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Weinberg Heads Panel on Indirect Costs

Provost Mark S. Wrighton has convened an ad hoc committee to advise him on the opinions of faculty and research staff concerning existing indirect cost regulations and their possible revision.

The committee chair, Professor Robert A. Weinberg, said in a letter to faculty and staff members that Professor Wrighton "wishes to develop a position for the Institute that accurately represents the thinking of those who will be directly affected by any future changes in these regulations."

In his letter, Dr. Weinberg, a member of the Whitehead Institute and professor of biology, noted that the issues surrounding indirect costs of research funding, including the cost of graduate student tuition, "have become increasingly acute over the past year."

Currently, government auditing agencies are reported to be preparing claims against a number of universities, including MIT, for indirect research payments the government is now challenging.

"Some of the long-standing formulae for calculating indirect cost rates have come under intense scrutiny," Dr. Weinberg said in his letter dated January 3, "and it now appears these formulae may be the subject of renegotiation between cognizant federal agencies and research universities in the coming months."

Dr. Weinberg noted that indirect costs represent a major component of the cost of doing research at MIT, amounting to $89 million on the campus in fiscal year 1991.

"Accordingly," he said, "changes in the formulae for calculating indirect costs can have major effects on the Institute's viability as a research university."

Dr. Weinberg said the Ad Hoc Faculty Administration Committee on Indirect Costs and Graduate Student Tuition would work intensively in the first months of 1992 in order to develop an overall position by March.

He said the committee would benefit greatly from the comments and opinions of community members, and he urged them to contact committee members with their views on any aspect of indirect costs and graduate student tuition.

Other committee members are:

Professor Jonathan Allen, director of the Research Laboratory for Electronics; Professor Suzanne D. Berger, head of the Department of Political Science; Dean Robert J. Birgeneau of the School of Science; Professor Sylvia T. Ceyer, Department of Chemistry; Professor Steven Dubowsky, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Dean Philip S. Khoury of the School of Humanities and Social Science; Professor J. David Litster, Vice President for Research; Deputy Dean Robert B. McKersie of the School of Management; Dean Joel Moses of the School of Engineering; Professor Ronald S. Parker, director of the Plasma Fusion Center; Dean Frank Perkins of the Graduate School;,and Anjalli Sastry, a graduate student. Ms. Doreen Morris, assistant to the provost, will staff the committee.

A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 18).

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