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FICR 2012-2013

McMaster's outcomes report provides qualitative and quantitative information on how we have invested our Indirect Costs grants for 2012-2013

Federal Indirect Cost of Research Program at McMaster University

Calculation of grant

In 2012/13 McMaster University received $11,958,765 from the Federal Indirect Costs of Research (FICR) Program. All post-secondary Institutions in Canada receive a share of the pool of funds based on each individual Institution’s three year average of awarded Tri-Council funding*. The 2012/13 grant was therefore calculated using data from 2010/11, 2009/10 and 2008/09.  As can be seen, there is quite a lag between the receipt of the indirect cost grant and the spending of project funds.

The total Canadian pool was again $332m in 2012/13and provided indirect costs at a rate of roughly19.6% of most Tri-Council projects.(Some specific programs do not pay indirect costs and institutions are made aware if this at the application stage.) McMaster received 3.59% of the pool. The FICR program supports the costs of heat, hydro, research accountants, assistance with research applications, the health physics office, support for central facilities such as the central animal facilities, library acquisitions, computing services and such. The details of this program can be found at

Use of Funds

In an attempt to ensure that "researchers, students, communities and elected officials" are aware of this program and know how these funds are used by their respective Institutions, we have been asked to post this report on our website annually. The federal government requests that we report the use of funds by five categories: Facilities; Resources; Management and Administration; Regulatory Requirements; and Intellectual Property. Facilities expenditures include the cost of renovating labs, salaries for technicians and the utility costs for research labs. Research Resources include the cost of library acquisitions, operating costs for non-facility areas, insurance on research vehicles, etc. Management and Administrative costs include expenses to provide researchers with grant writing assistance, research accounting services, promotional expenses, audit costs,etc.  Regulatory requirements include the costs of upgrades and upkeep of animal facilities, the management of ethics boards, the Health Physics office and other compliance type offices. Intellectual property expenses include the cost of tech-transfer offices and the support of technology licensing. 

Below is a pie chart which illustrates how the funds were used in 2012/13 at McMaster.

It is widely known that the allocated amount of FICR funds does not cover the full indirect costs of research. These funds do, however, provide for some laboratory renovations, support for grant applications, research accounting, the purchase of library resources, support for the health physics office and the high performance computing office as well as local administrative and facilities support.

Distribution of FICR funds

The FICR Program began in 2003. At that time, it was agreed that the distribution of funds was to be according to a formula which was developed by the Chair of Budget Committee, the Vice President Research and the Associate Dean Research, Health Sciences. The first step in the formula is to determine the hospital share. The remaining funds are roughly split 40% to the central University budget, 10% to the Libraries, 25% collectively to the individual Faculties and 25% to the VP Research and International Affairs. The VP Research and International Affairs uses a portion of his funds to provide for faculty member needs, another portion of the allocation is used for start-up of strategic initiatives. In addition the central budget transfers some of their funds to the libraries to offset the costs of acquisitions for both the Health Sciences Libraries and the non-Health Sciences Libraries. At the time that this split was determined the grant was only $700k per annum. Note that our affiliated hospitals receive a significant share ofthe grant allotted to McMaster University. Some caution should be exercised while looking at these numbers. The distribution of funds should not be reviewed outside the context of the distribution of financial obligations. 



*Tri-Council refers to the federal government's three granting agencies:

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