Mark J. Nelson — Man, one of my colleagues got...

Man, one of my colleagues got so mad at how hard it was to spend his grant money due to university admin obstructionism & bureaucracy that he ragequit the system, set up a whole separate nonprofit org, and now routes all NSF/NIH grants through the nonprofit. (Still a prof here, just no grants here.)

I do think the admin sees it that way – they see the 50% as kind of a university profit margin and ideally don't want to actually plow it back into supporting their side of the research enterprise (which is what in theory it is supposed to pay for). Not sure how it works out in practice.

Dan Greene

Universities are all different but I am fairly convinced by Chris Newfield's analysis of the UC's that indirects are primarily used to manage grants and apply for more of them, so it's only profit in the sense that it's not plowed back into the original grant--not in terms of funding, eg, teaching

Mark J. Nelson

I suspect they're finding that here too... there was a push to increase external funding to reduce our tuition-dependence, which was successful (about 3x compared to 5 y/a) and there's not a lot of grumbling about the added work. I think they might've thought overheads would just be free money.

Dan Greene

I suspect they're finding that here too... there was a push for more external funding to reduce tuition-dependence, which was successful (about 3x vs 5 y/a) but there's now grumbling about the added work & some retreat from the grant push. They might've thought overheads would just be free money?

Dan Greene

What Brett said — the usual rate here would have tanked the usefulness of the grant we were applying for (to say nothing of the 8 other universities involved) but miraculously we got everyone to agree to do the de minimis rate for their cut (in the unlikely event we get the grant, which factored in)

Brett Bobley

50+ is normal for NSF. Ours is 53. Justified on the basis of infrastructure and personnel necessary to support fixed capital costs. The cut is probably too high but the cost is real and bc of universities' cost disease issues, it only goes up. This is why scientific grants can't be profit centers.

Jessica Wranosky

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