General RC/SSF operating principles should be evaluated on an ongoing basis to help ensure the following general RC/SSF facility best practices are applied. Again, the policies will be helpful in this evaluation and can be found here for recharge centers or here for specialized service centers.
- The costs of providing service are allowable, allocable, consistently applied and reasonable
- The rates established to recover these costs are documented and systematically evaluated against actual cost and revised on a regular basis to reflect actual costs (see Uniform Guidance CFR, Section 200.648). Analyzing revenue and expenditures at least quarterly is suggested
- These rates are charged to all users on a consistent basis, regardless of funding source(s) and employing a principle of “one service, one rate”
Recharge centers operate on a Washington University fiscal year basis, with rates based on budgeted projections of operating expenses and projected levels of service/products to be provided. Per Washington University policy, all recharge centers will calculate rates annually. It is advantageous to time rate adjustments in such a manner to allow service users to incorporate anticipated increases into their budget projections.
- Provide updated rate schedule based on annual final cost analysis
- Review rates in terms of costs, volume and, market considerations
- If applicable, review level of subsidies and also adjust as needed
The recharge centers must be able to support audit requests and show satisfactory accounting, budgeting, and management control. To accomplish this, the RC/SSF mangers must maintain, at a minimum, the following:
a. Work papers supporting rate calculations
b. Work papers supporting use or level of activity projections
c. Billing records identifying services provided to each user
Operating costs may not equal revenue in a given year for a variety of reasons, including variances between expected and actual volume, but they must be equalized over an extended period of time, currently defined at Washington University as a five year rolling period for a deficit unless an exception is granted and three years for a surplus. Occasionally, a RC/SSF, may find it necessary to establish rates at less than full cost, but in no circumstance may revenue exceed cost over an extended period. RC/SSF managers much review and adjust rates at least annually to prevent recovering more than the cost of operations over a period of time. This analysis must include consideration of the accumulated surplus or deficit balance from previous years.
Specialized service facilities and recharge centers should identify rooms as recharge space by checking the recharge box on the edit room screen in WebSpace. If the center is supported with federal and/or other sponsored award funding, the space associated with those funding sources should be coded as organized research (82), or other functions as applicable, and the remaining space should be identified as recharge center space.
High Risk Areas to Review Annually
- Review billing rates for accumulated surplus and deficit fund balances
- Ensure billing rates represent actual costs
- Ensure that duplicate or unallowable costs (see Uniform Guidance CFR, Section 200.648) are not included in the calculation of billing rates
- Ensure funds in the recharge center account are not used for unrelated purposes
- Ensure users are billed at established standard rates and that all subsidies are documented
Annual Reporting by Cost Analysis
Annually, within six months of fiscal year end, Cost Analysis will provide to the recharge center administrator a multi-year (the lesser of since inception or five years) report of activity conducted by each recharge center as recorded in the University’s accounting system, including applicable equipment depreciation. In addition, Cost Analysis will provide a summary report of recharge center activity conducted by each school to the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Chief Financial Officer of the school for his/her review and assessment of compliance with this policy. The reporting by Cost Analysis shall be the official record of surplus/deficit generated by operations of the recharge center on a cumulative basis determined in accordance with OMB’s Uniform Guidance. Cost Analysis will alert the recharge center administrator when it has generated a surplus and advise that the administrator is required by university policy to absorb the surplus generated from sales to federally supported activities in the center’s rate calculation within a reasonable time period not to exceed three years.