Scientific Cores/Service Centers Administrative Manual. Responsible Office: Associate Provost for Research. Introduction

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1 Scientific Cores/Service Centers Administrative Manual Responsible Office: Associate Provost for Research Introduction These guidelines provide investigators, core and administrative staff a framework for the administrative operations of shared research resources (referred to as cores, core services, or service centers ) at Boston University (BU). Cores provide access to technologies, services, and scientific consultation that enhance scientific interaction and productivity. Cores must provide a service in support of research, without requirement for collaboration or co-authorship. It is important that cores are administered in a consistent manner to ensure accessibility, stability, reliability, costeffectiveness, quality control and compliance with federal regulations, thereby enabling investigators, core and administrative staff to budget for and monitor core expenses and revenue. Please refer to the Service Center Finance and Accounting Manual for financial questions. Definition of a Core Many institutions use the following as their definition of cores: Core services are defined as those that are needed by many investigators to conduct their research, but are generally too expensive, complex or specialized for investigators to provide and sustain themselves. By this definition cores contribute to the body of knowledge generated. Cores are not dedicated to the work of a single research group or department, but should maintain equitable access to all investigators and be open for new business. They require actively involved scientific and managing directors who are able to interact with researchers and lab staff across a range of disciplines. Each core should also have dedicated space sufficient to provide the services identified. In general, services provided must be consistent with BU s mission and the core s purpose; these services must be unique and/or not widely available commercially from outside sources. Training and education should also be provided as part of each core s services. As with all core services, the cost of providing training or education must be charged to an appropriate source. In general, user fees must be based on the core s actual expenses and be reasonable and competitive when compared with other institutions or commercial companies offering similar services. Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 1 of 6

2 Cores are often grouped as: Institutional cores: referring to those facilities and services that exist to support basic, translational and/or clinical research by investigators across multiple departments and schools. School cores: referring to those facilities and services that are established to support the research of multiple departments within a specific school. The use of these cores may be restricted to faculty and staff of that school, or the core may be made available to users outside of the school. In such cases, the costs to faculty of the school may be additionally subsidized by the school. Center cores: referring to those facilities and services that are to support the research of faculty associated with a particular center. The use of these cores may be restricted to faculty and staff of that center, or may be made available to investigators outside of the center, as described for a School core. Departmental cores: referring to those facilities and services that are established to support the research of a narrowly defined group of investigators within a department that require the facility or services. The use of these cores may be restricted to faculty and staff of that department, or may be made more broadly available as described for School and Center cores. These guidelines refer to BU s Institutional cores but also provide appropriate guidance for the establishment of Departmental, Center and School cores. Information about BU s existing cores can be found on the Core Laboratories & Facilities website. Core Establishment and Approval A proposal for a new core includes both a scientific justification and business plan. Faculty are encouraged to engage the appropriate Provost s office (usually, the Associate Provost for Research) in early discussions of the scientific component to reduce the possibility of duplication of resources. The scientific justification should include: 1. The purpose of the core; 2. The rationale for why this service is best provided by a core; 3. Whether these services are provided elsewhere and, if so, why a new core should be established at BU/BUMC; 4. The estimated user base; and 5. Instrumentation required. Additional information should be submitted if it will useful for the Core Advisory Committee to have as the Committee determines whether to recommend the establishment of the new core to the Provost s Office. Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 2 of 6

3 In addition, the faculty should work with Service Center Administration in the development of the business plan. The Business Plan Template can be requested from the Service Center Administration. Institutional Core In the case of an Institutional core, once the scientific justification and business plan have been developed, the proposal is submitted to the Core Advisory Committee for review and approval. The Core Advisory Committee will review the proposal based on need, anticipated use, appropriateness of the recommended financial model (including any necessary anticipated subsidies), etc. Additional information may be required to come to a final recommendation. If the Core Advisory Committee is supportive of the establishment of the core, the positive recommendation is forwarded to the appropriate Provost s office for approval, as well as resolution and allocation of any anticipated subsidies required to support the core facility and/or make it financially competitive. At this time, the Scientific/Core Director may request an internally designated account from the Service Center Administration. If the Core Advisory Committee does not recommend a core for approval, the Committee will provide feedback allowing for a resubmittal in some cases. If the Core Advisory Committee does not recommend approval of a core as an Institutional core, the core may still be considered for approval as a School, Center, or Departmental core. School, Center, and Departmental Cores The establishment of these cores requires the development of a business plan before they can be established. Faculty are strongly encouraged to develop a proposal and submit it to the Core Advisory Committee for review and recommendation, as this helps this Committee have the broadest possible understanding of the available cores at the University. The establishment of a School, Center, or Departmental core is subject to the agreement and approval of the appropriate Dean, Center Director or Department Chair. These administrative units also assume financial responsibility for any deficits incurred by these cores. Principles of Management and Oversight The oversight of cores ultimately lies within the Offices of the Provost at BU Medical Campus (BUMC) and in the University Provost s office at the Charles River Campus although it is generally delegated to the appropriate Associate Provost of Research. In addition to the roles and responsibilities of the Associate Provost of Research there are other key individuals and Committees that play an important role in the success of the cores. These include: Core Advisory Committee Core User Committee Scientific/Core Director Service Center Administration Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 3 of 6

