Establishing Core Facilities

Different from discrete instrumentation, core facilities operate as a recharge center and provide access to instruments, computational resources, technologies, services, as well as expert consultation and other services at a reasonable price to multiple groups to support diverse research activities.  

Core Facility Designation 

If interested requesting an existing recharge center be designated as a core facility, contact the Core Facility Manger in the Office of the Vice President for Research.  The manager may request that the facility director must submit a Core Facility Request form to the Office of the Vice President for Research that:

  • identifies the equipment/instrumentation already in place, as well as that planned for integration into the core;
  • describes the proposed fee structure as appropriate for a recharge center;
  • details a sustainability plan and timeframe involving review and evaluation
  • identifies the existing user community and anticipated usage by all users; and, 
  • acknowledges support by the director's academic chair/director and dean.
For additional information, see Best Practices for Core Facilities: Handling External Customers

Business Plan

Successful administration of service centers/core facilities begin with the core director and facility manager establishing a business plan.  Typical components to include:

  • Purpose of the core facility, description of offerings, and management structure
  • Identification of instrumentation
  • Standard Operating Procedures
    • identification of pertinent cost accounting regulations, such as the Uniform Guidance - specialized service facilities
    • internal processes, such as sound billing practices (e.g., decide whether to bill for scheduled time, logged time, or both) 
      • keep good records (document, document, document)
      • obtain and track approvals
      • have oversight capabilities in place with ability to:
        • review and approve requests before work is begun
        • review invoices prior to processing bill
        • allow for transparency into charges at any time before and after invoicing
      • keep charges organized and descriptive
      • bill timely, consistently, and include cost breakdown on invoice:
      • set standards for managing collections
      • develop reports on core usage and spending
      • accounts will usually be set up as sales and service accounts
  • Projected annual goals
  • Cost effectiveness / Self-sustainability
  • Review and evaluation process

Review, Evaluation, and Renewal

Frequent Review for Cost Effectiveness/Sustainability

To be compliant with the guidelines for recharge centers, the core director and manager must frequently review rates, resources, sources of funding, regulations, and overall business processes to determine cost effectiveness. 

Ideally, core facilities will be self-supporting.  However, it is recognized that most are seldom fully self-sustaining; thus core facilities typically receive some central institutional support and recoup a significant portion of operational costs are typically covered from user fees and departmental/other contributions (supplies, FTE, maintenance, etc.).  

Each Core Facility Director must routinely track metrics (usage, cost).  Users of each Core Facility may be contacted for input and evaluation information.