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Stimulus package added $8,000 to research grant costs

The economic stimulus package enacted into law in February 2009 enabled college and university faculties to receive funding for critical initiatives and novel research areas, but contained expensive new administrative requirements, according to a survey.

The 100 institutions that responded to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) survey reported incurring additional administrative costs of nearly $8,000 per research grant. The stimulus regulations did not provide funding to pay colleges and universities for the cost of complying with the extra requirements.

About one-third of institutions responding to the survey reported increasing staffing to assist in complying with the stimulus act requirements.

For institutions able to increase staffing, the average numbers of staff added ranged from 3 to 3.3 full-time employees. Most of the new positions were tasked with quarterly reporting obligations and award processing.

FDP—a group of federal agencies, academic research institutions, and research policy organisations—will publish a full report from its survey in later this month.

The Association of American Universities pointed out that the FDP survey findings were significant in light of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, which would extend most of the reporting requirements in the stimulus package to federal research grants and contracts not funded with stimulus money.