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ANR develops cost-recovery strategy to improve REC facilities

UC ANR leadership is proud of its outstanding network of nine Research and Extension Centers across the state. Including academic salaries and temporary funding, UC ANR invests close to $14 million annually in the REC system. We are committed to continuing to make an investment of this magnitude, recognizing the importance of each individual REC, and the REC system to our research and extension missions. 

A freeze on state operations and maintenance funding since 2006, and a virtual absence of deferred maintenance funds, necessitates a close look at how the annual investment is used so as to position the RECs for a long, successful future. UC ANR leadership is taking the long view to its programmatic collaboration and growth. As a result, we are developing a strategy for cost recovery to continue to operate and improve the facilities so that we can better serve researchers and their research and extension activities – well into the next decade, not just the next three to five years.

Key attributes of the strategy include:

  • Improved clarity of how full-cost research rates are calculated and how researcher costs are derived, based on a researcher's specific and agreed upon needs for labor and facilities
  • Establishment of rates four to six months in advance of the effective date for the rate (i.e. rates published in January for projects beginning in July, or some variation thereof) in recognition of the need to project costs in advance of research start date
  • Development of a cost structure that reflects different project needs and differences in costs required to support the needs
  • Ability to confirm researcher costs for specific, itemized research needs over a multi-year timeframe at time of proposal submission to a funding agency

A move to this new way of calculating research rates will take some time to establish across all nine RECs. Our goal is to have this rolled out between January and March 2018 and to go into effect for any projects (new, renewed or expanded usage) beginning July 1, 2018. This is an ambitious goal given the review and approval process in place that ensures fairness of proposed methodology and charges. However, we are committed to making this a high priority in order to improve the research experience.

To assess feasibility of the approach, the Desert REC will move to a new model in the very near term and serve as a pilot study for the July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 timeframe. The new model includes different rates for different services (land, water, pesticides, labor, etc.). The new model applies at Desert REC for both new and continuing projects and provides the opportunity to identify any issues early on and make the necessary adjustments. The remaining RECs will develop research rates for REC services over the next few months and the new model will be refined and adapted in 2018-2019 for the remaining eight RECs.

For 2017-2018, researchers continuing projects at all RECs, except Desert REC and West Side REC, should plan on an additional 10 percent to their 2016-2017 research rate to cover increases in salaries and benefit rates and reflect a reduced subsidy by center funds applied to the full cost rate. New and renewed projects will be billed at a researcher rate of $27.46 per hour. A new project is one that has not been submitted to, and approved by, the REC previously. This higher rate reflects the need to reduce the subsidy applied to the full cost rate.

Researchers at West Side REC will be billed at a rate 10 percent above the 2016-2017 West Side REC research rate for all projects.

Developing a new strategy for setting research rates based on different rates for different services will take time, thus the decision to move forward as outlined above. The pilot assessment at Desert REC will illustrate the impacts of a new strategy on both researchers and business operations and help identify best practices to support the transition to a new strategy. We are committed to maintaining a system of RECs that are positioned to address present and emerging research needs for the long term and meet the planning needs of researchers.

Research and Extension Center

New projects and projects renewed at the end of the 3-year cycle

Continuing projects (2nd and 3rd year)

Desert REC

Charges based on services utilized (acreage, water, labor etc.)

West Side

2016-17 rate + 10%

2016-17 rate + 10%

Hansen, Hopland, Intermountain, Kearney, Lindcove, Sierra Foothill, South Coast

$27.46

2016-17 rate + 10%

Wendy Powers 
Associate Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 12:07 PM

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