Part IV - Charge-out rates
Section G: Other Charge-out rates
Chapter G.1 Laboratory technicians
- Where technical staff work directly with researchers or in support of their
rooms or equipment on laboratory projects, costs should be
directly charged to projects no later than 1 August 2007. (I.e. estates
charges or indirect cost rates based on 2006/07 costs should not include
these items, and they should be charged directly to all
relevant projects from 1 February 2008.)
- The direct charges will be of either of two types:
- if the staff are dedicated
to a project, and/or project timesheets will be completed, these costs should be
charged as they are incurred (on the basis of those timesheets);
- if the staff are part of a
shared or pooled team, an appropriate part of these staff costs should be
directly allocated to all projects. A charge-out rate, such as £ per
academic/research staff, is used for this.
- Staff who are shared between projects, or part of a pooled team, (ii) above,
- working on several projects. Where it would be inappropriate for
them to complete timesheets – if they did, they could be treated as a directly
incurred cost – their costs should be directly allocated
- providing services to laboratories including in health and safety, storeroom/supplies,
hazardous materials handling, laboratory equipment maintenance, carpentry
or in administration. Again this time should be
directly allocated to projects.
- All of the time of the staff in (a) and (b) should be
directly allocated, including an appropriate part of their general duties,
administration, supervision, etc. To this should be
added any support time of technicians completing timesheets which is then
not being charged as a DI cost to projects ((i) in the paragraph above). Staff
costs can be grouped for the purposes of making the charge; and types of
staff or individuals need not be identified.
- The estimated costs of shared, pool, or directly allocated, staff should be
recorded as a cost against each appropriate project periodically throughout
the project life. The charges applied to each project need not be updated
during the project life (except for the annual indexing built into the original
estimate), unless there is a substantial change to the programme of work.
- It is good practice for these dedicated technician staff to be charged
to projects earlier than August 2007.
- Actual time spent on supporting each project need not
be recorded. However, it is good practice periodically to survey total
time spent supporting a group of projects, on a sample basis, to provide
data that can be used to establish the standard charge-out rates for pool
staff in their support of different types of project (and activity).
- It is good practice for institutions to produce costing schedules that
provide a simple guide to the levels of costs that might be appropriate to
charge for different types of project.
- Estates charges and indirect cost rates should not be
applied to the time of technician and Support staff, when calculating the
estates and indirect cost totals for a project.
Identifying the costs of directly allocated technicians
- The total costs of laboratory technicians should be established
and directly charged. These costs should therefore
be excluded from estates costs, no later than 1 August 2007.
- The minimum requirement focuses on types of technician who are in laboratory
departments but are not in non-laboratory departments. However, institutions
can define technicians in a more inclusive way if that is more useful to
them. They can be:
- specific staff or posts of technicians who are in laboratory departments,
but not generally in non-laboratory departments;
- all technicians in laboratory departments; or
- all technicians in both laboratory and non-laboratory departments (different
charge-out rates would then be required for each type of department) e.g.
- Institutions can use their own definitions for the purpose of classifying
which technicians are to be directly allocated. However, it is good
practice to ensure that the chosen definition minimises complexity and burden
in implementation. The same definition should be used
across all relevant departments and all projects.
- Only technicians in academic departments need be directly allocated, not
those in central support departments such as occupational health, estates,
- Several institutions are carrying out surveys to establish the number,
type, and activities, of ‘technicians’ in order to inform their
TRAC allocation and charges. An example of this, provided by a pilot institution,
is given in Annex 17. This provides an
example of emerging good practice, but is more than the minimum required
- A simpler method of establishing the technicians’ costs which are
to be directly allocated is as follows:
take the total costs of technicians allocated to Research (excluding DI costs) for
non-laboratory departments, and the equivalent figure for laboratory departments.
divide each by the relevant Research FTEs (Research time of academics,
research staff and PGRs included at the estates weightings of 0.5 and 0.8)
to arrive at a cost per FTE.
resulting in a laboratory cost per FTE which would normally be
higher than that of the non-laboratory cost.
The difference in the cost per FTE would then
be multiplied by the Research FTEs in laboratory departments:
providing a notional cost of the ‘extra’ technicians
in laboratory departments from those in non-laboratory departments. It
is this figure that would then be excluded from estates charges and directly
allocated, at least from 1 August 2007. It is then good practice (but
not a minimum requirement) to identify the types of technicians that fall into
this category of ‘laboratory technicians’.
Directly allocating laboratory technicians’ costs to projects
- When directly allocating laboratory technicians’ costs to projects,
again a number of methods could be used:
- identification of the respective levels of input required for equipment-intensive
(or otherwise defined) projects, compared with other projects, and allocating
technicians’ costs in a way that reflects this differential level of
use. This could be through:
- the use of standard £ costs chargeable to each project of a defined
- identifying a technician cost per technician hour (as described in the
laboratory technicians’ example shown in Annex
17) and charging different numbers of technicians’ hours to each
type of project;
- a simpler method, where a standard charge expressed as a £ per academic/research
staff FTE would be applied. This would have ‘fallen out’ of
the simpler method described above as ‘the difference in the cost per
- Irrespective of the methods used, institutions should ensure
- they can verify the time that is being charged as directly incurred – either
technicians (and other staff) are wholly dedicated to a project, or they
complete project-level timesheets that are used to charge their time. These should be
at least quarterly and it is good practice for them to be countersigned by
an appropriate manager;
- their methods are not so complex that they are in danger of under-recovering
- there is no double-charging of technicians in the two categories of directly
incurred costs and directly allocated costs;
- as well as attributing laboratory technicians’ costs of Research
to externally funded Research projects, they are also attributed to institution-/own-funded
research and PGR activity. If laboratory technicians, for example,
are being charged to projects on a £/FTE basis, then the FTEs used
to calculate that rate would normally have taken PGR students into account. In
that case laboratory technicians’ costs would be allocated to PGR student
activity through application of the charge-out rate onto the PGR FTE.
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