In a department, administrators and PIs have a lot of room to negotiate with other institutions when it comes to budgets involving awards and subcontracts. Personnel effort? That’s a classic. Materials and supplies? Probably your first stop. Indirect cost percentage? Slow your roll, holmes.
If the project is federally-sponsored, chances are slim that you’ll be successful in your quest F&A reduction below our negotiated 54%*. There are times when a lower F&A rate is acceptable without waiver/permission; for instance, the funding opportunity announcement caps the rate at lower than our negotiated rate, or the award is being transferred from another entity with direct cost equivalency. Anything else requires a waiver with approval from the Vice Dean and SPA. You cannot negotiate a reduced F&A on your own.
Here at Wayne State, the waiver request process begins with an IDC Waiver form. The Research Administrator and the PI should initiate the request, and it must be approved by the PI, the department chair, and the Vice Dean for Research before being sent for approval to SPA. The Vice Dean for Research will consider requests for Indirect (F&A) cost waivers in very limited circumstances, so be sure your justification is sound. Here are some examples that may be considered on a case-by-case basis:
- Capped awards
- Seed grants which may attract larger awards
- Only available source of funds in an area
- Strategic partnerships
- Awards which include equipment or building funds
If you’re just trying to make a proposal look more competitive, or the PI/department failed to submit the proposal via approved institutional channels (e.g., through the Vice Dean or SPA) prior to submission to the sponsor, you’re out of luck. Wayne State’s acceptance of an award with an unapproved F&A reduction does not constitute acceptance of the rate. If you are awarded with a reduced F&A that was not properly approved, you must renegotiate at the time of award, otherwise the department will be responsible for cost-sharing the portion of the F&A not paid by the sponsor.
Questions? You know where to find us!
* 54% is our federally-negotiated rate at the time of this post.