6.10 Infrastructure Operating Fund allocation and release of funds
6.10.1 Institutional allocation
The CFI allocates an amount of funding that each institution can access from the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF). We calculate that amount as a percentage of our contribution to research infrastructure projects at the institution.
For projects approved by the CFI Board of Directors after July 1, 2001, institutions are usually allocated 30 percent of the maximum CFI amount approved at award finalization. Projects funded on or before that date or through the following are not allocated support from the IOF:
- Major Science Initiatives Fund
- Canada Research Chairs Infrastructure Fund (2001–06)
- Career Awards (2002–06)
- International funds (2002 and 2007)
- Exceptional Opportunities Fund – COVID-19.
A separate IOF allocation is available for research infrastructure funded through the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF).
You can view the details of your institutional IOF allocation, including payments from the CFI and the unpaid amount of the allocation in CAMS.
6.10.2 Award agreement
The CFI prepares an IOF award agreement with institutions at the time of the first IOF payment or IOF annual report, whichever comes first. This agreement describes how the institution’s IOF allocation will be determined, the reporting requirements and the general terms and conditions of the funding. To receive IOF payments, institutions must sign the agreement, thereby accepting the terms and conditions of the funding.
IOF payments begin a set amount of time after project award finalization. We will usually make payments two years after finalization from 2024 onwards. Consult our transition plan for how and when the CFI makes payments from the IOF to institutions.
Payments are made in the spring of each year. You will receive advance notice and detailed calculation of the amount if a payment is due to your institution.
Earlier or additional payments can be requested in your IOF annual report (e.g., if the spring payment is insufficient to cover your planned IOF needs for the year).
Total payments cannot exceed the institution’s available IOF allocation at any given time. Unlike infrastructure project payments, there is no holdback amount on IOF payments.
6.10.3 Use of funds
IOF support may only be used for eligible operating and maintenance costs of CFI-funded infrastructure projects as described in 4.7.1 Infrastructure Operating Fund. The IOF allocation generated by BRIF projects may only be used for eligible costs in support of those projects.
The institution can distribute its IOF allocation based on the actual operating and maintenance needs of each project rather than distributing the exact amount to each project that generated it. This allows institutions the flexibility to support projects with different needs and scope, while ensuring accountability.
In the case of a multi-institutional project, the inter-institutional agreement should state how the IOF funding will be shared among the institutions. The recipient institution is responsible for distributing the funds in accordance with the terms of the inter-institutional agreement. In addition, the CFI will allow a participating institution to use its own IOF allocation to pay for the operating and maintenance costs it has incurred for a multi-institutional project if these expenditures are not reported by the recipient institution.
6.10.4 Annual report
If an institution signed an award agreement to receive IOF payments, it is required to submit an IOF annual report electronically in CAMS by June 15 each year until it exhausts its available allocation. In it, the institution reports on the eligible operating and maintenance costs (see 4.7.1 Infrastructure Operating Fund) incurred in the previous April 1 to March 31 period. The actual costs you report may include outstanding commitments if the expenditure has been incurred (i.e., work performed, goods received or services rendered) but the invoice was not paid in the period ending March 31.
If you have received funding through BRIF, a separate IOF annual report must be submitted.
Expenditures reported under the IOF are subject to the usual institutional tendering and purchasing policies and procedures.
We aim to keep the administration of the IOF fund as simple as possible, minimizing the reporting and documentation requirements while ensuring accountability. Since the costs of operating and maintaining research infrastructure often exceed an institution’s IOF allocation, we only require institutions to be able to demonstrate that those costs were at least equal to the costs reported in the IOF annual report, and that the costs reported were not claimed for reimbursement from another source. We encourage institutions to focus their efforts in the report on higher-value expenditures within a limited number of CFI-funded infrastructure projects, keeping the number of items reported and associated supporting documentation to a minimum.
For multi-institutional projects, the recipient institution must report the costs on behalf of all the participating institutions based on the terms of the inter-institutional agreement. If a participating institution has used its own IOF funds for additional operating and maintenance costs it has incurred, it must report them in its own IOF annual report.
The CFI will withhold all institutional payments when an institution does not comply with reporting requirements for any of its awards.
6.10.5 Additional supporting documentation
In addition to documents listed in 6.4.5 Supporting documentation, institutions must also be prepared to provide the following supporting documentation for all actual expenditures reported in its IOF annual report. Institutions must keep on file all documentation for audit purposes for a minimum of six years and provide it upon request. This six-year period starts at the end of the fiscal year to which the records relate.
Supporting documentation for salaries
- Supporting documentation for salaries of technicians and professionals directly involved in the operation and maintenance of CFI-funded infrastructure includes:
- Description of the operating and maintenance activities performed and certification that the infrastructure cannot be operated without the assistance of the assigned personnel (This certification must be obtained annually and must be signed by the employee and approved by the supervisor. The CFI will also accept certification of this information from another person (e.g., project leader or department head) if this person is knowledgeable of the activities performed by the employee.)
- Supporting evidence for the individual’s salary rate and benefits (e.g., letter of hire or change in salary rate, payroll records).
Consult our sample template for reporting and documenting salaries of technicians and professionals.
Supporting documentation for electricity costs
- When reporting the cost of electricity related to CFI-funded equipment, institutions can choose to use a detailed or a simplified method for calculating these costs:
- Detailed method: The institution must establish an appropriate method to calculate the actual electricity costs and must keep supporting documentation on file.
- Simplified method: The institution need not calculate the actual electricity costs but must use the provincial rate prescribed by the CFI (rate is updated annually). This rate should be multiplied by the electrical consumption of the equipment. The institution must keep on file supporting documentation.
Consult the current electricity costs rate table, which also includes a template for how to document these costs.
Supporting documentation for facilities charges
- When reporting facilities charges related to space essential to house and use CFI-funded infrastructure, institutions can choose to use a detailed or simplified method for calculating these costs:
- Detailed method: The institution must establish an appropriate method to calculate the actual facilities costs and must keep on file supporting documentation.
- Simplified method: The institution need not calculate the actual facilities costs but must use the provincial rate prescribed by the CFI for the type of space (rate is updated annually). This rate should be multiplied by the amount of space essential to house and use CFI-funded infrastructure. The institution must keep supporting documentation on file.
Consult the current facilities charges rate table, which also includes a template for how to document these costs.
Other supporting documentation for the Infrastructure Operating Fund
- Identification of the CFI-funded infrastructure project(s) for which eligible operating and maintenance costs are reported (The expenditure must be directly related to an infrastructure project eligible to receive funding from the IOF.)
- Confirmation obtained by the institution from the project leader(s) (at a minimum annually) that the infrastructure is still used for research purposes (The institution must: certify in its IOF annual report that it has obtained these confirmations; keep them on file; and provide them upon request.)
6.10.6 Oversight activities
We perform a number of financial oversight activities for the IOF. For example, we review and monitor IOF needs and the rate at which the funds are used. We also may follow up with an institution to request additional information in order to better inform our decisions.
During institutional monitoring visits, we discuss IOF policies and practices and may also review a sample of IOF expenditures to validate the financial controls in place.
When requested, institutions must provide access to the supporting documentation and other information related to the IOF award, including funds transferred to other eligible institutions. If a recipient institution has transferred funds to another institution (e.g., an affiliated research hospital or another participating institution), the CFI may monitor the award account at the location where the funds were spent.
The CFI reserves the right to make the final determination of eligible costs under the IOF, to disallow expenditures and to recover funds that have been paid out to an institution. To avoid a situation where costs may later be deemed ineligible, institutions are advised to contact the CFI if they foresee a problem in complying with the IOF guidelines.