FAQ

Last updated: 08/14/2019 - 3:14pm

For additional questions regarding usage of space, core facility resources, and service center administration, email recharge.help@asu.edu or, if applicable, contact your Unit Recharge Coordinator.

 

Q. I have equipment that is available for shared use.  How can I advertise this?

A.  The equipment can be advertised on the ASU Shared Resources site, with or without a fee for use.  If you charge a fee, this will be considered a recharge center. Please contact your Unit Recharge Coordinator or send a note to recharge.help@asu.edu for assistance.


Q. How do I find and schedule shared equipment?

A.  The OKED Shared Resources site is a great place to start.  Here you'll find hundreds of shared tools, equipment, and services available to ASU researchers.


Q.  How do I request cost-share from OKED for a grant to add resources to a core lab?

A.  Please submit the following to the Director of Research Infrastructure and Facilities, a minimum of two months before the grant deadline.
1) Description of the grant opportunity,
2) summary of the equipment, etc. to be requested, and an assessment of the value of the equipment to ASU research,
3) a description of the current availability of similar resources to ASU researchers,
4) justification for the amount of the request (e.g. equipment quotes) and documentation of the need for cost-share,
5) description of any additional space or renovation needs,
6) letter from the unit chair or dean supporting the request,
7) grant deadline, and
8) a business plan for the core lab (link to document).


Q. How can a recharge center manager accumulate funds for replacing equipment?

A.  Recharge center capital equipment (purchase price more than $5,000, useful life more than one year) can be depreciated with standard, straight-line depreciation, and the value of this depreciation included when calculating rates for internal users.  If the capital equipment was purchased with non-federal funds and it is not included in the university's F&A rate (this will be confirmed during rate reviews), then funds collected from internal users equal to such depreciation can be accumulated for future capital purchases.  Additionally, external users can be charged for overhead (facilities and administrative costs) and additional premiums that can be accumulated for this purpose. To include these types of costs in rates for external users, submit a revised Recharge Cost Tool spreadsheet to Fiscal Oversight for approval, as detailed in the Requirements tab of this sitelet. The latest version of the cost tool can be obtained through the Related Documents tab.


Q. How is equipment useful life determined?

A. ASU Property Control maintains a list of useful lives. This was developed originally from federal schedules. It has since been updated to account for changes in technology and to reflect real-world cradle to grave analysis of ASU equipment.  Useful lives assigned to specific assets are recorded in the Property Control database.  This is accessible via MyReports. For instructions on requesting access to MyReports click here.


Q.  How does the university determine subsidy levels for recharge centers?

A.  The degree to which a center is subsidized (if at all) is left to the discretion of the unit providing the subsidy (department, college or VP area).   Benchmarking studies indicate that the norm is to balance institutional subsidy of operating costs with recharge revenue.  The same studies indicate that the overall cost of capital equipment is normally shared equally between sponsors and institutions.


Q. Can my recharge center offer fee waivers/discounts to junior faculty or as incentives for equipment contributions or grant-writing?

A. These can only be offered with approval from the dean/director/chair of the unit providing a subsidy to recharge center. This is allowable if sufficient institutional subsidy is provided to the center to make up the difference between the approved rate for other internal users and the discounted rate for the select users. Please note that faculty should not indicate to sponsors that they will receive a discounted rate without institutional approval. Any proposed waivers or discounts must also be reviewed and approved by Fiscal Oversight during the rate review process.


Q.  Are there other cases where discounts can be offered?

A.  To maximize revenue and cost recovery, particularly in cases where fixed costs are high and unused capacity exists, centers may choose to offer discounts to incentivize use.  These include discounts during non-peak hours and volume discounts.  Measures must be taken to ensure that equal incentives are given to any and all users receiving sponsored funding from a federal entity. See additional guidance above related to offering discounts.


Q.  Can I provide services to other universities and industry using equipment purchased on a federally sponsored project?

A.  Yes.  Rates charged to external users need to be set appropriately (see guidance here) and may include a reasonable additional fee in excess of the cost of the service.


Q.  Can I use equipment purchased on a current sponsored project to provide services to unrelated projects?

A.  If sufficient capacity exists, unless the project stipulates otherwise, the equipment may be used. The sponsor should be notified. This may qualify as Program Income.


Q.  Are there circumstances when the internal (ASU) rate should be charged to other universities or non-profits?

A.  Normally, these groups would be charged at the minimum external billing rate.  However, there are cases where the internal rate is appropriate.  These include work performed under a cooperative agreement (MOU) between institutions, and when a recharge center receives federal subsidy to provide services to the research community (for example, an NSF consortium).


