Indirect cost, also referred to as Facilities and Administrative (F & A) cost or Overhead,
is the portion of a project's cost that is not directly charged to the sponsor. Examples
of indirect cost include utilities, telephone, departmental staff, office supplies,
accounts payable personnel, etc. Indirect cost is not profit for the university, but
is the federally approved method for recovering costs necessary to develop and maintain
the infrastructure required to support the research enterprise.
The recovered indirect cost budget and allocation is managed by the Vice President
for Research and Economic Development (VPRED). The VPRED works with the President
to create a list of priority projects and services to develop and support with recovered
indirect. Generally, the recovered indirect cost is used to support UNO's mission
as it relates to the strategic plan for research. Another core area of support is
for projects and services which benefit UNO's students. Graduate tuition waivers and
scholarships are an important use of recovered indirect cost. Listed below are some
of the recurring services supported by recovered indirect cost.
1 for 3 Graduate Assistantships
As an incentive to encourage the support of Doctoral students on sponsored funding,
one Doctoral student will be supported for each three Doctoral students completely
supported on sponsored funding in a department. The students must have a stipend and
tuition paid from the sponsored funding. Each department is examined individually
and the department chair decides who should receive the support. These assistantships
encourage outside funding and increase the number of graduate students that receive
financial support to attend UNO.
A portion of the recovered indirect cost is used to fully fund operations in the Office
of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and in Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA).
Both of these offices play an integral role in applying for and managing sponsored
funding, which includes ensuring compliance with sponsor and federal regulations.
In addition to these offices, indirect cost funds the Office of Economic Development
and Technology Transfer that manages the patent applications and technology transfers
for UNO. These functions allow UNO to continue performing research and obtaining outside
funding. All of these offices receive no general fund support.
Other offices receiving salary or operating support range from External Affairs to
Business Affairs and the Graduate School.
Since sponsored research activities increase the use of utilities and therefore increase
the cost of doing business, a portion of the indirect cost is used to pay for utilities.
The VPRED and Vice President for Business Affairs annually agree upon the level of
Compliance Committees Support
Some research projects require approval to use human or animal subjects. Their use
requires review and approval by the IRB (Institutional Review Board) or IACUC (Institutional
Animal Care and Use Committee), respectively. One member on each committee is from
the Office of Research. In addition, the Office of Research provides monetary support
to be used for committee expenses such as travel to training workshops to keep current
with federal/state compliance guidelines. These committees are a federal requirement
that support both research and instructional uses.
ORSP has a staff member on many of the other compliance committees on campus which
oversee such diverse areas of compliance as export controls, financial conflicts of
interest, and safety. Many of these committees have nominal recurring costs which
may be supported by recovered indirects.
A few sponsors require UNO to demonstrate financial commitment to a proposed project,
referred to as mandatory cost share; a proposal will not be considered for funding
without this cost share included in the proposed budget. Cost share can also occur
when specific expenses are not allowed by the sponsor.
Cost share may come from a third party, a departmental or college general fund, or
recovered indirect cost. The VPRED must approve all requests for cost share.
Through the years, recovered indirect cost has been used for tuition, equipment, salary,
supplies, etc. Some awards or projects would not be able to be completed without the
use of indirect costs for cost share.
The VPRED has the authority to approve requests to renovate or build a lab for a professor,
department or center in support of research. Lab improvements have the potential to
attract both faculty and students to UNO, improve the quality of the student's experience
at UNO, and improve the quality and quantity of sponsored funding. This is in keeping
with both UNO's and the Office of Research's mission statements.
New Faculty Start-Up
Attracting talented and dedicated faculty is important for all universities. In order
to attract top research faculty, start-up funds may be provided as part of the hiring
packet. Recovered indirect cost has been used for start-up funds, usually to supplement
what is provided by the department or college. This is at the discretion of the VPRED
and is based on negotiations with the chair and/or dean recruiting new research faculty.
Recovered Indirect Cost Return
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has a policy to return a portion of
the indirect cost recovered to each college, center/institute, and the library each
fiscal year. Per IMD 85.002, each college can receive up to 10% of their college's
recovered indirect cost (excluding any board approved center's or institute's recovered
indirect cost); each Board of Regents approved center or institute can receive up
to 25% of their recovered indirect cost; the library may receive 1% of the total recovered
Each dean or director has discretion in the use of these funds.
Because of dedication and success in their chosen field, selected professors may be
honored as an Early Research Professor, University Research Professor or President's
Research Professor through a nomination process at UNO. As recognition for their hard
work to earn these honors, an award is provided from the pool of recovered indirect
costs. The level and length of support varies with each type of award.
Research Strategic Plan
The Office of Research is continually seeking ways to improve research on campus and
achieve UNO's Research Strategic Plan, and funds may be used to support these goals.
Since the summer of 2009, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has funded
internal summer awards. The purposes of these internal awards are to improve the grant-making
skills of inexperienced investigators and to develop new areas of research or scholarly
Investigators submit a proposal just like any outside funding opportunity. The Research
Council recommends which proposals to approve funding.