University of Saskatchewan

September 23, 2014   

Research Overhead Fund (ROF)

The Administration of Research Overheads policy established a number of fundamental principles regarding the management and use of research overhead in the form of the Research Overhead Fund (ROF). These principles are:

  1. Research overhead should be re-invested to support and enhance systems, facilities, programs and services associated with research activity;

  2. University allocation practices related to research overhead revenues will recognize that legitimate overhead costs are incurred at various levels – researcher, centre, department, college, and central administrative services and facilities; and

  3. Research overhead revenue should be allocated in such a manner as to encourage additional research activity.

To achieve these goals, the policy broadly outlined an allocation strategy for the ROF which would address legitimate overhead costs incurred centrally, and by colleges, centres, departments, and/or individuals, and would provide incentives for continued and enhanced research. This strategy adheres to the principles established by the Indirect Costs of Research Advisory Committee, formed in 2003, which apply to tri-council grant ‘overhead’ or indirect costs funding; however, tri-council indirect cost funds are more ‘restricted’ because of eligibility decisions made by the federal Secretariat, whereas the ROF can be more flexible and responsive to satisfy University of Saskatchewan needs and achieve immediate goals.

The allocation strategy outlined in the Administration of Research Overheads policy follows a two-way division of research overhead:

  1. An allocation of 50% will be distributed among the following parties – the college, department and/or centre housing the researcher(s), and the researcher(s). In the event that a pre-existing arrangement exists, more than 50% could be distributed under this category. All of these pre-existing arrangements will be reviewed in the current planning cycle.

  2. The remainder of the overhead collected will be allocated centrally. These funds will cover central administration costs – programs, services, and facilities – associated with sponsored research activity. A portion of these funds will be invested in research enhancement and incentive programs and services to be provided by the Office of the Vice-President Research. The allocation of funds to new initiatives will be determined based on a three-year rolling average of research overhead. Initially, funds available for these programs are expected to be modest, but may grow (in proportion to the amount available for central administration) as the incentives to engage in sponsored research activities are successfully realized.

The Indirect Costs of Research Advisory Committee will assume responsibility for advice and oversight in the administration and management of the ROF. This Committee will help ensure that grant and contract overhead revenues (in addition to tri-council indirect costs funding) are managed in a comparable approach that meets the University’s goals to cover the actual ‘true’ costs of research activity and to increase research intensiveness. The Committee will provide advice and, where decisions are necessary, an appropriate recommendation to the Vice-President Research who, in turn, is accountable to PCIP for the effective management of the ROF.