The Indirect Costs Program helps Canadian postsecondary institutions with the hidden costs of research. By alleviating the financial burden of expenses, such as lighting and heating, the program ultimately helps researchers concentrate on cutting-edge discoveries and scholarship excellence. After all, it is easier to achieve a eureka moment when the lights are on.
Whether they are salaries for staff or students who provide research administration support, training costs for workplace health and safety, or the administrative costs associated with getting a patent for an invention, the hidden or "indirect" costs of research pose a financial challenge to Canadian institutions.
With this understanding of the real and unavoidable costs of research in mind, the Government of Canada introduced the Indirect Costs Program (ICP) in 2003. This permanent program provides Canadian universities and colleges with an annual grant to help pay for a portion of their indirect costs of research.
Whether the grant pays for the maintenance of libraries, laboratories or research networking spaces, or for the technical support required for an institution's website or library computer system, the overall goal of the Indirect Costs Program is to help ensure Canada's research institutions remain top-notch.
Every year, the federal government funds specific research projects through its three granting agencies:
Thus, the Indirect Costs Program also reinforces this research investment by helping postsecondary institutions ensure that their federally-funded research projects are conducted in world-class facilities with the best equipment and administrative support available.
The Indirect Costs Program has a budget of $332 million for
2012-13, and serves some 126 postsecondary institutions across the country.
This program is an extension of a one-time indirect costs payment totalling $200 million made by the government to 79 degree-granting institutions in 2001-02.
A steering committee, made up of the presidents of the three federal granting agencies and the deputy minister of Industry Canada (or designated replacement), oversees the management of the program.
The Canada Research Chairs Secretariat, which is housed at SSHRC, administers the program and is responsible for:
- determining the eligibility of Canadian postsecondary institutions;
- administering the financial and reporting aspects of the program;
- conducting performance measurement;
- conducting evaluation and management audits (through the corporate performance and evaluation division of SSHRC); and
- reporting on the program to the minister of Industry Canada, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and, ultimately, the Parliament of Canada.