Double dippin'

May 29 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

Who ever came up with the accounting system for grants was either a genius or a crook. Maybe both. I spent a lot of yesterday deal with the budget I am putting together for one of my grant proposals. In said grant, I am budgeting a sub-contract so that a student can live at a tropical field station for a year (any takers?). The field station, as a place of research, has an overhead rate that gets charged to any subcontract. Their rate is 55.01% (why the .01, I have no clue). So, the breakdown of costs there goes something like this.

Room 575/month = $6900
food 30/day = $10950
Total = $17850

Field station overhead (55.01%) = $9820
Total with O/H = $27,670

Fair enough, but wait! It gets better. Because the money is being paid as a sub-contract through Employment U, they want their cut too. Do you think that they take O/H on just the cost of room and board? No way. They take O/H on the whole amount, including the field station O/H. Well, because it's a sub-contract only $25K is eligible for O/H, but they are still taking overhead on another institution's overhead. If we do the math on that, it looks like this:

Employment U O/H (49%, but only on the first $25K of a subcontract) = $12,250
GRAND total = $39,920

So, in order to spend $17850 of fed money to pay for room and board, we have to spend $39,920, or 124% more than the original cost. Gotta love academic finances.

8 responses so far

  • Toaster Sunshine says:

    Whoa, wait: $30 for food a day!? Where do I apply?

  • Odyssey says:

    Yup, that's how the whole subcontract thing works here too. It's a huge disincentive to using subcontracts and thereby impedes collaboration as well as situations such as yours.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Toaster, sorry but the money goes to the field station, not the student. Three home-cooked meals a day, though. Odyssey, you would think the feds would ask that O/H only be taken on the original amount, at the very least. Of course, the government wrote the book on double dipping...

  • tideliar says:

    Everytime I want to rant about how corrupt and fucked up the system is, I remember it's a fed system. We only took the corruption from the corruptors, as it were. If they *want* us to waste tax payer money keeping hundreds of pointless beaurocrats employed at each school...well, who are we to complain?!

  • Unbalanced Reaction says:

    Wow, must be some GOOD home-cooked meals! Geez, that's more than my per diem.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    More than mine too, but food isn't cheap at field sites. But, if you really want to be sick keep in mind that it's $30/day plus 55.01%, plus 49% of that. If you calculate that out you come up with $69.29 per day. Now that's a fucking per diem!

  • Mad Hatter says:

    Sad part is that people I know who work in the business world would consider $30/day to be an unbelievably stingy meal allowance!

  • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Try the movie industry, they get that much for breakfast when they're on location 😉

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