Facilities and Administration

What is F&A? 

Facilities & Administration (F&A) costs - also referred to as indirect or overhead costs - are costs for general use items routinely purchased/provided by the University, such as those incurred for common or joint objectives that cannot be readily and specifically identified with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.  Examples of F&A costs include:

  • services by Purchasing, Human Resource Services, Facility Services, Business Services, and the like;
  • use of office and/or laboratory space and equipment;
  • general use supplies;
  • heat, light, power and janitorial services, etc.; and, 
  • time spent by academic departments, deans' offices, ORSP, Library Services, etc. 

What is the F&A Rate?

When the federal government increased its research activity following World War II, the need for additional facilities and accompanying  administrative infrastructure became readily apparent.  Recognizing that universities and other entities across the nation already had laboratories and administrative components (accounts payable, human resources, etc.) in place, the federal government outsourced its projects and reimbursed for expenses. Because some activities require extensive use of an institution's services and facilities while others involved minimal use, an equitable mechanism was needed to be able to reimburse an institution for the indirect costs associated with a sponsored project. The result was federally-negotiated Facilities & Administration Rate Agreements.  

UM's Facilities & Administration (F&A) Rate Agreement is negotiated with Health and Human Services every three to four years and is derived through a complex calculation involving space usage and the following cost pools:  

  1. building depreciation; 
  2. equipment depreciation; 
  3. interest; 
  4. operations & maintenance; 
  5. library services; and 
  6. four administrative components that together were capped at 26% per OMB in 1993
    • general administration, 
    • departmental administration, 
    • sponsored projects administration; and 
    • student services administration.  

The specific percentages in UM's F&A Rate Agreement:  

Through June 30,2017

Organized Research (OR)

Instruction (IN)

Other Sponsored Activity (OS)







Building Deprec.




Equipment Deprec.








Op & Maintenance








General Admin




Dept Administration




Spon Projects Admin




Student Service Admin


    Admin Components

















If any rate other than UM's negotiated rate is applied, F&A is typically based on total direct costs (TDC) unless otherwise directed by the sponsor or where other extenuating circumstances exist, such as meeting match requirements with all or part of unrecovered F&A calculated appropriately per UM's negotiated rate. 

Per Montana University System Board of Regent Policy 404 – Indirect Cost Recovery Rate, the University seeks to recover all Facilities & Administrative (F&A) allowed by the sponsor. UM allows exceptions for proposals totaling 10K or less and internship funding (8% TDC unless otherwise specified by the sponsor).

It is critical that the appropriate rate be applied to proposals and awards. Per OMB-A21 G.7 and 2 CFR 200, Appendix III C.7 UM will propose and apply the appropriate F&A rate at the time of the initial award throughout the life of the sponsored agreement unless otherwise directed by the sponsor.  

In instances where sponsors do not allow UM's full negotiated F&A rate, partial recovery will be allowed with adequate documentation.

UM's negotiated recovery rate is based on modified total direct cost (MTDC) as detailed in the F&A Rate Agreement. MTDC includes all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and subawards up to the first $25K of each subaward (regardless of the period covered by the subaward). MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, participant support costs, tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, fellowships, and subsistence allowances, as well as the portion of each subaward in excess of $25K. 

The effective F&A recovery is considerably lower than the real costs incurred.  The University further subsidizes research when a reduced, non-standard F&A rate is applied to a project.  While there are circumstances where a reduced F&A rate may be appropriate, it is important for everyone to understand this results in a loss of revenue to the University.

VPR Whittenburg details where F&A recovery was invested in FY13 in his Feb 11 2014 email announcing the new F&A Rate Agreement

State F&A Rates

 Per MUS BOR Policy 404 – Indirect Cost Recovery Rate:  

  • For State projects that involve federal flow-through funding, UM's federally-negotiated rate will be applied, or the maximum rate allowed under statute for the program or agency;
  • For State funded projects, consult with ORSP to determine type of activity:
    • if research, the F&A rate shall be 25% of the total direct costs; 
    • if training, the F&A rate shall be 8% of total direct costs.  

What is a Disclosure Statement?

Public Law 100-679 requires a Disclosure Statement (DS-2) (OMB A-21 C.14) of cost accounting practices from any institution of higher education that receives $25 million or more in sponsored agreements/awards. Institutions must demonstrate adherence to Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) per  OMB A- 21, Cost Principles for Institutions of Higher Education. 

The DS-2 is intended to clarify the cost accounting practices that the institution follows or proposes to follow. The DS-2 describes the methodology for distinguishing direct costs from facilities and administrative costs (also known as indirect costs) and identifies the methodology for cumulating and allocating the facilities and administrative costs. 

Definitions of Activities

The rate must correlate with the activity performed as defined by OMB A-21 B. If a sponsored project straddles two activity areas, ORSP will apply the rate that correlates to the bulk of the activity. 

Organized Research - all research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for. It includes:

(1) Sponsored research means all research and development activities that are sponsored by Federal and non Federal agencies and organizations. This term includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques (commonly called research training) where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function.

 (2) University research means all research and development activities that are separately budgeted and accounted for by the institution under an internal application of institutional funds. University research, for purposes of this document, shall be combined with sponsored research under the function of organized research.

Instruction - the teaching and training activities of an institution. Except for research training as provided under Organized Research, this term includes all teaching and training activities, whether they are offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non credit basis, and whether they are offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions, such as a summer school division or an extension division. Also considered part of this major function are departmental research, and, where agreed to, university research.

(1) Sponsored instruction and training means specific instructional or training activity established by grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. For purposes of the cost principles, this activity may be considered a major function even though an institution's accounting treatment may include it in the instruction function.

(2) Departmental research means research, development and scholarly activities that are not organized research and, consequently, are not separately budgeted and accounted for. Departmental research, for purposes of this document, is not considered as a major function, but as a part of the instruction function of the institution.

Other Sponsored Activities - programs and projects financed by Federal and non Federal agencies and organizations which involve the performance of work other than instruction and organized research. Examples of such programs and projects are health service projects, and community service programs. However, when any of these activities are undertaken by the institution without outside support, they may be classified as other institutional activities.

Off Campus - a project is considered off campus if activities are performed in facilities not owned by UM or for which rent/lease is directly allocated to a sponsored project. As a result, the Off Campus rate reflects only the administrative component, which was capped at 26% per OMB in 1993.  

If the activity is conducted at two or more physical locations (split between on and off campus facilities), the rate applied will be the one that reflects where the majority of effort occurs.  See UM's F&A Rate Agreement

Why is it important?

UM has a legal and ethical obligation to accurately present proposal and award budgets that are allowable, allocable, and reasonable.  If the incorrect rate is used, it may be subject to the False Claims Act with significant consequences for the PI and University.