Ensuring appropriate operation and maintenance of CFI-funded infrastructure

October 28, 2016

Recipient institutions are responsible for ensuring that appropriate resources are provided for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of CFI-funded research infrastructure over its useful life (the period of time the infrastructure is expected to provide benefits and be usable for its intended purpose, factoring in normal repairs and maintenance). The institution’s overall O&M strategy should be documented and made available to all relevant stakeholders. Practices in place at institutions that help ensure that CFI-funded infrastructure will be adequately operated and maintained over its useful life include, for example:

  • Developing appropriate project-specific management and sustainability plans at the proposal development stage;
  • Long-term planning and monitoring of O&M costs and related funding;
  • Adopting strategies that optimize resources for the O&M of the institution’s portfolio of projects (e.g. making optimal use of the Infrastructure Operating Fund, locating infrastructure in core facilities where shared technicians can maintain infrastructure related to several projects).

Here's how one institution has implemented these practices.

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo’s overall O&M plan includes the guiding principles as well as decision-making and approval processes related to the provision of O&M support. It also includes the allocation method for the Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF), mentions other available sources of support for O&M, and describes the monitoring processes for O&M needs and support.

The university allows for flexible use of its allocation from the IOF. Each faculty holds annual internal competitions for O&M funding, which is then distributed based on a demonstrated need rather than by entitlement. Project leaders are required to apply to their respective faculty and must provide adequate justification for O&M funding as well as projected O&M expenses for up to five years. Project leaders are also expected to identify additional sources of revenue that may be used to recover a portion of those O&M costs, the balance of which will be considered by each Faculty committee. The IOF allocation process allows researchers to plan for the needs of their projects while allowing the faculties and university flexibility to address areas of greater need.

University research finance managers prepare and submit an annual financial report summarizing IOF expense categories. In addition, compliance personnel will review proposed expenditures to ensure they meet eligibility guidelines. This allows the University to track O&M costs associated with CFI infrastructure and ensures expenditures align with the project leaders’ overall budget forecast.

The university recognizes that sustainability is an essential component of a project and must be appropriately planned prior to the submission of a proposal to the CFI. When developing a proposal, project leaders in consultation with their departments and faculties establish detailed and realistic O&M cost estimates as well as financing plans over the entire estimated useful life of the infrastructure. The plans are reviewed as part of the university’s internal application review process. Selection of proposals for submission to the CFI is contingent on the availability of operating funds.

Contact:

Andrew Barker
Director, Institutional Research
Office of Research 
Phone: 519.888.4567 ext. 36004
Email: andrew.barker [at] uwaterloo.ca

Other example - O&M plan

École Polytechnique de Montréal - Politique sur la planification et la gestion de l'infrastructure de recherche (available in French only) 

Related topics

Giving consideration to your portfolio of CFI-funded projects
Managing CFI-funded infrastructure through core facilities