4 In addition, informal input may come from any research center providing financial support to a core and all users are encouraged to provide feedback regarding the scientific direction and administration of a shared resource. Core Advisory Committee While each core offers unique expertise, services and/or products to researchers, BU strives for a common management philosophy fundamentally dedicated to supporting high-quality scientific investigation. This management philosophy is actualized through the work of the core Advisory Committee which ensures that fair and consistent standards are used in the creation, maintenance, and termination process of each core. The Advisory Committee is composed of faculty with a broad view of the research enterprise as well as representatives from Post Award Financial Operations and financial/administrative representatives of the schools on the appropriate campus. The appropriate Associate Provost for Research serves on the Committee as an ex officio member. The membership is approved by the Provost or his/her designee. This Committee acts in an advisory capacity to the Associate Provost for Research. It is responsible for: Reviewing and approving all requests for new cores for scientific quality and need, and assigning a priority for allocation of resources prior to submittal to the Associate Provost for approval; Ensuring that faculty have a voice in the development of new services and that Scientific/Core Directors are held accountable to the faculty; Advising on standards and requirements for the core designation, continued operations and termination; Providing a mechanism to recommend termination of core operations in whole or in part when necessary, as when usage has diminished or the same high-quality service becomes available through commercial sources at lower cost; Completing competitive reviews of the funding applications received from the various cores (for equipment and bridge funding needs) and assigning a priority; Reviewing annual reports of the Core User s Committee and evaluating quality of existing cores; Performing periodic reviews of the cores to determine their viability and continued need; and, Forwarding its reviews and recommendations to the Associate Provost for Research. Core User Committee The Core User Committee is the deliberative body that assists and advises the Scientific/Core Director in the development of needs justification, services and service levels, and policies. The Core User Committee should also review the core s business plan and operating budget proposal prior to review by the Core Advisory Committee. Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 4 of 6

5 The Core User Committee membership includes faculty representatives who have been identified as users of the services and, in some cases, a representative of central administration. The Core User Committee should be composed of both large and small users of the core, and is often recommended by the faculty group who initially proposed the development of the core. Ultimately, the Associate Provost for Research and the Core Advisory Committee approve the membership of the Core User Committee. This Committee is responsible for: Conducting annual evaluations of current cores. Annual evaluations will ensure that cores meet both scientific and fiscal expectations and continue to add value to the BU research community; Reviewing operations, use, support, instrumentation, and shared instrumentation grants; and, Recommending to the Core Advisory Committee the closure of a core, or changes in services that do not meet established goals and may advise investment in new instrumentation and/or new core services that are deemed of sufficient value to the scientific community. Scientific/Core (Service Center) Director Usually a faculty member serves in this capacity on a part-time basis. In some cases, a dedicated Scientific/Core Director may be hired. The Core Advisory Committee and the Associate Provost for Research approve the appointment of the Director. This individual is responsible for the overall scientific management of the operations of the specific core and for: Developing an overall plan for the proposed core; Expanding, downsizing, and/or closing in order to ensure a match between ore facility capabilities and the strategic scientific mission; Reviewing and updating the long-range plans ensuring coordination between individual core plans and the core s scientific mission; Comparing the core to peer institutions resources through benchmarking studies; Analyzing the facility operating metrics; Identifying external funding opportunities and assisting faculty in obtaining external support for research infrastructure; Developing a space planning process as it relates to the implementation of the overall plan; Reviewing outsourcing opportunities, presenting recommendations and implementing decisions; Assessing the impact of developing technologies on current facility operations and presenting the recommendations; Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 5 of 6

6 Developing a budget and conducting a resource analysis with assistance from Service Center Administration; Maintaining expertise in the use of the facility and being available for assistance with planning experiments; Overseeing other personnel in the core, possibly including a technical director, and technician; Overseeing the review and improvement of operational performance; Overseeing policy development; Reporting annually to the Advisory Committee on the activities of the core including use, publications and grants, finances, and future needs; Making accurate estimations of staffing, operating expenses, service volumes; Completing recharge calculation templates and generating service delivery rates, together with Service Center Administration (see below); and Ensuring that all expenses and revenues are reviewed and deemed appropriate. Service Center Administration Service Center Administration is an office within Post Award Financial Operations and is responsible for: Assisting the Scientific/Core Director in the business planning process including rate calculation, 3-year breakeven budget and volume projections which are then referred to the Core Advisory Committee; Developing, reviewing and approving business plans, budget and rates submission; Ensuring that Scientific/Core Directors monitor fund balances on a regular basis; Assisting Scientific/Core Directors in financial compliance with federal regulation, applicable sponsor and institutional policies; Conducting reviews of cores to ensure compliance with federal regulations; and Conducting an annual review of the expenses, income and adjustment of budgets and rates as appropriate. Core Administrative Manual 2010 Page 6 of 6

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