Ask a New Question
Most Recent Conversations
A: The core team has not been assembled yet. We will make the team member list widely available so that everybody can provide their input. It will be a diverse team comprising young and senior investigators, basic and clinical researchers, clinicians, UHN leadership, staff and trainees. A larger stakeholder group will be consulted with and there will be ample opportunity for the entire community to be involved.
A: The important concept here is that each institute/site will create sustainable balanced budgets to ensure that revenues from foundation support, overheads, and other sources are sufficient to cover all indirect costs. These indirect costs include the costs for the space that the institute administers, the net costs for all PI salaries and other institute operations, and each institute’s share of RSS costs. We are working on the logistics for this and will phase this new accounting in over the next fiscal year.
Q: With the implementation of the new fee, many labs that are already struggling may not be able to accommodate the increased overhead and may have to shut down. Are there plans in place to prevent this?
A: I recognize that this represents an increased cost of research. However, it is a real cost and one that must be shared by all. Ensuring that all sources of funds contribute in at least a small way to the real indirect costs associated with research is important. Our true indirect costs are over 30%. I recognize that the funding environment is difficult and it is important to ensure that we create an environment that makes our researchers competitive. The additional revenue from this fee we can invest in our own businesses and provide timely, efficient, and effective services.
Providing increased institutional support for research is something that we do need to consider in the current funding climate. I will continue to work with the Research Directors to look at ways to both improve our funding success and to support our researchers directly.
Q: When will the P&L model begin? When will reports of each PI’s profit and loss become available to help with decision making to ensure that the budget is balanced?
A: This new model will be phased in over the next fiscal year.
Q: Projects use services at different rates. Dry labs (eg, imaging labs) will end up supporting basic science labs with the 5% administrative fee. This does not seem fair.
A: The contributions towards overheads and the paying of indirect costs are very uneven across UHN. Some individuals bring in tremendous amounts of overhead while others—whose primary sources of revenue may be agencies that don’t provide overhead—pay much less. I think we have to consider the kind of research environment that we want at UHN and the importance and balance for all of these types of research. We also have to consider that there may be certain areas of high priority that bring in much less overhead. We need to establish a balance across our institutes and ensure that there are opportunities for growth in these priority areas while maintaining financial stability. I think that the way to move forward is to look at our activities in aggregate and require that revenues from all activities pay for all the indirect costs. Many of the services supported by this fee are common to all activities including support for finance, compliance, risk, legal, IT, quality, integrity, infrastructure and others.
Q: Will the 5% research support fee be for all foundation accounts or just for those that support research (ie, will it include foundation accounts that support salaries, for example those for fellows)?
A: The fee will apply to all foundation accounts administered through Research Financial Services including those that pay for fellows or any other incremental staff associated with foundation funding. The fee will NOT be charged to any funds that are designated to pay for indirect costs (space, PI salaries/institute operations).
Q: How do we report the 5% research support fee to funding bodies which don’t provide overhead? The 5% fee will not be part of the contract.
A: Research Financial Services will remain responsible for reporting and will ensure that the administration fee, if applied, is compliant within funding body regulations. The finance team is in the process of determining what these requirements will be for each agency, and the fee will be rolled for each sponsor as this work is completed. Researchers will be contacted in advance if there are any new contractual requirements.
What will be the institutes’ role and involvement in decision making, since those decisions will have an impact on their budgets?
Each of the institutes will be responsible for developing a balanced budget and for making their own decisions on the areas they want to prioritize and support. This will be done within the context of a UHN-wide research strategic plan and with the support of the foundations. Foundation contributions and support for indirect costs will ultimately determine the size and scope of each research institute.
Q: Is the 5% research support fee expected to balance the research institute annual budgets? If there is a surplus, will that be used for the research programs?
A: Under the new financial structure, each institute/site will work to ensure that revenues for indirect expenses from all sources (including overheads from institute funding and this new fee) are able to fully cover their indirect costs. The 5% fee will be an important contribution to the indirect costs that are created with all sponsored research and is an important step towards a long-term financial stability plan for each institute. If there is ever a surplus in overheads/fees relative to indirect costs in any individual institute, this surplus will be returned back to support additional direct costs for research.