MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Office of Sponsored Programs

For fiscal year 1995, the total volume of sponsored research performed on campus was $361,688,791. This represents an increase of .05 percent over fiscal 1994 volume of $359,674,254. The breakdown by sponsor is shown in the table below.

Federally funded research volume increase by 1.0 percent over 1994. Department of Defense funding was down by 10.3 percent (following a decrease the previous year of 7.7 percent) and National Science Foundation funding by 2.5 percent. Increases included the Department of Health and Human Services at 1.5 percent, the Department of Energy by 6.2 percent, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by 10 percent.

Of the non-Federal sponsors, industrial funding decreased by 5.1 percent, following a decrease of 4.8 percent in the previous year. However, support from private foundations and other non-profit sponsors increased this year by 11.7 percent, following a 7.3 percent decrease in 1994. It should be noted that sponsorship characterized as non-Federal may, nonetheless, involve Federal funds when MIT receives a subaward from an industrial or non-profit sponsor which has a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract from the Federal government.


(in thousands of dollars)

FEDERAL               1988  1989     1990     1991        1992     1993  1994     1995     

DHHS           $    49,070   52,565   57,915   59,025   60,177   64,882   60,192   61,066  
DOE            $    55,629   54,045   61,098   60,625   57,355   57,325   63,180   67,114  
DOD            $    46,836   47,921   51,158   49,104   48,539   66,769   61,601   55,866  
NSF            $    39,177   38,962   38,093   37,953   36,574   38,008   39,574   38,564  
NASA           $    12,509   15,256   18,469   22,755   25,889   32,324   37,449   41,291  
Other          $     7,283    6,713    7,430    8,647    9,773    8,899    8,722    9,641  

Subtotal       $   210,504  215,462  234,163  238,109  238,307  268,206  270,718  273,542  


Industry       $    35,315   41,937   46,223   48,360   53,578   62,068   59,117   56,120  
Nonprofit      $    19,779   23,602   25,220   23,751   24,920   25,593   23,666   26,430  
Other          $     3,796    4,727    5,053    5,599    5,461    5,487    6,173    5,597  

Subtotal       $    58,890   70,266   76,496   77,710   83,959   93,148   88,956   88,147  
                    ______  ______   ______   ______    ______   ______  ______   ______   

TOTAL          $   269,394  285,728  310,660  315,819  322,267  361,354  359,674  361,689  


Activities in the Office of Sponsored Programs during 1994-1995 were impacted in two distinct arenas: externally by ongoing policy issues related to federal funding of research and internally by the appointment of a new director and reorganizations and new emphases on computerization and automation within the office. Each of these is described below:

Federal Initiatives

Indirect Cost Issues

In February, 1995 another set of proposed revisions to OMB Circular A-21, the Federal cost principles applicable to universities, were issued. If adopted, these revisions will further constrain the ability of institutions to fully recover the costs of performing research for the federal government.

As discussed last year, a troublesome issue still exists related to departmental administration expenses. Despite the fact that the Office of Management and Budget issued a formal interpretation of the section of A-21 which had restricted direct charging administrative and clerical expenses to federal research awards, some federal agencies have restricted or eliminated secretarial and administrative support from federal awards. This issue is continuing to be addressed by OSP and by Washington-based organizations such as the Council on Governmental Relations.

Research Assistant Compensation

As noted in last year's report, OMB has reached the decision that MIT and three other major research universities will not be permitted to continue charging the tuition of graduate student research assistants to the employee benefit pool but will be required to treat it as a direct cost to the individual research projects on which they are employed. The implementing regulation, which appear in OMB Circular A-21, provide a transition period which will result in MIT's treating tuition as a direct charge for these appointments beginning in FY 99. The problem is compounded now for NIH awards because that agency is now restricting graduate student compensation (defined as salary plus employee benefits plus tuition charges) to a "reasonable" level, defined as equivalent to the entry level compensation (defined as salary plus employee benefits) of a first year postdoctoral appointee in the department of the RA. MIT and other institutions are currently urging NIH to reconsider these restrictions.

Conflict of Interest

Over the past year, MIT has developed policy and procedures to implement the disclosure and review requirements of the National Science Foundation and the Public Health Service with regard to possible investigator conflict of interest on research projects. NSF has delayed its implementation until October 1, 1995 so that they and PHS can issue complementary (if not identical) policies and procedures.

The Bayh-Dole Act

Last year's report identified the status of pending legislation which would negate a decision by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that universities could not own patents resulting from research conducted under the Advanced Technology Program. That legislation was not passed and there have been efforts to identify another vehicle in which to reaffirm the policy that universities were permitted to retain ownership of inventions resulting from Federally funded research, subject to certain requirements in the public interest.

Internal Initiatives

Streamlining of research administration processes

Significant effort has been devoted toward streamlining some internal processes related to the management of research awards at the Institute which have provided relief to schools, labs, and departments, as well as to central administrative offices. For example, OSP now allows multi-year awards from NIH , DOE, and AFOSR to be established in single account numbers for the life of the award, rather than requiring the establishment of individual accounts each year. More recently, we have provided additional flexibilities to principal investigators in the use of federal research grant funds by relaxing many of the internal approvals previously required. We are now in the process of streamlining the Research Proposal Summary form, to reduce the items on the form and make the remaining items more useful.

Automation and computerization

The major internal effort of the office this year has been the initial development of an OSP database to capture award and proposal information in a computerized database. This will permit more effective and efficient management of awards by OSP staff, will permit Institute personnel to access the database, and will provide the capability to produce standard and custom reports quickly and independently. Release 1 (the awards database) is scheduled for implementation in September 1995, followed by Release 2 (proposal database) a year later.

OSP opened its home page on the WWW in February, 1995. One exciting aspect of our Web page is the ability of researchers at the Institute to access easily federal information sources for proposal announcements, forms, and guidelines. Another is the incorporation in the home page of updated information, such as IDC and EB rates, for the Institute.

Complimentary to these efforts for internal automation, MIT committed to participating in two federal initiatives to develop and submit the administrative portion of selected research proposals to NSF, ONR, NIH, DOE, AFOSR, ARO, and ARMAA electronically. Initial development has proceeded and full-scale testing is scheduled for 1996.


We acknowledge with gratitude the retirement of two long-term staff members, Dave Harrigan and Paul Quinn, who have contributed so much to OSP and to the Institute.

Julie T. Norris

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95