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TO: Carolina Campus
FROM: Andy Johns, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
RE: Change to Operating Model for Facilities & Administrative (F&A)
Funds Sharing for Collaborative Projects

Research and scholarship at UNC-Chapel Hill are highly collaborative and multi- disciplinary endeavors, and the University has long been a national leader in fostering research partnerships. However, university approaches to the sharing of F&A funds have not always aligned with the collaborative research environment. The operating change articulated below is intended to ensure that F&A funds are automatically shared fairly and appropriately among parties substantively contributing to a collaborative project in a manner that reflects the contributions of each party.


The University generally distributes a fraction of F&A receipts recovered from a research project to units that administer or substantively contribute to the execution of that project. These funds are critical to the financial viability of the academic and research units across the University, but they have traditionally been distributed only to the unit that is administering a project, even though collaborators and/or contributors on the project may have primary academic appointments in other departments or schools. Most academic and research units have developed their own unofficial formulas for sharing some portion of recovered F&A with the home unit of Principal Investigators (PIs) when projects are being administered in a different unit. These formulas vary from school to school or center to center and often must be separately negotiated for each project awarded.

Change to Operating Model

In order to eliminate confusion and potential conflict, effective November 15, 2022, the University will require that F&A sharing arrangements for funded collaborative projects be documented via the RAMSeS F&A Sharing Portal. Further, at the end of each fiscal year, the University will calculate and distribute F&A to academic and research units based upon the arrangements documented in the RAMSeS Sharing Portal and approved for each sponsored project. This does not represent a change in F&A Sharing Policy but rather a change in how sharing arrangements are documented and implemented.

F&A Sharing arrangements will be defined and approved at the time of award by all units deemed to be substantively contributing to the execution of a sponsored project. Units providing substantive contributions are defined as:

  1. The administering unit for the collaborative project.
  2. The appointing unit of the Principal Investigator (PI).
  3. The appointing unit of any EHRA Faculty or EHRA Non-Faculty Co-Investigators that will contribute effort to the collaborative project.
  4. Any unit that will provide core services to a project that are not based on a recharge model.
  5. Any unit that is providing space (beyond PI, co-PI or co-I offices) for use by the collaborative project.

F&A Sharing arrangements will be defined for each competitive segment of a funded project and will apply for all years of that competitive segment. F&A Sharing arrangements can apply equally to all Peoplesoft Project IDs created for a competitive segment or units can define unique sharing arrangements for individual Peoplesoft Project IDs. Existing MOUs that address F&A Sharing between units may still be honored, but those arrangements must be documented in the F&A Sharing Portal. Note that sponsored projects that exist prior to November 15 will be ‘grandfathered in’ and the F&A Sharing agreement will be automatically set for the administering unit to receive the full 15.6%, consistent with historical practice.

Upon receipt of a collaborative award, the administering unit of a project will be notified via email of the need to login to the RAMSeS F&A Sharing portal to document the sharing arrangements for all parties. The administering unit is responsible for coordinating with all contributing units to reach agreement on F&A sharing terms. Upon completing documentation of the F&A sharing arrangements for all contributing units, all units that are deemed to be substantively contributing to the execution of a funded project will be required to electronically approve such arrangements through the RAMSeS F&A Sharing portal. Only if all contributing parties approve the F&A sharing plan will F&A recovered from that project be distributed to units.

In the event that contributing units cannot agree on F&A sharing arrangements, the departmental share (15.6%) of F&A generated from that project will be held in reserve until such dispute can be resolved. Disputes that are wholly contained within a single School or College will be arbitrated by the Dean’s office of the School or College. Disputes that involve units spanning multiple Schools or the College will be arbitrated by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

F&A will be distributed at the end of each fiscal year to units based on project-specific plans documented and approved in the RAMSeS F&A Sharing Portal. F&A for each earning unit will be distributed through that unit’s dean’s office. Note that individual Schools and the College may have specific policies which entitle the dean to retain a share of a unit’s earned F&A to cover costs including but not limited to space, infrastructure, faculty startup costs and general support.

Training for the new F&A Sharing Portal will be located in the ‘Training’ section of RAMSeS. Please direct any questions about implementation of this policy to Andy Johns, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research.

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