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Question about NFS grants

  1. Jul 28, 2009 #1
    Hey,
    So I work the systems support for some university departments, and the amount of funding we get from one of the departments is in no way proportional to the amount of support we give them (they easily take up 3/5ths of our time and resources, but give maybe 1/4 of our funds). I've heard this is because there are rules about NFS grants that forbid money being spent on servicing equipment. Out of curiosity is this true? At all? Does anyone work at a university where the Systems support folks don't get screwed? How do they manage it?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2009 #2

    Wax

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    I don't believe grants are regulated by the government. You'd have to check your university policy on grants and funding if you want more information. Basically what I'm saying is, the university can do whatever they want with the money and it's not illegal. Best thing you can do is ask the person in charge of the grant and tell them that you and your coworkers don't feel compensated for the work you're doing. They might give you a raise.

    Let me give you an example. Only the recent bailed out companies that received massive funds are regulated in terms of salaries and the regulation only refers to bonuses. Top CEOs are not allowed to give themselves large bonuses if they used public funds to prop up their company. However, your university doesn't qualify as a bailed out company. There lots of times the government overpays for products that they purchase but there is nothing you can do to stop it. Wasteful spending happens at all levels of government funded projects because it's not regulated. Have you been watching Fox news lately? You'll see a lot of wasteful spending examples if you watch Hannity on Fox news.

    In summary, the person who got the grant from the government is in charge. You have to talk to him about it.


    Edit: The only aspect of a grant that is probably regulated is the part that you have to do what you say you claim to do. As in, if you say you're going to upgrade the computer systems at a university then you must do it. However, the federal government doesn't have a say in how much employees should earn off of the grant. That is left up to the person who got the grant.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
  4. Jul 28, 2009 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    What is an NFS grant?
     
  5. Jul 28, 2009 #4

    Wax

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    I'm assuming it means grants for computer systems, Network File System. The OP said he works for system support services and he talked about upgrading systems at a university so that was my conclusion.
     
  6. Jul 28, 2009 #5

    HallsofIvy

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    I assumed that "NFS" was a typo for "NSF"- National Science Foundation.
     
  7. Jul 28, 2009 #6
    HallsofIvy has it right, turns out I'm a horrible typist and had spent much of earlier today ranting about NSF mounts being broken :)
     
  8. Jul 28, 2009 #7

    Wax

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    Here's a good link. Turns out you can report fraud or wasted spending. I wouldn't be hasty to report if you didn't have proof though.

    http://www.nsf.gov/oig/misconscieng.jsp




    Here's a professor who's in trouble with the Feds.
    http://www.ibtimes.com/blogs/articles/1149/20090226/uf-professor-samim-anghaie-and-wife-accused-of-defrauding-nasa.htm [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jul 29, 2009 #8

    Andy Resnick

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    There are many different flavors of NSF grants:

    http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf09_29/index.jsp
    http://www.nsf.gov/funding/preparing/types.jsp?org=NSF [Broken]

    In general, NSF does not provide 12-month salary support to the PI, nor does it provide funds for:
    'NSF does not normally support technical assistance, pilot plant efforts, research requiring security classification, the development of products for commercial marketing, or market research for a particular project or invention. Research with disease-related goals, including ...'

    Unfortunately, that's a very normal aspect of government-funded research. Honestly, as academia starts to apply "total cost accounting" (or whatever equivalent buzzword you choose), chairs, deans, and provosts are not able to shuffle around funds like they used to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jul 29, 2009 #9
    Really, I was reading things last night, and it would seem that maintenance of the equipment could fall under an indirect cost, or was I misreading?
     
  11. Jul 29, 2009 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    Indirect costs are money I pay to my institution for the priviledge of working on my research project- i.e., rent. Once upon a time, a fraction of that indirect cost was returned by the Dean to the Department, but that happens less and less as money dries up. The Dean gets the indirect to spend as she wishes.

    Maintainance of equipment that I use is considered a direct cost, and rightly so. Core facilities charge 'user fees' to cover maintainance (service contracts, consumables, techs, etc) costs.
     
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