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Service center administrators and service center directors should review their chartstrings on at least a monthly basis to verify the activity on the chartstring. The Office of Cost Analysis and Studies will perform quarterly and annual reviews of service center chartstrings.
On a quarterly basis, cost analysis will review the activity in service center accounts to determine:
- Are billings being performed timely?
- Are there significant deviations from the costs that were submitted to determine the rate?
- Are there unallowable costs?
- Are there deficits and/or surpluses that need to be addressed?
- Have there been new equipment purchases that need to be added to the depreciation calculation?
- Are there new external sales?
Cost Analysis and Studies will contact the service center administrators if there are any problems that need to be resolved. Recurring, unresolved problems will be reported to the Dean's Office.
During the months of November and December Cost Analysis and Studies reviews and approves the rate packages submitted by the service centers to establish rates for the coming calendar year. The rate package should contain:
- A rate calculation based on projections for the coming calendar year
- A narrative describing the projection methodology for each cost line item and sales volume
- A disclosure of any proposal items that have changed since the previous rate package submission
- A rate sheet that could be posted to the web to advertise the rate(s)
- A listing of any equipment used by the service center that was not purchased on the equipment reserve chartstring
- A Routed Service Center Annual Rate Review Sheet
Cost Analysis will review the rate calculation to determine:
- Are all costs included in the operating costs allowable costs?
- Are prior period surpluses/deficits taken into consideration?
- Was the appropriate amount of depreciation expense included in the rate calculation?
- Are the projections of operating costs reasonable?
- Are the projections of billing volumes reasonable?
This rate package should be sent to your Dean's Office no later than Oct. 1 and submitted to Cost Analysis and Studies no later than Nov. 1.
A planned subsidy exists when the service center decides to use a billing rate that will not be sufficient to fund the expected costs of the service center operations. Rate schedules that contain planned subsidies should quantify the expected subsidy (Expected Volume X (Calculated Rate - Billing Rate). Annual rate packages with planned subsidies need to identify a non-sponsored funding source to fund the deficit created by the subsidy and include a letter of approval from the funding source's owner.
Treatment of Deficits
A deficit can occur if any one or all of the following occur:
- Actual costs are greater than expected costs
- Actual billing volumes are less than expected
- There was a planned subsidy.
Large ongoing deficits (other than planned subsidies) should be avoided and may indicate that the service center is not operating optimally. The Dean's Offices should investigate the causes of the deficits and discuss terms and conditions for the ongoing operation of the service center.
When a service center incurs a deficit, the rate schedule should be adjusted to increase future billings to recover the deficit. If the deficit is too large to be funded from the next year's rate increase, the deficit must be funded from a non-sponsored, non-state source (i.e., chartstrings with a fund of 116 may not be used). Deficits may be funded from surplus balances in the equipment reserve fund. Designated Research Initiative Funds (DRIF) also may be used. Units without any appropriate funding sources should work with their Dean's Office to make funding arrangements. The funding journal entry should credit the service center chartstring and debit the funding source chartstring. Both sides of the journal entry should use revenue account 0999 - Internal Revenue Transfers.
If a service center needs more than one year of billings to recover a deficit, the annual rate package should project costs, volumes, and rates for the entire period needed to recover the deficit. Cost Analysis and Studies and Budget and Financial Analysis will approve the deficit recovery plans on a case by case basis. In some cases when the deficit is large and will not be recovered for several years, a temporary funding entry may be needed. This funding entry will be made to the equipment reserve chartstring and may be repaid to the funding source.
Treatment of Surpluses
A service center may run a surplus balance up to 90 days worth of expenses without making any adjustments to its rate schedule. When a service center incurs a surplus greater than 90 days worth of expenses, the rate schedule should be adjusted to decrease future billing rates to reduce the surplus. Surpluses may never be used or transferred to fund costs unrelated to the service center. Large surpluses should be avoided by adjusting rates appropriately. If a large surplus develops that cannot be reduced through rate decreases, Cost Analysis will work with the service center to refund previous customers and/or funding agencies.