Facilities and Administration (F&A) Rate


What is F&A?

Facilities and administration costs are actual costs that UAF incurs to support sponsored research, education or outreach projects. F&A costs generally cannot be attributed to specific projects or activities, and therefore are called "indirect" or "overhead" costs. UAF principal investigators are required, with some exceptions, to add indirect costs, expressed as "the F&A rate," to proposals for funding. This is standard practice among universities. F&A receipts, also known as indirect cost recovery, or ICR, are distributed among several UAF units.

How are the F&A rates determined?

  1. A formulaic calculation of allowable costs is made by the UA System office according to published federal regulations. (Complete)
  2. The Office of Naval Research evaluates whether they agree with the calculation. ONR may propose a lower rate than that calculated as allowable. (In progress)
  3. Once ONR proposes a rate to UA for UAF, we (with UA) then decide whether to accept ONR's rate or to adopt a lower rate.

The following questions are from the Nov. 19, 2018 memo listed below.

Q: Why are UAF’s F&A rates being reassessed?

A: Nationally, university rates are updated on average every four years. The UA rates were last approved in 2013 for FY14. The rates were approved for three years, but upon UA’s request, were extended for an additional two years through the end of FY18. The UA rates are due for reassessment.  

Q: What are the new rates?

A: The new rates have not yet been finalized. UA Statewide completed analysis of UAF’s FY17 actual costs to calculate updated rates for submission to ONR in June 2018. The new UAF rates were calculated as:

  • Organized research: 63.9%
  • Organized research, DOD contracts: 74.0%
  • Sponsored instruction/training: 50.0%
  • Other sponsored activity: 38.2%
  • Poker Flat: 28.1%
  • Sikuliaq: 32.1%

However, these new rates have not yet been approved by ONR, and UA is operating under ONR-approved provisional rates in the meantime. The provisional rates currently in effect are the lesser of the 2013 rates or the calculated new rates. ONR uses Defense Contract Audit Agency to audit all of the university calculations prior to considering the proposed new rates; the audit is detailed and still in process. After ONR receives DCAA’s audit findings, it will negotiate final rates with UA statewide. It is expected that the new rates will be approved for a four year period, FYs 19-22.

Q:  Why are some of the proposed new rates increasing?

A: The F&A cost rates calculated for UAF organized research have increased substantially from FY14. Two of the biggest factors contributing to this increase are: (1) facility costs increased substantially due to new costs for the new Engineering Learning and Innovation Facility (ELIF) and Combined Heat and Power Plant buildings; and (2) grant and contract activity, the denominator in the F&A rate calculation ratio, has declined slightly. Both of these factors relate to declining state support for the university. UAF is not the only public university experiencing declining state support; it is a trend that is playing out nationally. University F&A rates are a subject of concern in Congress, but reflect actual costs that states are decreasingly able to subsidize.

Q: Will the new rate agreement apply to both federal and nonfederal projects?

A: Yes, once finalized, the new rates will apply to all extramurally sponsored projects. It is generally UAF’s policy to include full F&A costs on all extramurally funded projects unless a sponsored agency limits or forbids the reimbursement of F&A based on federal/state/local law, administrative regulations, or within a published sponsor policy. However, UAF will continue to have a process in place to consider requests for waivers from application of full F&A rates on projects.

Q: Does UAF plan to amend the current ICR distribution formula?

A: A change in UAF’s approved F&A rates does not mean a change in internal distribution of indirect cost recovery receipts. Although federal regulation specifies how F&A rates are calculated, once revenues are received, universities have discretion as to how to allocate internally. Although much of the calculated rate increase is due to new facility costs, some is also because there are fixed costs in the units that cannot easily be reduced even as the base of active researchers has declined some. There have not been any discussions at UAF to date regarding modifying how ICR is distributed.

The following questions came from the Nov. 20, 2018 Chancellor's Forum on budget planning.

Q: If the UA system increases F and A ~30 percent to a rate of 64 percent, how will that affect overall proposal competitiveness and will such an increase lead to faculty shifting expensive items to other University budgets with lower F and A rates on collaborative proposals? And more PI's seeking the 25 percent off campus rate for field work?

A: The facilities and administrative rate is being negotiated between the UA statewide office and the Office of Naval Research and is not yet finalized. UAF has a goal of expanding our research capacity and we understand the concern of our researchers that our F&A rates might make that more challenging. We will be exploring options for both covering our costs and maintaining the capabilities of our research enterprise.

— Larry Hinzman, vice chancellor for research

Q: Do you think UAF is more competitive with the proposed increase to F&A rates? Current UAF rates are similar, if not slightly higher than other comparable academic institutions that also engage in Arctic research. Given that Arctic research is generally more costly to begin with, is this the best mechanism for recouping institutional costs associated with specific departments as per the justification?

A: The facilities and administrative rate is actually the only mechanism to recoup the cost of conducting the business of research from funding agencies. If we waive F&A costs, we are accepting that expense within UAF. Given state funding reductions to the university over the last several years, UAF has less ability to absorb unfunded costs. We know UAF is number one in Arctic research because of the work our researchers do, and we do recognize the potential burden of increased F&A rates to our research community and will try to be strategic about mitigating the impacts.

— Larry Hinzman, vice chancellor for research


A faculty task force, including the following members, has been named to advise Chancellor White:

  • Donie Bret-Harte, Faculty Senate president
  • David Fee, professor, GI volcanology
  • Andrew Mahoney, research assistant professor, GI Snow, Ice and Permafrost
  • Nicole Misarti, research associate professor, Institute of Northern Engineering, Water and Environmental Research Center
  • Brandon Boylan, assistant professor, political science, College of Liberal Arts
  • Sandra Kowalski, director, Indigenous studies, College of Rural and Community Development

All UAF faculty, staff and administrators are invited to provide input to the task force and to Chancellor White via the form below.

Please fill out the Google form below if you would like to give input on UAF's proposed F&A rate. Your input will be shared with the task force and with the Chancellor's Core Cabinet.

Note: You must be signed into Google Apps @ UA to access the form below.