The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Administrative Overhead (AO) defined

The Administrative Overhead Rate is charged to revenue and student fee operations to recover some of the central service costs generated in support of the operation which are paid for with central General Operating Funds.  In compliance with State law, every revenue operation must be self-supporting and bear an allocable share of the direct and indirect costs of central services provided by the campus.

Examples of these central services are:

Budget Office Human Relations Procurement
Bursar's Office Human Resources Public Affairs
Controller's Office Institutional Research Public Safety
Equal Opportunity and Diversity New Office Space Management
Financial Cost and Analysis President's Office (Campus Share)  

The rate is calculated as a campus-wide ratio of applicable indirect costs to the respective revenue and student fee operation direct costs.

Facilities and Administration (F & A) Rate defined (also known as indirect cost rate)

The Facilities and Administration or F & A rate is federally mandated and determines the amount of reimbursement received for the indirect costs incurred by sponsored activities on campus.  The F & A rate contains components for building and equipment depreciation, capital interest, operations and maintenance costs, departmental and general administrative expenses.  Every two to three years a new rate is calculated based on current expenditure data and negotiated with the Federal Government.  The FY12 campus overhead rate on research grants and contracts is 59% of direct sponsored expenses for on-campus projects, and 26% for off-campus projects. The rate is applied to the sponsored project expenditures and generates campus funds known as RTF – Research Trust Funds.

How the revenue (RTF) generated through the F & A rate is allocated

F & A Recovery is divided up as follows: 70% goes directly to the campus central budget to cover research related expenses.  The remaining 30% is split evenly between the PI, his/her department, and his/her college/school.  These funds may be carried over fiscal years.

Effort Reporting and PIs responsibilities

The campus requires that each principal investigator certify their reported effort spent on sponsored activity, as required by federal OMB circular A-21, as follows:

  • A Personnel Action Form(s) is completed for each employee, containing the pertinent financial information, based on the planned effort distribution.  This information is collected in the University’s Human Resources System, which is directly fed into the Financial System.
  • Significant changes in work activity are identified on an ongoing basis and adjustments are made to the effort distribution and charges to reflect the changes.
  • An annual statement is certified by a responsible official each fall, verifying that the work was performed, stating that the salary charges are reasonable in relation to the work performed, with amendments noted.

UMA has implemented ECRT, a web-based tool for effort reporting, for better control and compliance with these important regulations. UMA ECRT is administered by the Financial and Cost Analysis department and has been utilized for annual effort certification by all key personnel on grants and contracts since fiscal year 2009.

Access to ECRT and related training information is available on the ECRT website. Financial & Cost Analysis staff provides online training as well as classroom sessions for PI’s and departmental staff. Drop-in assistance is also available as needed. For questions or assistance with ECRT please contact the help desk at 5-2119.

Administration & Finance Websites