The University has established overhead (or indirect cost) rates to be used in budgeting for research projects.
The indirect costs of research are institutional costs that benefit and support research. The costs cannot be attributed directly or easily to a specific research project, but they are nevertheless just as real and necessary for the conduct of research. They include such items as building space and utilities, university libraries, hazardous waste disposal, radiation safety, occupational safety, campus security, liability insurance, compliance with government policies and administrative services. The terms "indirect costs" and "overhead" mean the same thing and are used interchangeably.
The Canadian Federal Government
The Canadian federal government supports the indirect costs of research funded by the National Granting Councils (Tri-Agencies) and Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE). Simon Fraser and other Canadian universities receive an annual grant to contribute towards their indirect costs of research based on the average level of funding attributed to SFU investigators over the previous three years from those sources. The annual Government Indirect Costs program grant at SFU has historically been approximately 25% of the total grants attributed to SFU investigators.
Some Exceptions to Overhead
SFU does not charge overhead on Tri-Agency or NCE grants or on grants for which the sponsor’s guidelines prevent charging overhead per se. However, SFU does charge overhead on grants used to match Tri-Agency or other non-Tri-Agency grants or contracts. For example, industry funds used to match an NSERC grant must include 25% overhead.
With regard to overheads (indirect costs of research) on research grants and contracts, the Vice-Presidents of the four research universities in BC have pre-negotiated overhead rates with various organizations, to ensure consistency within the Province. Therefore, faculty members and deans should not negotiate overhead rates, but should contact ORS to find out what rates have already been negotiated. If ORS has not had prior dealings with an organization, it will negotiate overhead rates after it has been apprised of the nature of the grant or contract. It should be noted that revenues from overheads not only provide research support to the Faculties, who receive 50% of the indirect costs, but also fund the services offered by ORS. A fair overhead rate benefits individual researchers and improves the services that can be offered to researchers.
Questions concerning overhead or other eligible cost items to be charged in lieu of overhead should be directed to the Director.