Q.   Can recharge funds be used for something unrelated to the recharge center?

A.  Funds derived from charges to federally sponsored projects are subject to restrictions similar to those that apply to sponsored accounts.  Guidance can be found in OMB 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance) and the recharge center Cost Accounting Guidelines.

Fewer restrictions apply to funds derived from other sources.  Centers should adopt an accounting system that ensures each customer pays their fair share of allowable recharge center expenses before using additional funds for federally unallowable or unrelated expenses.

Recommended strategies include:

A. 
1. Collect all revenue to one account and keep track of internal vs. external units sold.
2. Transfer (annually or more frequently) the premium generated by charging higher rates to external customers (difference between internal rates and external rates multiplied by external units sold) to a non-recharge account.
3. Use premium as needed to fund federally unallowable/unrelated expenses.

B. 
1. Collect all external revenues to a separate account.
2. Use the (internal) recharge account to bill the external account at the internal rate.
3. Use balance in external account for unrelated expenses.


Q. Can fee caps be set so that use over a defined threshold is not billed to the user?

A. In theory, this is similar to providing discounts or fee waivers (see above) and could be justified if sufficient institutional subsidy exists to offset waived charges.  However, there are a couple key differences.  First, capping rates results in charging a higher per-unit rate to those below the cap (minor users, perhaps junior faculty) than those above (major users with well-developed research programs).  Those above the cap receive an increasingly lower rate as their use increases.  Secondly, it may be difficult to determine whether we are providing completely fair and best pricing to the federal government (charging to sponsored accounts) if we are subsidizing use over a certain threshold. There is a greater administrative burden to make sure that we are capturing all unbilled usage so that we can make sure no users are receiving lower rates than other federally-funded users.

For these reasons, capping fees is not recommended.  However, to maximize revenue and cost recovery, particularly in cases where fixed costs are high and unused capacity exists, centers should consider other strategies for incentivizing use.  These include discounts during non-peak hours and volume discounts.  See additional guidance above related to offering discounts. Centers that wants to include rate caps in their rate schedules must meet the following requirements:
• Must have a separate annual subsidy source of revenue used to operate the center that can be used to offset imputed revenue
• Must have a documented action plan and accounting/tracking system capable of calculating imputed revenue annually
• Must submit rates to Fiscal Oversight annually rather than biannually for review and approval.


Q.  In some cases, the cost of providing services is not directly proportional to the number of units provided.  Can rates be set to reflect this?

 A. Yes.  Examples of this include:
 Volume discounts – cost efficiencies might exist when equipment is used in large blocks  or many of the same product are produced.  For instance, when applicable a one-week  block of use may be charged at a weekly rate that is less on a per-hour basis than an  hourly rate.

 Combination rates – for instance, it might be more appropriate to charge a flat fee for each session, run, or analysis to recover fixed setup costs and an additional per-unit fee  for each unit beyond the first X units included in the cost of setup.

 
Q. Why are some recharge center accounts not charged the university's Administrative Service Charge (ASC)?  How is the ASC that would have been charged to these accounts collected?

A.  Because administrative expenses are generally unallowable costs on sponsored projects, recharge accounts that receive revenue from charges to sponsored projects are not charged ASC directly.  Instead, the center's college or VP area may choose to have the assessed fee charged to another account in their area or address the fee otherwise.  It is up to each unit to decide how to compensate.  A common approach is to reduce the subsidy from the unit to the recharge center by the amount of the ASC.


Q. Are any recharge center accounts completely exempt from ASC?

A. Centers that are funded nearly entirely (greater than 91.5%) by revenues derived from charges to sponsored projects are exempt.


Q. Which costs should not be included in my calculated rates?

A.  The Cost Accounting Guidelines include a list of unallowable charges that should not be included in center rates. ASU Cost Accounting Standards Board Disclosure Statement Form DS-2 should also reflect these types of unallowable charges. Because ASC, Risk Management, and Technology fees have been included in ASU's F&A rate, these costs are charged indirectly to sponsored projects, and sponsored accounts should not have these types of fees charged to them through recharge rates as well. Therefore, ASC, Risk Management, and Technology fees should not be included in rates developed for internal users.


Q.  How can a recharge center bill users for services?

 A.  Internal users can be billed via the Advantage Billing System.  Your Unit Recharge Coordinator can help you get set up to do this.  External users can be  invoiced directly by the recharge center or with the assistance of ASU Accounts Receivable.   Payment is most commonly made by check or credit card.  Contact Financial Services for  assistance with receivables or credit card payments.


Q. Can a recharge center bill now for work that will be performed in the future?

A.  Federally sponsored projects and ASU state accounts may not be pre-billed. Some non-federal grants may allow pre-billing.  The center should ask for written authorization from the grantor.  Local accounts may generally be pre-billed with permission from the account manager.

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