GAO Recommends Changes to NSF Indirect Cost Guidance
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Indirect Costs for Research, finds that the National Science Foundation (NSF) “does not consistently take steps to ensure it pays no more than its fair share of indirect costs.” Indirect costs, also referred to as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, represent the portion of NSF awards that cover operational costs, such as maintenance, rent, and utilities. The report notes that while NSF has produced guidance for setting indirect cost rates, it is not implemented consistently. The report makes recommendations to ensure NSF staff follow its guidance more reliably, better document the process of setting indirect cost rates, and maintain consistency with the guidance set by other federal agencies. In a letter responding to the report (Appendix I), NSF concurred with GAO’s recommendations and outlined the steps it will take to implement them. The complete report and a highlights page are available on GAO’s website.